Online network generates leads, sales

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A new site is banking on social media to shorten sales cycles and directly link users' activity within social networks to measurable results.

Peer-to-peer marketplace Salesconx Inc. marries social networking to business. Sales professionals upload pictures to profiles with information about their businesses and site transaction history. On a bulletin board-type part of the site, members can post their offers and needs.

The site generates money for members in two ways: Sales professionals pay for introductions to potential leads with whom other salespeople have existing business relationships and, if a lead turns into a sale, they gain a paying customer.

"What I really started watching was that marketing really started to change a lot," said Evan Sohn, CEO and founder of Salesconx. The site primarily targets SMB b-to-b marketers that lack the budget and time to spend using direct and banner ads to chase unqualified leads. The "spray and pray" model just doesn't work for small-business owners who need to focus on growth, Sohn said.

Salesconx, which was launched last September, has almost 1,000 members, many of whom have made money and connections on the site. Registration is free upon verification that salespersons are experienced and qualified to join. Salesconx keeps a percentage of the cost of each transaction. According to Sohn, it's important to draw distinctions between business and personal relationships.

Melissa Krinzman, president of Venture Architects, recently joined Salesconx after skeptically viewing and disregarding the invitation.

"I put my information up and within two weeks received a lead," Krinzman said, "and after that wound up turning the lead into a paying customer."

Decade-old Venture Architects develops business plans for companies looking for investment capital, an industry that relies heavily on referrals and solid business leads. Once on Salesconx, Krinzman was contacted about a company that needed a business plan, so she purchased the lead and was introduced to her future customer via e-mail.

"I've been thrilled with it because it delivered on its promise," Krinzman said. "I feel I found a wonderful place that is doing it right."

Krinzman had used LinkedIn before, but regarded Salesconx as a different animal because, she said, the lead "comes to" the user. In the spirit of social media, she forwarded the site to other business contacts that she believed would find it useful.

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