The level of contact – canvassing’s forgotten lever.

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It would seem that a number of sales operations toil under a “lead dictatorship” with the result that all contacts are placed on the same footing.

This can sometimes be traced to the increasing strength of inbound marketing campaigns. It is true that all contacts deserve our utmost attention, especially if they have come to us and have invested time and money in doing so. As for securing meetings through outbound calling campaigns, we are not going to deny the pleasure one gets in counting all the meetings set up this way – even if it is with an obscure underling with neither authority nor power.

Of course every contact represents an opportunity. We all have that “foot in the door” tactical mentality, or we tell ourselves there is always time to work up the hierarchy. We tell ourselves: “Better a meeting with a non-decider than no meeting at all!”

I believe the opposite to be true: “Better no meeting at all.”

First of all because initiating a sales meeting with the final decision-maker has a direct impact on:

  • the closing rate,
  • the size of the deal,
  • the length of the sales cycle,

… and I could go on.

In addition, you raise the level of internal demand and you create a virtuous circle which impacts on the whole organisation, on average deal sizes and the motivation of the best…

One could argue that by meeting the final decision-maker straight away, you also risk blowing the whole sale very quickly. That is true and that is fine. Because losing a sale is not such a terrible tragedy – as long as you lose it fast. And non decision-makers have a great talent for making us lose them slowly…

All those running a business know that there is a wonderful canvassing equation: the “effort-results” correlation. This sometimes leads us to focus on “sales activity” in terms of the number of meetings generated. We end up with a pipeline that is “high on hormones”, which obviously creates short-term euphoria.

But what if we focus instead on the quality of the effort – in this case on the level of contact? And what if, instead of listening to sales staff complain about the quality of meetings they have often not set up themselves, we helped them to get better meetings?

François Drillon, EXECUTIVE SELLING (www.executive-selling.com)

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