B2B prospecting: no, not all first meetings worth the same…

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Most of us grew up with that wonderful equation of B2B prospecting drummed into us: the “effort–results” correlation. The more leads you get, the more deals you will sign. This sometimes leads us to focus on “sales activity” in particular in terms of the number of first prospecting meetings.

Meanwhile, professional social networks have grown, inbound marketing has become sophisticated. Today we are witnessing an explosion of “leads brokers”. Any IP address that has visited your website is a suspect. A good “nurturing” campaign and they will be putty in your hands for sure. To the utter delight of sales reps, getting a meeting becomes much easier.

This approach works well in the commodities sector. Is someone browsing for insurance for his fleet of cars or a company that offers English language training? The smart thing to do is detect that and then send him awareness emails or have a pop-up appear on his browser, and then call him once he has eventually filled in that form. Marketing resources could not be put to better use.

 

But what about all those disruptive and innovative services which represent a growing share of B2B, mainly due to digitalisation and the changes in business models?

First of all, we rarely search the Internet for a service we don’t know exists. But more importantly, those who browse are not those who make decisions. Because each purchasing decision implies a change in functioning or will have an impact, however slight, on budgets, over recent years it has moved higher up the hierarchy of our prospects. Operatives have lost control; now it is the executives who decide (see: “The N°1 adversary: “no-action”). So these are the people we need to identify and with whom we want to have that meeting.

Because leads generated by marketing are essentially with operatives, hence with non-deciders (“79% of marketing-generated leads never convert into sales”, Marketing Sherpa, 2013). It makes no sense to treat all first meetings as the same without taking into account the contact level. We end up with a pipeline that is “high on hormones”, which obviously creates short-term euphoria. Unfortunately, this ends up with us committing resources (mainly pre-sale) for very poor closing rates.

Some say every contact represents an opportunity. We all have that good old “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.” We often slip down the hierarchy; we very rarely climb up it.

No. All first prospecting meetings are not equal. Perhaps we should focus instead on those who really make decisions about our business.

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

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One Response to “B2B prospecting: no, not all first meetings worth the same…

  • Bonjour,

    j’adore l’expression “pipeline doté aux hormones”. C’est tellement vrai et c’est dû (en partie) à la pression des N+1 (voire N+2) à faire remplir les agendas… cela pousse les commerciaux à prendre des rendez-vous qui ne déboucheront pas sur de véritables opportunités de vente…

    Comme vous, je pense qu’il vaut mieux ne PAS prendre de rendez-vous, de faire en sorte de pouvoir contacter les bonnes personnes.

    Bonne continuation.

    Pascal

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