Level of contact: the forgotten level of B2B business development.

A number of commercial organizations seem to be
ruled by the business lead, which prompts them
to put all their contacts on an equal footing.

That’s sometimes linked to the growing power of inbound marketing campaigns. It’s true that every contact deserves the utmost attention, especially if it manifested itself and we’ve invested time and money on that aim. As for arranging meetings through cold calling, we’re not going to turn our nose up at all the new meetings… even if they’re with an obscure functional manager with no authority or power.

We all have a wonderful equation in mind when it comes to business development: the correlation between efforts and results. But that sometimes leads us to focus on ‘commercial activity’, in the sense of the number of meetings generated. We find ourselves with an artificial injection, which of course brings a short-term boost.

With the same logic, we say that every contact presents an opportunity. We’re all familiar with the ‘foot in the door’ tactic, when we think that we’ll always have time to go up the ladder. All things considered, it’s better to have a meeting with a non-decisionmaker… than no meeting at all!

I think the opposite: it’s better to have no meeting at all.

As popular wisdom says, “it’s better to talk to the organ grinder than the monkey”: meeting the final decisionmaker as early as possible should be an absolute priority.

That has a direct impact on:

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

… no less! A CEB study indicates that in 65% of cases, the prospective client signs with the service provider that first established the ‘procurement vision’.

Plus we raise the level of internal demand and create a virtuous circle that affects the entire organization.

Some may fear that in meeting the decisionmaker straightaway, if we can, we also risk losing the deal very quickly. That’s true… and so much the better. It doesn’t matter too much if we lose deals, on one condition: we lose them quickly. And non-decisionmakers have a talent for making us lose them slowly…

And what if we focused our efforts on quality too, in this case the level of contact? And if, rather than listening to sales representatives complain about the quality of meetings that often they didn’t arrange, we helped them arrange better ones themselves? And turn each meeting with a decisionmaker into a real business opportunity?

François Drillon





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