By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling® – The Sales Training Company

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

  • Select companies meeting criteria that make them more likely to be viable prospects
  • Target Key Player titles with business issues
  • Take Key Players from latent to active need to initiate opportunities
  • Adjust activity based upon the health of each seller’s pipeline
  • Qualify/disqualify opportunities by assessing traction gained with Key Players

Territory sellers with responsibility for generating leads often view bus dev as an activity. When pipelines are thin many make random, sporadic efforts to reach prospects. This approach flies in the face of a few sobering statistics:

  • Key Player prospects answer about 4% of business development (bus dev) calls
  • An AMA study found:
    • On average 7.2 contacts are needed to reach Key Players
    • Most sellers quit after making 1 – 3 attempts to reach prospects

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To make bus dev a process rather than random activities, sellers could:

  • Define 5 touches for specific titles in prospect organizations
  • Identify business issues each title is likely to face that can be addressed with your offering
  • Attempt to contact a prospect every 3 business days using the following sequence:
    • Start with a phone script for each business issue
    • If you get voicemail, leave the script and indicate you’ll be emailing title-specific collateral (Success Story; a quote; etc.)
    • Send the email and collateral
    • If there is no contact, go to the next touch 3 business days later
  • Offer a menu of the issues you lead with in the fifth touch and ask the prospect to call or email if they’re interested in discussing any of the issues.

If there’s been no contact after 10 touches (5 voicemails and 5 emails) some sellers would put the prospect company on their dormant list. My suggestion is to target another Key Player title with 5 touches based upon their likely business problems as described above. This amounts to using a title versus an enterprise view in doing bus dev.

Sellers using this approach find the second and third touches are the most productive. It seems necessary to get your name/company name/issues in front of prospects multiple times. If you lead with relevant business issues in each touch, sellers differentiate themselves from most sporadic bus dev efforts that lead with product.

Consider the close rate on a lead generated proactively with a Key Player versus inbound leads where your first contact is likely with a person that can’t buy.

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