We are incredibly thankful that Contactually’s enterprise business (you can read more here) is on a strong growth path right now. This isn’t our first attempt at expanding our enterprise efforts, so I’ve spent time looking back to understand why our previous attempts did not yield the same results.
There’s no question that a big part of it is market readiness and timing – I cannot recommend Bill Gross’ TED talk enough to unpack that further. There’s also the necessity to approach it sequentially – success in the enterprise market with our primary vertical is best built upon a proven track record among SMBs – so to some extend, we had to grind for years to have the solid foundation to launch off of.
However, a big part of it, that I’ve seen through my own personal experience, is having a long term approach. Sure, there are many partnerships that follow the standard prospect-opportunity-customer funnel, on average around 60 days. But some of our most strategically important partnerships – or tapping into new channels – have taken years of business development and relationship building.
For better or for worse, this has fallen on me to lead on. As guided by mentors, while our commercial teams operate on quarterly goals, and therefore have to prioritize their efforts around the near term, executive leadership is free from that oversight. Through that, we’ve been able to initiate relationships having absolutely no pressure to squeeze out a business opportunity. Rather, we are simply able to ensure that, if/when a business opportunity presents itself, that we are considered.
My native maker tendency has a lot of discomfort in this, as I seemingly am building a lot of bridges to nowhere. Time has solved that – as much of the success our team is thankful to see these days has come from a seemingly out-of-the-blue email, RFP, conversation, or phone call. Only then can we connect the dots to years of actions and meetings.
“You can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.” – Steve Jobs