How Many Touch Points Before a Sale is Too Much?

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Hint, way more than most sales people are willing to commit to.

This is not only a subject that comes up a lot, but there is a range of opinion usually driven by emotion and personal preference than data or what seems to work.  What’s worse, is often it really was their own personal preference, that is not what was merited by the sale, but how they personally felt about they liked to be sold to.  Problem with that is that most weak sales people are uncomfortable with their role, and feel uncomfortable being sold to.  As a result, they would regularly undermine their success and that of their company.  Wonder if there is a coloration between the fact that most sales people come up short on touch points and the fact that only about 60% make quota?

Number Of Touch Points

First opportunity is to increase the number of times you actually attempt to engage with a potential prospect.  To be clear, we are not talking about the self-declared buyer, who has traveled the infamous 57% on their own, they are buyers, not prospects.  Prospects are those people who tightly fit your “right buyer profile”, but have taken no steps along the 57% brick road, left to their own devices, they would not be thinking about buying, so it is the job of a sales person to engage and bring them into the market.

Believe it or not, most sales people still give up way to soon, some as low as three, most will not do more than five (unless their company has implemented a system for them).  Given the fact that most buyers are trying to pack 16 hours into a 10-hour day, and the fact that most purchase decisions will involve more than one person, 3 – 5 touch points is woefully low.  In fact, many executives tell me that they will routinely ignore the first three tries, and will look for “the last man standing”.

My recommendation to my clients is based on some specifics, the low end in a given round of trying to bring someone into the market is 8 attempts, and could range to a high of 12 touch points per round.  Which leads to how often.

Frequency

Regardless of how many attempts sellers make per round, they often wait too long between touch points.  Most tell me they wait a week between each of the first four touch points.  A week is a life time for someone who is not in the market.  The minimum 8 – 12 touch points I mentioned above should come should come in the space of two business weeks, 10 business days.  A lot of reps freak out when I say this, and I am never sure if it is because of the rapid nature of the approach, or the fact that they have to make that many attempts.  But if you truly believe you can add value to the person you are pursuing, and they are not entering the market on their own, you don’t have much choice.  You can wait a week and be forgotten, or you can prepare an intelligent pursuit plan, and be noticed.

To be clear, this is not just calls; this can be calls/voice mail, e-mail, LinkedIn and other social, snail mail, text and more.  Everyone has a different communication preference, and we need to ensure that we are covering all possibilities.  Using data available in many of today’s apps, current client input, and tribal experience, you can come up with a plan, work it, and most importantly continuously refine it.

Here is one example:

Touch Points

You may need to vary it based on role, market and other factors.  It is also to program this using many CRM’s and tools today, so you don’t get caught up in the “mood” or “feel” of the day.  Lay out the plan, and execute.

Don’t listen to a colleague who’ll tell you that once in 1992 a prospect told them they were too persistent.  Instead listen to those who have taken the extra step and sold to prospects others missed either because they were waiting for the “buyer” to make the first move, or because they gave up one attempt too soon.

Recycle

If you do run through the cycle, send them back to marketing for some further nurturing and processing, and then start the cycle again. When, that will vary based on what you sell.  I find form the start of each quarter is a good time as my audience is thinking about either how to accelerate their success, or turn things around.  In a high volume environment, where a buyer may be doing 10 – 12 transactions a day, a couple weeks is a long time.  Just don’t give up on a prospects that fits your “right buyer profile”, leads and prospects are recyclable.

The key is to plan out the messaging, create continuity, and then relentlessly execute without second guessing yourself or your plan.  Trust me that injunction order you are worried about is much further down the road.

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