When salespeople reach out to prospects, what is the optimal number of sales touches? It can differ tremendously. One thing is clear, however. One, two, or even three touches is usually not enough.
For example, a $60 billion business may have several different divisions – banking, electric vehicle charging stations, even trains – so there is no specific number of touchpoints to reach all their buyers. Every buyer within a large company is unique and searching for a specific product to fulfill their particular business sector needs.
So consider your offering or product, the geography you are trying to sell to, and the role you play inside the business to determine the number of touches that will work best for that business.
There’s also your own company, which may have multiple divisions that require your team to develop multiple touches for each product or service. Think through what might have caused your target customers to reach out to you – their feelings, pain points, wants, and needs – and make touchpoint decisions based on that information.
Research the region you’re targeting, as people in different geographic areas will likely have different buying customs. Also, sales roles within your own company may focus on different steps in the customer journey. For example, if you manage sales development reps, then your team might prioritize touchpoints with inbound prospects. If a prospect fills out a contact form, you know they are already aware of your company, and your touchpoints must reflect that.
Because of the myriad factors influencing the number of touchpoints you might deploy, it can be difficult to determine how many touches are necessary to make the sale.
Although some customers don’t require many follow-ups, you’ll be hard pressed to find a buyer who purchases a product after one, two, or three touches. In fact, 60% of customers say no to sales professionals four times before saying yes. The problem is that almost half of today’s salespeople fail to follow up after one call. Further, sellers miss out on 80% of meetings when they use fewer than five touches.
Is there a magic number of sales touches? Most sales experts hail anything above eight touches as the “sweet spot,” but 14 touches will generate the most success. Still, many companies give up after three touches.
One reason is that sellers fear they are wasting their time by calling or emailing multiple times. Also, many sales professionals feel like they are searching futilely for a needle in a haystack – especially when they are dealing with a long list of contacts. Plus, there’s pressure to land a lot of prospects and work through all of them very quickly.
So, how do you know when to move on? Negative interactions can clue you in on when to stop reaching out. Determine whether potential customers have opted out or unsubscribed, sent negative email replies, or neglected to open your sellers’ emails. If a potential customer did not either open the email, click the link included in the message, watch a video that was sent, or forward the email to someone else in the organization, chances are that you’ve capped out your touches. You can use software such as Gong to analyze your team’s conversations and track your progress.
There’s no magic number of touches to convert prospects into loyal customers, but these strategies can help ensure you and your team are doing enough to engage prospects:
When combing through a list of thousands of prospects, committing your sellers to several touches can be difficult. However, it’s essential to remind your team to remain persistent and not give up too early. Sellers should keep contacting prospects until they get a rejection. For instance, if you contact someone and do not hear back, give them a break for a month or two and then try again. After all, they didn’t say yes or no definitively.
People are flooded with sales-related messages every day; without personalized content, therefore, your team’s messages will likely go unread. For example, I was contacted by a company on LinkedIn with a message directed at traveling nurses. I’m not a traveling nurse, so the touchpoint didn’t resonate with me or make me want to respond. Think about the messages your team sends before sending them. If your sellers use templates – as this seller probably did – make sure they choose the correct one. One bad touch can ruin your chances of connecting with a prospect.
Track the critical factors mentioned earlier (e.g., product offerings, sales geography, and role) on a macro level and use that data to make informed decisions. What’s working for your team? Is it three emails and three calls? Track these practices with tools such as Outreach, Salesloft, Groove, and Conquer, and determine your unique winning formula.
When it comes to making the sale, using only three touches is simply inadequate. You must follow up with prospects personally and ensure they understand your interest and commitment to them. Once you figure out the number of touches that works best for your prospects’ needs, locations, and preferences, you can truly understand and master your team’s sales approach – leading to loyal customers and a thriving business.
Frank Pinder is the EVP of Digital Transformation Services at Corporate Visions and B2B DecisionLabs. He has created a field testing methodology and framework that have improved inside sales teams’ performance around the globe.