How Many Sales Touches Does It Take to Make a Deal In 2021?

sales touches

It’s rare to make a sale on the first contact. It usually requires multiple attempts, or sales touches. The exact amount will depend on the average deal size and the part of the industry you’re working in. But one thing doesn’t change: it requires hard work and persistence to make a sale.

What Is a Touchpoint or Contact In Sales?

A touchpoint is a contact with a prospect, which could be a face-to-face meeting or phone conversation. An email, social media message or voicemail would qualify as sales touches. A phone call without a message would generally not.

How Many Sales Touches Does It Take to Engage a Prospect?

The simple answer, as above, is that it depends what you’re selling and who you’re selling to. Outreach says it takes eight touches to engage a prospect, but that number could vary a lot in your sector.

We can only measure the number of sales touches it takes to engage a prospect. How many touches it takes to actually make a sale varies wildly. If you work in enterprise sales, with a year-long sales cycle, your average number of touches is going to be very different from if you work in smaller-scale, transactional sales.

Even when looking at engaging a prospect, generic data isn’t that much use. Rather than looking at the average for all salespeople across all industries, though, try looking at your own data and experimenting with different lengths of sequence. What happens when you try more touches? Do you get more sales, or more angry prospects?

How to Analyze Touchpoint Data

It’s useful to know the average number of touches needed altogether, but what you really need is accurate benchmark data for your sector, and from within your own organization, in order to make a judgement about how things work for your company and your products.

RELATED: Check out some sales tools to help you collect data on your sales touches.

First, look at the distribution of sales touches. How many touches are you currently trying with each prospect? And what happens after each touch?

You need to break it down into what happens. Look at no-contacts, negative contacts and positive contacts. And then break down the positive contacts further and look how many turn into long-term leads and how many into customers.

Then it’s time to look for patterns. Is there a consistent distribution? Do most of your engagements happen between 6 and 10 touches. Do you have a small group of touches that engage quite quickly and then another group later? Perhaps you’ve got two distinct types of customer with different behavior.

Then you need to compare your engagement rates and touchpoint numbers with some kind of meaningful benchmark, if you can get it. What do industry standards look like?

Outreach data suggests that a good generic benchmark is a 12% response rate across all touches in your campaign, but perhaps you can get data that’s more specific to your niche.

If you can’t get that, can you track longitudinal data in your own organization. Has there been a change over time?

One thing to check for is whether you keep making touches after it’s no longer worth it.

What Is Too Low An Engagement Rate to Keep Calling?

It does not make sense to continue calling after your connect rate drops below a certain level. It just takes too much effort to connect, and the law of diminishing returns takes effect.

Depending on who you are calling, that connect rate threshold where you should stop adding call steps might be between 2-6%. Accounts you think are likely to be a good fit and high value warrant more persistence.  I’m lucky that I can track that using different winning sequences for different purposes in Outreach.io, so I know when my time is being wasted.

Make Sure You’re Not Creating Negative Engagement

When you have a sequence with automated emails, it takes no effort to send more emails, yet these emails clutter your prospect’s inbox.

This is a fantastic way to annoy prospects.

I can guarantee you that most – if not all – of stats that say it takes X number of sales touches to “engage” a prospect did not measure the positive response rate. They just measure the response rate.

That’s a vanity metric that can hurt you a lot. Let me give you some examples of why this data is useless.

Imagine I put 100 prospects in a 4-step email sequence. I get 8 responses with the following distribution.

My average number of touches to engage a prospect is 2.6! Yet, I decided to add more steps to my sequence and add 100 new prospects.

I got even more responses! My manager is happy! So I continue adding more touches!

When I add more touches, my average response rate will go up. So will the average number of touches it takes to get a response.

This data cannot answer that question for us because it is easily manipulated. The average depends on how many touches I used in the first place.

The average number of touches you should use in a sequence depends not on total responses, but on the number of positive and negative responses you are getting.

Examples of positive responses are demos taken, or introductions to other people in the organization.

Examples of negative responses are unsubscribes, and any other negative responses that give people a bad experience with your brand.

By measuring the basic sentiment of your responses, you will be able to optimize intelligently, including writing better follow up emails and changing the way you communicate. You’ll have data to tell you how to increase the number of demos you get per prospect added to your sequence. And you can minimize the number of people who have a bad experience when interacting with your brand.

How Do I Use This to Make More Sales?

If you understand when to give up on a prospect and when to persist a little longer, you don’t waste time calling no-hopers, and you don’t stop when a deal might be in sight.

But also, this data ought to give you some insight into sequencing. Your data should help you build killer sequences and target your efforts far better.

If you’re not optimizing and segmenting your campaigns based on the very latest data, you’re not maximizing the number of prospects you engage, and that’s bad for business.


Also published on Medium.

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