Half of you are opening this blog thinking “finally someone’s going to explain what I had been thinking for a long time”.
The other half are probably thinking, “no, I read the latest report and the average number of touches to engage a prospect in 2019 was xyz”.
OK, stop, right there. All the reports you read about “average number of touches to engage” are wrong.
First I will explain the problem with using these stats to shape your prospecting strategy. Then I’ll explain why these stats are even more dangerous for email. “Average” and “Engage” are meaningless in this context.
Let me elaborate.
Why “Number of Touches” Isn’t Useful for Phone Prospecting
Most of these reports consider “engaging” a prospect as getting a response or a phone connect. Some of these reports just base their numbers on simple (but bad) math. A 5% connect rate on the phone means that you need 20 calls to get a connect, therefore it takes 20 touches to engage a prospect!
So simple, and so genius! But actually wrong.
Some prospects are more prone to pick up the phone and will pick up 1/3 of the calls, others almost never pick up the phone and you’ll be lucky to get them 1/100 times. So the average of your sample can be 20 calls, but suppose you actually decide to call each prospect exactly 20 times on a sequence.
Many prospects will pick up on calls 1-4. After that, your connect rate will drop a lot because you’re left with those who only pick up 1/100 calls!
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%. 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.
Why It’s Not Useful for Email Prospecting (Applies to LinkedIn InMails, Too)
An even worse way to think about “engaging prospects” is to look at the email response rate.
Why? Because when you have a sequence with automated emails, it takes no effort to send more emails, yet these emails clutter your prospects inbox.
This is a fantastic way to annoy prospects.
I can guarantee you that most – if not all – of stats that saying it takes X number of 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 decide to add more steps to my sequence and add another new 100 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 is useless!
It doesn’t mean you should just continue adding touches. It also doesn’t mean you should reduce the number of touches to the average. After all, if we just did the 13 touches that my last sequence has as an average, I would be missing on a lot of responses.
So do I keep the 24 touches? Do I add more? Do I cut to the average?
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.
“But Tito, How Many Touches Should I Use?”
The truth is, the average number of touches you should use in a sequence depends more 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 (like people telling you to stop annoying them).
By measuring the basic sentiment of your responses, you will be able to optimize intelligently. You’ll have data to tell you how to increase 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.
At AltiSales we have this down to a science, we know exactly how to optimize our campaigns and continue to increase the number of meetings we get from prospects via phone and email. Unless you are in the business of burning leads and burning relationships, I recommend you change the way you work.