Everyone in sales talks about how you need 5, 10, 15, or more touches to engage a buyer. But is this really true?
Is it just a numbers game?
My data science team decided to put this thinking to the test.
This is the first in a series of data science-oriented posts from the data science team at Outreach. They spend their time digging through complex data sets to help sales professionals perform at a higher level. Stop back for the rest of the posts in this series, as there are additional data and insights to share.
Your Window of Opportunity
From June 2019 to August 2020, my data science team at Outreach analyzed more than 12 million prospects.
We found that the window for every sales touchpoint is incredibly small. Sales reps only have 14 days to engage a buyer before the conversion potential is so low that it’s no longer worth following up.
Let’s look at the numbers:
- After two days of prospect silence, the expected conversion rate drops 3x
- After four days, that drops further to 4x
- After seven days, 6x
- After 14 days, 10x
Buyer Silence is Deadly
Our data backs up what we always thought to be true — it’s critical to follow up with leads as soon as possible.
As you inch closer to the end of the 14-day window, the likelihood of engaging with a buyer begins to disappear.
Of the 12 million prospects we studied, only 2 percent (240,000) scheduled a meeting. Taking this further, 60 percent of interested prospects responded within 24 hours and 92 percent within 14 days.
After 14 days, the chance of receiving a reply is practically nothing.
What You Need to do
Waiting too long to follow up with a prospect is a mistake even the best sales professionals make. There’s a fine line between pushing too hard and not pushing hard enough, and it’s hard to know where you fall on that spectrum.
We found that it’s best to take a proactive approach.
Here are three things you can do to be more proactive about breaking your prospect’s silence…
1. Don’t Hesitate to Tweak Your Strategy
There’s only so much time in a day, so you need to focus on what works and shelve what doesn’t.
This is why it’s so important to A/B test everything and why data science is such a critical part of both sales enablement and improving sales processes.
If there’s something that’s worked for you in the past, stick with it until the results no longer match your effort.
From there, identify potential changes and test them on unresponsive prospects.
This allows you to start fresh, determine if your tweak was successful, and refine your approach.
Never hesitate to try a different angle.
For example, change up your channels. If phone calls aren’t generating a response, reach out via email or LinkedIn. And if that doesn’t work, consider other social platforms.
Our data shows that successful reps include 9 touches across multiple channels over the course of the 14-day window.
What’s the takeaway?
Test and track your sequence as it relates to your specific sales cycle. Don’t stab around in the dark. Gather data, and follow where it leads.
2. Change Your Ask
As you tweak your approach, you’ll begin to see what is and isn’t working. But if your prospect still remains silent, changing your ask could be the answer.
For example, your first contact probably included an invitation to book a 15-minute Zoom meeting.
Sounds easy enough, right?
To you, yes, but to some prospects, it may be too much this early in the sales cycle. Changing your ask gives your prospect something else to think about.
And if you frame it right, it’ll be more attractive to them.
Rather than request, they book a meeting, you could:
- Ask them to shoot you a brief email with any questions they have
- Request a simple thumbs up or thumbs down on whether they’re interested or not
- Share a piece of content with them — such as a case study or white paper — and ask for feedback
- Send them to a landing page on your website
What’s the takeaway?
With the right sales engagement platform, you can quickly gain insight into how different messaging is performing — CTAs, follow-up, and more. Use that information to know when to pivot your ask.
3. Emphasize Value
You can reach out as many times as you want in an attempt to break buyer silence, but if you have nothing of value to offer, it won’t matter.
Emphasize value above all else. And make sure you do so early in your communication.
For instance, if you’re sending a follow-up email to a lead, touch on the value you offer in the first line.
Show the prospect why it’s worth their time and effort to connect with you.
Now I’m not just talking about value propositions. No, instead, focus on sharing helpful resources.
Offer specific tips and guidance that align with the prospect’s pain points (Don’t take a one size fits all approach).
Your window to provide value is short.
Fourteen days isn’t nearly as long as it sounds. And remember, with each passing day, the likelihood of a response shrinks.
You can only expect 0.8% of prospects who didn’t respond on day one to convert. By day seven, that number falls to 0.4%. And by day 14, it’s all the way down to 0.2%.
What’s the takeaway?
If you don’t emphasize value early on, there’s a greater chance that all you’ll get in return is radio silence.
Know When to Move On
It’s a tough pill to swallow, but after day 14, it may be time to move on.
You don’t have to forget about the lead entirely, but it’s time to put it on autopilot (such as an email nurture sequence).
Wasting time on that lead at this point is just that — a waste of resources.
The most successful sales professionals are those with a targeted plan for reaching prospects early in the buying cycle. They reach out early and often, they test and refine their approach, and they always emphasize value.
If you do that, you’ll be able to identify potential wins, break through the silence, and start engaging with more buyers fast.
If you want to go into this topic in more depth, or if you want to see more of the data we collected from our research, you can check out our full report — The Secret to Breaking Buyer Silence in the Sales Cycle.