I have been a sales contributor, executive leader, and entrepreneur throughout my career. One thing I know for sure, the number of touchpoints has increased from 2 to almost 13. That is right. It is harder to engage with a prospect. It takes dedication, a good strategy, perseverance, plus a sequence of touchpoints to increase your engagement rate.
All of my clients ask the same question:
How many touchpoints are required before a prospect engages? My answer: it all depends!
How many touchpoints should my team make before they give up? Again, it all depends!
What vehicles of communication should my team employ? (how, when, what)
How often should my team reach out to the prospect?
These are all great questions. However, there is not a one-size fits all model that results in an engagement. Every person, business, and industry reacts differently. In this blog, I will provide guidance on touchpoints that will greatly improve your engagement rate.
What is a Touchpoint?
I have used the word touchpoint several times. What is a touchpoint? A touchpoint is the process of reaching out to a prospect via email, phone call, or snail mail – yes, people still use the US Post Office. It is a means of contact between a buyer and a seller. It includes, real live communication between both parties. It requires an interaction to occur – like leaving a voicemail, not hanging up.
Looking back two decades, marketing created content, targeted consumers, built brand awareness, with the hope the consumer would engage with their brand. By engaging with their brand, the consumer either contacted pre-sales, customer service, or they walked into their brick and mortar store. However, with the advent of the web, consumers no longer require those types of engagements. Would you agree?
The world we live in today has transitioned into a self-serving society. We bag our own groceries, tag our bags at the airport, book our own plane tickets, rent our own cars, and reach for our mobile device to conduct our own research.
Now put yourself in the shoes of your prospect. What do you think they are doing? They are performing their own research. Now ask yourself, how many touchpoints do you need before a prospect is willing to engage with you and your brand?
How many Touchpoints before engagement?
There is plenty of research that supports the notion that 7 touchpoints are sufficient before dropping a prospect off your radar. In a Salesforce blog, they said 6 to 8 touches before a prospects becomes a lead; Online Marketing Institute suggests 7 to 13 touchpoints before a prospect becomes a qualified lead; Spear Marketing noted 7 touches; and Marketing Profs say’s 8 touches. What is the magic number?
There is no magic number. Each company, industry, and buyer persona are different. Each person may or may not require the same amount of touches. However, as a business development rep, it is your responsibility to create a cadence and follow it religiously. Create A/B testing cadence. Evaluate the progress. Monitor the engagements – click-through, open rate, bounce rate, call-to-action, and modify your plan-of-attack if the data points are not aligned with your goals.
Don’t Give Up
If you are like most business development reps, 44% of them give up after one follow up call. That means 54% of them are forging forward to meet their touchpoint goal. The average salesperson only makes 2 attempts to reach a prospect, but in the Salesforce blog, it say’s it takes 6 to 8 touches before they become a lead — why stop at 2 attempts? Don’t set yourself up for failure before you have a chance to succeed. As you go through the stages of defining your target customer, you must commit to a number touchpoints – from start to finish, before eliminating the prospect from your acquisition list.
As you reach out to your prospect, you must provide value in one way or another. Your vehicle of communication requires a mix of touchpoints. For example, your first line of communication might be a phone call – an introduction. The second touchpoint might be sending some helpful information via email. Your third touchpoint might include a handwritten note with a few short tips. Be creative — send a tin of cookies, flowers, odd shaped box, single shoe, a small box of cheap pens with your name and brand on it.
Contacting a Prospect
I’ve played around trying to figure out the best time of the day to reach a prospect. Some of you will agree, that reaching a live person is almost impossible. My family doesn’t pick-up my phone call. But within a minute, I get a text from them – Hey, what’s up?
Inside Sales reported the best time to reach a prospect is from 4-5pm, second best time 8-10am, and the worst time 11-2pm. Massimo Group added the best days to reach a prospect are Wednesday and Thursday, 6:45-9am and 4-6pm. RingDna indicated that the absolute worst day to prospect is Monday and Friday from 6am-12pm.
If you look at these data points, how much time does a business development rep have to prospect?
I guess it all depends who’s data you believe. I have had great success calling in the early morning (7am-8am) and late in the day (after 5pm), Tuesday through Friday. Some people would disagree with me about not prospecting between 11:30 and 1:30pm, Monday-Friday as well. I will not bother anyone having their lunch. As you can see from this graph, a few of the consulting firms disagree with prospecting times.
I like to catch people early in the day before they get involved in their planning phase. Several times I would get this type of response: I only have a few minutes, and that is all I need. If they say I have 10 minutes, I stick to 10 minutes and not one more minute. I will respect their time. Ask for a follow up meeting.
On the flip side, catching a prospect late in the day typically results in the same time crunch comment. I’m ok with that – as long as I can schedule a follow up call.
As you review the above “right” time and “wrong” time matrix for prospecting, use a little common sense. What is the likelihood that you are going to achieve a higher prospecting engagement on a Friday afternoon or Monday morning? It’s obvious, based upon the data I used in the matrix, that each company has conflicting information.
Email Response Rates
Keep in mind, touchpoints include sending emails. As you go through your day crafting emails, you must consider the appropriate time to send them out. What is the best time of the day – morning, night, or weekends? According to Yesware, who analyzed over 500,000 B2B sales emails, concluded that emails sent during the weekday have a 39.1% response, and weekends have a 45.8% response. Furthermore, open rates during the weekday were 66.3%, weekend ends 73.6%.
The best time to send an email is between 6-7am and around 8pm, in order of getting a reply.
photo curtesy Yesware
Many believe that Monday are the best days to send an email, and Friday’s are the worst. Yesware’s research indicated that there is no “best” day for sending emails, all days are good days.
The most important thing a business development can do is setup an automated cadence of touchpoints or drip campaign to communicate with their prospect. There are those who believe that sending out a drip campaign 5 minutes before the hour and 5 minutes after the hour will increase engagement. The thought behind this theory is that most decision makers are moving from meeting to meeting. They check their email as they are in transit. Keep in mind that creating a massive drip campaign may get throttled back by your ISP – Google is notorious for this.
Finally, what type of touchpoint should you create and how often? If you agree that 7 touchpoints are your goal, you might want to follow a sequence like this:
- Phone call
- Mail – Handwritten note
- Phone Call
- Phone Call
- Phone call and email
This depends on whether you are setting up an inbound or outbound cadence. For inbound cadence, the shorter the intervals, the likelihood you will have high engagements. These engagements are typically sales-ready.
There is the belief that “often”, every few days, over the course of a month, is ideal, while others believe 60 days is key.
30 day Cadence
60 Day Cadence
Photo Curtesy ToutApp
Throughout your touchpoint cadence, consider the audience, industry, and the person. There is no right and wrong way of prospecting and no concrete evidence pointing to the length of time, and how often to prospect before calling it quits. Experienced salespeople know it takes time to engage with a sales prospect, and being persistent is key to a big payday. If one approach does not work, evaluate the effectiveness, modify the approach, and test again.
Should I email, call, or send a handwritten note? I believe there should be an equal mix for prospecting. Lazy reps will opt for more email. It’s easy. A good sales rep will combine 60/40 mix of call/email. A great rep will include email, call, and handwritten note 40/35/25%. Why do I put so much emphasis on handwritten note? Because it is a lost art form. When was the last time you received a handwritten note? How did you feel when you received it? I had a sales manager years ago who wrote “thank you” notes and prospected by mail. He taught us, you will only succeed by the amount of effort you put into your sales activities. He was right. By sending out handwritten notes, our engagement skyrocketed. Our brand (rep name & company) was in front of our audience.
No matter how you slice the pie, consult with your sales manager, put together a sales strategy, and stick to it. Keep a keen eye open to what is working and what is not. Test your prospecting times and days, change around your messages, subject lines, and increase or decrease the number of touchpoints. I guarantee your engagement rate will increase.