We thought this article is one we should share with our Reach and pose the question - How Many Touches
Business Professionals Talk Client Acquisition
There is surprisingly little publicly available research that quantifies the number of interactions needed to convert a prospect into a relationship, particularly for a more complex sale. So I talked to the most successful people I know to find out how many touches it takes to reel in a new client.
What follows is the collective wisdom of 10 business professionals who have a wide range of experience. These folks are the A-team. I encourage you to connect with them. Their names link to their social profiles, and they share even more insight on their blogs.
Kit Yarrow, Ph.D Golden Gate University Professor and author of two acclaimed books,including the recently released, Decoding the New Consumer Mind, San Francisco. (Read Kit's latest book and blog; both are outstanding).
“Consumers have shorter attention spans and limited focus today. A decade ago, Americans believed news that they heard from only two sources. Today, it requires five. This is partly because consumers are less trusting of their sources, but also because of how they digest news - in quick bites, smaller chunks and snippets. The same is true for brands - it simply takes more contact and exposure to break through. Messages that match the way our speedier, distracted brains absorb information need to be short, simple, and symbolic.”
Bill Looney, President, DebtX, loan sale advisor, Boston
“People do business with people they know and like, even in the financial technology space, where common sense might suggest it’s all about numbers. It takes a minimum of 5 to 10 touches just to build the relationship to a point of being able to do business. Face-to-face meetings are the best type, of course. The difference between e-mail and telephone has changed over time, and now depends mostly on how the prospect prefers to communicate. Once the relationship is built, the path is open for the important conversations about needs, requirements and budgets that lead to sales. The good news for professional salespeople is that most others trying to develop business give up long before a relationship is made, leaving qualified prospects open for anyone willing to persevere.”
Matt David, CEO, Onyx, branded products and promotional marketing, Sausalito, Calif. (Check out Matt's blog, too.)
“After 20 years in sales and marketing, I believe the number of touches it takes to land a new client is generally two more than most believe or want it to be. In my industry, it is usually no fewer than 7. Most sales people stop short of having a new target tell them ‘NO,’ and thus they are far less likely to close a sale before they give up. It takes a lot to get someone's attention and then it takes additional, positive touches to convert them to a new client, as well.”
Chris Nichols, Chief Strategy Officer, CenterState Bank, San Francisco (Don’t miss Chris’ excellent blog about banking.)
"In banking, it takes 6 to 12 touches with a prospect before you can convert them into a full blown customer. Until we started tracking this number, most relationship managers completely underestimated the number of touches and the effort. Of those, on average it took about 5 face-to-face meetings for high-value, small business loan customers. The rest were by phone call or email. In fact, when our account reps said the prospect was “ready to come over” it really took an additional three to four months instead of the estimated two weeks. To speed the process, one of the best ways of segmenting and qualifying a customer is to hold a webinar."
Jeff Spears, CEO, Sanctuary Wealth Services, business accelerator for independent, high-net worth wealth advisors, San Francisco. (For a provocative and spicy read, check out Jeff’s blog, Wealth Consigliere.)
“To put a number on it, I would say 7 in-person touches and 20+ online touches. The most important contacts are those immediately after the sale is closed. We have a 5-stage advisory process. Each stage can have numerous touches based on the experience of the prospect. Our experience shows that following our process increases the probability of a successful and durable outcome.”
Erik Halvorssen, Business Development Director for The Americas, Lowenhaupt Global Advisors, family office, Miami
“In the high net worth world, it is all about trust and follow-up. The number of touches or contacts needed to convert will vary greatly from just a couple, to several dozen meetings, calls and emails. One thing is constant in this marketplace of the very wealthy: If you come recommended by a trusted friend or advisor, then the number of contacts needed before actually converting the prospect into a client is significantly lower than if you contact the prospect in any other way. In all cases, however, follow-up and perseverance is key.”
Jeff Van Tatenhove, West Coast Regional Head – Client Development, Relationship Science, lead generation information service of C-level influencers, Denver
“When selling a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution, it takes anywhere from 5 to 10 touches before a prospect turns into a client. Since many of the touches involve product demos and discussing how the solution can address critical business issues, the most important and effective touches are in-person. In-person meetings are also a good indication of the seriousness of the prospect; when the client takes the time to meet you in-person your chances are higher that the prospect will turn into a client.”
Jeff White, CEO, American Financial Group, wealth advisor, Philadelphia
“We believe it takes at least four touches and sometimes more to earn a new client. A new relationship after one or two touches scares us! That person may not remain a client long. Our goal is to keep a client relationship for many years. I don’t want our advisors to give quick advice after just a touch or two. They need to understand how each client approaches their financial life. The client needs to be sure our services are compatible with their objectives and expectations. Because we have so many resources and services, it takes multiple touches for a client to appreciate and fully utilize what we can do for them. And after a person becomes a client, we think periodic touches in person or by video are needed.”
John Hogan, CEO & founder ofTeenForce, a social enterprise creating employment opportunities for young adults, San Jose.
“We are finding that multiple touches are definitely necessary because timing is everything. Many clients tell us, ‘I learned about your services several months ago, but didn’t have a hiring need at the time. When your last newsletter (or Tweet or LinkedIn posting) came out, it reminded us of the good work you are doing, and this time we were seeking to fill a position.’ If your product isn’t something people buy every day or week, you absolutely need to be in contact multiple times, so you are top of mind when the need arises. This is critical to winning them as a new client. After that, your service delivery and support should earn their ongoing business.”
John Walsh, Underwriting Manager, Recovco Mortgage Management, Irving, Texas.
“Unlike before the financial crisis, it can now take 15 or more touches to close a deal. There are far more decision-makers in the process today due to added regulatory requirements. It is difficult to get someone to take ultimate responsibility for pulling the trigger. The process can take up to six months or longer and still a deal may not be struck. There are two main barriers to closing B-to-B clients in this environment. New regulatory/compliance laws have slowed the decision making process considerably. Data security has always been a primary issue, but when you throw in new licensing requirements from the SAFE Act it muddies the water. In this kind of environment, it requires more touches because so many things can go wrong.”
What Do You Think?
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