When considering a prospect, anyone involved in the marketing or sales process understands that one contact with a potential customer or client will very rarely seal the deal. While ten or more contacts gently persuaded buyers to take action decades ago, these days require a quicker and more direct approach. Determining how many contacts it takes to transform a prospect into a buyer depends largely on marketing methods. Current technology speeds up the process with more effective direct mail, email marketing and telephone contacts.
Before we get into the real meat of the answer, we should first define prospects and prospecting.
Who is a Prospect and What is Prospecting?
The term prospect is frequently used as a synonym for lead, although some sources define them differently. At its most basic, a prospect is a potential customer or client who may already be interested in whatever you have to sell and who is in a position to make a decision about buying.
Prospecting is the process a company undertakes to reach out to these potential customers or clients in order to connect professionally and encourage them to buy or hire.
In order to accomplish this, a salesperson makes contacts or touch points with the prospect. How many of these contacts are necessary is up for debate and the purpose of this article.
The Old Idea of Sales Contacts Leading to Sales
While building relationships with customers and clients is still vital to long-term success, the old-school marketers took it to extreme lengths. The process of wooing prospects began with a chat about football and ended with an invitation to a home-cooked dinner. Fast forward to a decade ago and the telephone dominated marketing, although postal direct mail was also used extensively.
The main different between then and now is how many contacts or touches salespeople used to send out before crossing a person off the “Potentials” list. It was not out of the realm of possibility to contact a prospect ten or more times before closing.
The Modern, More Streamlined Prospecting Process
Consumers and companies are bombarded with marketing material these days, and the last thing they want is more. This means that prospects will make up their minds more quickly about whether to buy or not, which also means that salespeople have fewer chances to convince them to do so. Ten or more contacts will be declared spam or even professional harassment.
Most sources say three to five touch points is all you get to turn a prospect into a customer or client. But what should these contacts consist of?
Some effective touch points include:
- Postal Direct mail
- Email marketing
- Phone calls
- In-person visit
Because prospecting efforts such as email marketing are so cost effective and relatively simple the are often thought of as an excellent first touch point when building a new professional relationship. Frankly, that may be too optimistic. With filtersand way too much eMail getting your message in the Inbox and read is very difficult. Postal mail is a great first start – letters or post cards are looked at even if it is just to put in the recycle bin. Salespeople must be creative and tailor their contacts to suit the audience, however.
Sales Contacts Leads – 5 Step Selling Process?
Within these three to five contacts, the combination of postal, email and telephone marketing may begin to work. You need to figure out the best possible mix of messages to get your “story” across and into buying consideration.
Do that, and these sales contacts are the beginning of a long-term professional relationship that brings benefits to both parties.