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How Many Touches Does it Take to Make a Sale?

How Many Touches Does It Take to Make a Sale?

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Written by Mike Schultz
President, RAIN Group

How many touches does it take to make a sale?

The simple answer is: more than most people think!

According to our Top Performance in Sales Prospecting research, it takes an average of 8 touches to get an initial meeting (or other conversion) with a new prospect. But the initial meeting is just the beginning. It takes a lot more to make the sale.

You need to think of your sales and outreach efforts in 3 parts:

  1. Interest: Getting through to targeted buyers and securing an initial meeting to generate awareness and build interest.
  2. Consideration: Converting that meeting into a qualified opportunity.
  3. Commitment: Bringing the opportunity to a proposal and a win. (For tips on this, read how to write a proposal.)

There's a lot that goes on in each of these stages, and they tend to require frequent touches, outreach, and meetings with your buyers.

As a part of our research, we surveyed 489 sellers who outbound prospect. We studied their prospecting results, outreach methods, offers, and more. There's a significant difference in the results between those who are Top Performers and The Rest in each stage of the sale.

Generating Meetings

While on average it takes 8 touches to get through and generate a conversion, Top Performers are able to generate meetings with fewer touches. It takes Top Performers an average of 5 touches to generate a conversion. (Learn more about how to generate these meetings in our white paper, 5 Sales Prospecting Myths Debunked.)

Results from our study show Top Performers have better targeting, messaging, and value offers for meetings. This leads to more conversations and fewer touches to generate them.

Indeed, Top Performers convert 52 out of every 100 target contacts compared to The Rest, who convert only 19. That's 2.7x more meetings for Top Performers. Top Performers are also much more likely to say the meetings are high quality (100% vs. 55%).

Converting Meetings into Qualified Opportunities

Not all meetings result in a qualified opportunity. In fact, the majority of initial meetings are either going to result in long-term leads or nothing at all. In our 2010 research on lead generation, approximately 25% of outbound leads generated were short-term and 75% were long-term, requiring an ongoing process to bring them to a qualified opportunity.

Read: 7 Steps to a Successful Sales Meeting When the Seller Drives Demand

Don't fret if they don't want to buy right away. Even though buyers may not perceive a need for your products and services—which would've prompted them to reach out themselves—they may desire the results you can help them achieve. It's up to you to educate and inspire buyers during your meetings and connect their goals with what you have to offer.

You may generate a qualified opportunity from just one meeting, but more often you inspire them with new possibilities and get them talking internally about new options for action they hadn't yet considered.

Because it typically takes a number of meetings to generate a qualified opportunity, the importance of perseverance in follow up to support your prospecting efforts cannot be overstated.

Number of Meetings, Conversations, or Demos to Generate Qualified Opportunity

Number of Touches Needed to Generate a Qualified Opportunity

Bringing Opportunities to Proposal and Winning

Top Performers not only secure more meetings, but also bring a higher percentage of them to proposal. Top Performers bring 56% of opportunities to proposal compared to only 46% of opportunities generated by The Rest. Top Performers also achieve significantly higher win rates on proposed business (48% vs. 37%).

The Top Performer Difference

Overall, Top Performers in Sales Prospecting are better at defining a strong value proposition for their meetings with buyers, targeting the right buyers at the right levels, and delivering first meetings that are both more customized and value-focused than The Rest. It's no wonder they generate more conversions in fewer touches, bring more opportunities to proposal, win opportunities more, and hit their goals more often.

But even for Top Performers, it takes more touches than they may initially think to end up with the sale.

Stay focused, persevere in your outreach efforts, and drive value for buyers in your sales conversations, and you'll see an increase in sales wins soon enough.

RECOMMENDED READING >> 50 Powerful Sales Questions
Last Updated December 19, 2023

Topics: Sales Research Sales Prospecting