Sales Touch Points: The Money Is In The Follow Up

Online marketing has come a long, long way since the glory days of the early internet.

Not only have the tools and capabilities available to marketers improved drastically, but general market sophistication has also gone through the roof.

Consumers in all demographics are much more perceptive than they were even just a few years ago. There’s much more scepticism in most markets — they’ve heard it all before — and people are willing and able to do their own research on any business they’re thinking about purchasing from.

This is why it’s rare that a visitor will convert on their first visit to your site, or that even a warm prospect will convert at an early point of contact with you. Of course, if your initial onboarding funnel does a great job of orienting them into your business and demonstrating your value, you might have a pretty good conversion rate right out of the gate.

But for most companies (particularly those making high price-point offers), getting the conversion can take a few interactions.

People want to get to know the way you approach the industry, that you’re a trustworthy and legitimate company, and that there are other people who have successfully done business with you.

This means that your marketing has to be more creative, more useful and more transparent than ever before. Instead of reinforcing people’s negative expectations of being marketed to, you want blow them away and make them want to get your marketing.

(It’s for this reason that I believe you should give away the farm. Giving away your best content, your expertise, your secret sauce — it makes people sit up and take notice. Let people see, in high definition, why you’re the best at what you do and exactly what they can expect from working with you. Transparency is the only weapon that cuts through the scepticism and resistance to online marketing.)

Just don’t expect people to be throwing money at you after you publish one blog post. I spoke about this with the guys on Digital Marketer’s Perpetual Traffic Podcast:

“In most businesses, customers require between six and eight touch points before they’ll make a conversion. By touch points, they are talking about interactions with you and your brand.

That might be a piece of content like a blog article, a podcast, a YouTube video, a Facebook ad, whatever it is. They need to interact with you, and not just see your stuff but interact with it, engage with it, six to eight times before they are likely to actually purchase something.

This is where a lot of people get stuck with their content marketing — they write up a blog post, or they put out a Facebook ad and expect it to convert people first time around.

If someone sees your ad and it’s the first time that they’ve ever come across your brand, they are very unlikely to convert at that stage. They might click on it, they might read the article, but they are extremely unlikely to actually make any kind of purchasing decision at that point.

You really need to take a long view with your content marketing that, yes, you might have a great blog post or you might have an amazing ad, but you’ve got to really leverage those things over the long term and make sure that you have the kind of ecosystem in place to follow-up with those people.

You need to make sure that you are retargeting them, make sure that you are showing them multiple pieces of content that are going to move them closer to that conversion point.”

(You can listen to the whole podcast here — we covered a lot of ground on getting people to come around to a conversion.)

The other thing to take into account is that all your prospects will come to you from different contexts.

Some of them will be very knowledgeable about the solutions available in your industry and have very sophisticated questions or interests. Others may have just realised that they need a solution to the problem you solve, and are in the very early stages of research. Some will have found you through blog posts or podcasts, while others might have clicked on an ad, seen a social media post or had a recommendation from someone they trust.

It’s your job to make sure that each prospect gets a complete, 360°  view of your approach, that their questions are answered and that they’re excited to buy before you make them any kind of sales offer.

It’s also your job to follow up regularly, so that there are real interactions forming some of those touch points. In any buying environment, you want the prospect to know, like and trust you, and the best way to make that happen is to interact with them directly. This personal element will often be what gets someone across the line and ready to buy — hence, the money is in the follow-up.

In B2B particularly, in order to move them towards a purchase as quickly as possible, you also want to factor in BANT: Budget, Authority, Need and Timeframe.

    • Budget: How much money the lead is willing and/or able to spend to get a solution that’s the right fit for them. You need to find out what their attitude is to spending and tailor your approach accordingly (some leads will pay whatever you ask in order to get the right solution, others will be much more price-sensitive. You need to know this, or have a gut feeling, before you go into any sales discussion.)
    • Authority: You need to be perceived as an authority in the field in order to inspire buying confidence. If people don’t believe you can deliver on what you promise, they won’t buy. Consumers in all industries want to see results in advance, and sharing these (through testimonials and case studies) establish you as the authority they’re looking for.
    • Need: Is the product or service you are moving this prospect towards actually what they need? Have you had conversations with your ideal customers about what their specifics needs are, to make sure your offering is as focused and relevant as possible? It sounds obvious but a lot of businesses get this wrong — you need to sell the exact thing your prospects need if they’re going to buy from you. (Yes, there is sometimes space for the ‘sell them what they want, give them what they need’ approach, but generally you should not presume to know what’s best for your customers.)
  • Timeframe: Is this the right time for them to be buying? This applies on both a micro and macro scale. The micro scale is whether it’s the right time for that particular prospect, based on their needs and current position. The macro scale is reflective of the seasonal elements every industry is subject to — for some (like ecommerce and retail), the end-of-year holidays represent the biggest sales opportunity of the year. For others (like services and consulting) Q1, Q2 and tax time are often going to be the bigger sales seasons.

Finally, it’s your role as the marketer to get your leads excited and actively wanting to buy before you make them a sales offer. Getting on a sales call before they’re emotionally committed to buying is a waste of your resources.

It’s better to put them through more touch points than you think is strictly necessary to ensure that when you make the offer, ‘yes’ is the only possible answer.