Have We Touched You Yet?

October 26, 2015

Many of us in the world of marketing, particularly B2B marketing, hear some variation of the same question all the time. “How many touches before you make a sale?” The question yields vastly different answers, the only accurate one of which is “It depends.” Which is not necessarily helpful.

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The concept makes sense: you need to give your spiel more than once for a potential customer to convert into an actual customer. Dr. Jeffrey Lant established the well-worn “Rule of Seven”- you need to contact a potential customer at least seven times in an 18-month period for them to remember you. (What’s really remarkable is the consistency of everyone he ever met.)

But reducing all potential customers to a number of “touches” is probably not the most effective way of marketing. Markets need to be segmented- some potential users are more skeptical than others; some are willing to pay more than the rest. Who can you target first? Can they bring their network on board?

Besides, there are so many other variables at play, not the least of which is external validation. Have the potential customer’s colleagues used the product? Do they like it? Has anyone outside of a company talked about its product? Did Steven Colbert talk about it on air? I suppose Steven Colbert could be a “touch,” but it’s in a different league than a cold sales call. Just ask Sabra hummus.

And the sales cycle varies so much depending on what’s being sold. Even in the world of B2B sales, you’re asking for quite a different level of commitment if you want to have a company completely overhaul their software infrastructure or buy a handful of your office chairs.

Here at Supply Clinic, we’re offering a platform through which dentists can buy their supplies, for less. They can buy comparable supplies, or the same brand names they’re used to, from different vendors. Convincing someone to buy the same items for less doesn’t necessarily take the same number of “touches” as trying to get them to switch to completely different products. It’s largely a matter of overcoming inertia. Just how high is the activation energy? Just how long ago did you take chemistry class?

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