In 2011, Google commissioned a piece of research into how customers make buying decisions and coined the term, ‘Zero Moment of Truth’.  The Zero Moment of Truth refers to the period between a stimulus and the consumer making a decision to buy. Based on the research, they found that, on average, consumers needed 10.4 interactions before making a purchasing decision. With B2B sales, research has suggested the number of interactions is somewhere between 7 and 13 (and upwards). Accordingly, the 10.4 figure continues to resonate.
From a sales perspective, we refer to these interactions as ‘touches’ – and so we’re aiming to develop a system that allows for interactions over a three-to-six month period.
This is known as a Touch System.
To win time with key customers, we need to find a way to stand out from the competition. Rather than asking for an appointment or meeting, the key is to give something instead; something of value so that you begin to become significant in your (potential) customer’s mind.
A Touch System is a way to break down the value you will give to a key customer into a series of planned interactions. The plan needs to include two elements – the activity, and the communication route.
These activities that create value could be varied but should be significant. Articles or summaries of articles of interest, industry publications, legislation, guidance, benchmarking, testimonials, or educational invites, to name but a few. Communication routes could be post, face-to-face, email, phone, message, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and so on.
A customer once told me, ‘The reason I would give a sales person time would be if I thought they could help me to achieve my goals or objectives. So I’d be looking for them to begin engaging with me – perhaps sending me information that is relevant to my market, organisation, or role, or identifying things that they thought I’d be interested in. I wouldn’t meet someone because of the product they sold but because of the help they could bring.’
This is an incredibly powerful approach, and it requires us to:
- Select activities which create value and which positions the sales professional as a Credible Expert in their field
- Develop a series of 11 touches
- Plan to deliver regular and consistent value over a three-to-six month period
- Vary the communication route
In doing so, you position yourself away from the rest of the competition as someone who gives value first before asking for a meeting, appointment, or sale. You begin to position yourself as a Credible Expert (a term we will cover in depth over the course of this book) within an extremely purposeful and effective Touch System.
Old-school sales techniques are outdated, and anyone employing them will soon be outdated too.
Need satisfaction selling.
Pump and dump, pre-determined sales scripts.
What is required for success in our new economy are people who acknowledge their role as project managers, as professional change creators; those highly skilled people who can identify the right individuals to work with, who deliver Experience Insights, adapt their messages to their audiences, and who create value and significance.
Does that sound like you?
If those few words and ideas ‘click’ with you, if they resonate with you, and if they sound like they could describe the way you work – or hope to work – then what we’ll do over the remainder of this book is explore a structured approach to a set of key steps that will allow you to amplify each of them, to become even better at them, and become a top performer in your role.
Then, as with everything, it’s over to you.
The book is split out into three parts.
Part 1 – How You Think, Act, And Interact
Part 1 looks at the mindset required of the modern day sales professional, and the term I use for that person is ‘Intrapreneur’. It considers the changes required as a result of the changing market and the role the sales professional now plays in creating value and significance. And it considers the role of the system in which we operate, and how it influences our outcomes through a set of factors associated with human behaviour.
Part 2 – Driving The Customer Conversation
Part 2 lays out a six-step process to take a potential customer on a journey, through identification and winning time, to framing the conversation, provoking thought and discussion, and demonstrating your experience before highlighting your Unique Solution.
Part 3 – Becoming The Credible Expert
Part 3 breaks down the idea of creating value as part of the purchase experience to a set of key roles and activities that the sales person must adopt in order to succeed in the new economy and become The Credible Expert.
I hope you enjoy this book.
I trust it will provoke some thought and that on reading it, you’ll do something differently – even just one thing – which impacts you, your customers, and your business.
This excerpt is from the book “10.4 Interactions”