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:
1. Select activities which create value and which positions the sales professional as a Credible Expert in their field
2. Develop a series of 11 touches
3. Plan to deliver regular and consistent value over a three-to-six month period
4. 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.