Everything you need to know about sales touchpoints and more in one article
Blog posts that gatekeep the answer to the question they discuss till the very end of the article are the bane of our existence.
When we Google something, we want to get the information we’re searching for straightaway, right?
So, here’s the answer to your question:
On average, it takes eight touchpoints to close a sale. (Source: RAIN Sales Training)
If that answers your question, feel free to take this information and use it as intended — it’s all yours.
However, if you want to boost your sales, it’s not only about the quantity but also the quality of the touchpoints.
This article explains what a sales touchpoint is, discusses the importance of customer touchpoint management, shares an ultimate touchpoint combo that will increase your conversion rate, and some best practices for effective touchpoint management.
What is a sales touchpoint?
In a nutshell, touchpoints are your company’s points of customer contact, from start to finish. It’s a collection of interactions a customer has with your brand from the first connection to the moment when they purchase a product or service and advocate the said product or service to others.
It’s important to note that channels are not touchpoints as the latter is more precise. For example, a social media platform would be a channel, while a post comment section or direct messages would be touchpoints.
Depending on the stage where your customers are in their customer journey, sales touchpoints can be divided into three key buckets:
- Before purchase
- During purchase
- After purchase
Depending on where a specific touchpoint takes place, it’s possible to differentiate between online and offline touchpoints.
Based on whether or not you can manage a touchpoint, they can be divided into:
- Controllable touchpoints, are the ones that are created and curated by your company. For example, advertising, email marketing, SEO, events, presentations, etc.
- Non-controllable touchpoints are those over which you don’t have control. They occur independently, without your company’s involvement in the process. For example, word of mouth, discussions on social media, forums, and product rating platforms.
To increase customer satisfaction and maximise the number of sales, you need to get involved in the customer touchpoint management process and map out all the touchpoints along the customer journey in such a way that they create an enjoyable customer experience.
Even though non-controllable touchpoints are out of your company’s area of influence, you still need to monitor them actively. Otherwise, you risk finding yourself amid a storm of online comments and offline conversations trash-talking your product without a chance to address and fix the situation.
Why is customer touchpoint management important?
There are numerous advantages associated with effective customer touchpoint management:
- It gives you a competitive edge. When you create a continuous flow of information about your brand and the product you’re trying to sell, you differentiate yourself from the competition.
- It generates better brand recognition and brand awareness. By increasing the number of interactions your customers have with your brand, you place it at the forefront of their minds, so when they’re ready to make a purchase, they know where to go.
- It helps you position your product exactly the way you want it to be seen by the target audience. By curating the touchpoints, you get control over what your customers learn about your brand and your products and when they do so. You align all the possible touchpoints with the different stages of the customer journey.
- It helps to elevate customer satisfaction. When you regularly analyse the effectiveness of different touchpoints and adjust them accordingly, you improve the customer experience, increasing customer satisfaction.
- It helps to generate more customer recommendations. When customers are satisfied with your product and your company throughout their customer journey, they’re more likely to recommend you to their friends and colleagues and, therefore, liven up your referral marketing.
- It increases sales. When all your touchpoints are aligned with customers’ needs and wants throughout the customer journey, you get a better chance at converting leads into customers and, subsequently, brand advocates.
What are the different types of sales touchpoints?
We’ve already established that there are three buckets where the touchpoints belong — before the purchase, during the purchase, and after the purchase.
Now, let’s look at each stage's most common and effective touchpoints.
Before the purchase touchpoints
Since the primary goal of touchpoint management is to sell, the majority of key touchpoints fall into the before-the-purchase category. Below are the examples of the most impactful ones:
Online ads — just like offline ads — are one of the most effective ways to put your product out there and make your target audience that knows little to nothing about your brand aware of your offerings.
There are many different types of online ads, from display and native ads to digital banners on websites — they all target different groups of people and serve different purposes. However, there’s one thing all of them have in common: to be effective, they need to be bright, captivating and reflect your business USP well.
An effective online ad should:
- Feature your brand logo
- Use power words
- Contain a clear CTA
- Explain how your product can benefit the customer
When designed well, online ads can generate lots of traffic and leads to your website and increase your conversion rate.
2. Testimonials and other forms of social proof
Potential users trust current users. That’s why potential customers seek reviews and testimonials from other customers when searching for a product to buy online. They want to make sure that the product lives up to the expectations.
Your job is to accommodate this touchpoint and plant as many testimonials online as possible — both on the pages of your website, your social media and on third-party platforms.
Remember, honesty is the best policy, so it’s vital that all the reviews you place on your website are real feedback from real customers. Otherwise, the credibility of your business will decline.
3. Social media content
According to a consumer survey by Curalate, a total of 76% of consumers have purchased a product they saw in a brand’s social media post, and 65% of U.S. consumers have claimed that a link in a post led them to a product they weren’t originally interested in purchasing.
So, your business must set up business profiles on all the social media platforms where your target audience resides and post content regularly.
For better exposure, you should alternate between promotional content talking about your product and how it can benefit your customers and educational posts that bring in top-of-the-funnel customers.
On top of that, you should strive to mention your product as a solution to the target audience’s problems wherever possible and optimise your content for search by including relevant keywords, hashtags, tags, mentions, ALT-text, and visuals.
Learn more about developing a robust LinkedIn content marketing strategy in our article.
4. Your website and your blog
While a corporate website is an important touchpoint for any B2B business, it’s particularly vital for SaaS businesses as they don’t offer anything tangible. Therefore, for SaaS companies, a website is a platform where they can explain all the product or service's benefits in detail and convince potential customers to make a purchase.
To make this touchpoint as effective as possible, you need to develop the website’s UX/UI and check all of your content to ensure that it is error-free, fully functional, and up to date.
You need to power your website up with a blog to make it even more impactful. By committing to blogging, you increase your chances of driving traffic to your website by 400 times and accommodate additional customer touchpoints. Moreover, when your articles are well-written, actionable, and helpful, you can easily establish yourself as an industry expert, majorly increasing your brand’s credibility and authority.
No matter how hard you try, the chunk of the target audience you can reach on your own is limited. Therefore, it makes sense to expand the number of touchpoints by acquiring them from other companies through partnerships.
By establishing meaningful relationships with other businesses, you get a chance to get through with your content to the customers that trust and follow your partners.
There are numerous ways to partner with other companies: you can launch a mutually beneficial campaign, launch an affiliate program, sponsor an event, co-host a webinar, invite them to contribute to your blog post, etc.
6. Word of mouth and referrals
Word of mouth is one of the most uncontrollable yet important touchpoints along the customer journey.
In fact, according to stats, 92% of consumers trust referrals from people they know. Customers referred by other customers have a 37% higher retention rate, and 65% of new business opportunities come from referrals and recommendations.
While you can’t directly impact your customers’ recommendations, you can encourage referrals by launching a referral program and improving the quality of your product and after-purchase care.
Further reading: 9 ways to get high-quality referrals from your customers
During the purchase touchpoints
Before-the-purchase touchpoints are important, but they can’t nudge your potential customers towards making a purchase alone. To reinforce their effectiveness, you also need to manage the during-the-purchase touchpoints. Here are some of the most fruitful ones:
Once you secure a sales demo with a potential customer, it’s already a job half done; you’ve already made it further than most of your competitors. Now, you need to reassure the customer that they’ve made the right decision of giving yet another touchpoint a try and were right about trusting you.
For your demo to be a successful touchpoint, you need to research your prospect, design your demo beforehand, and tackle the meeting in a way that proves that your product is just the solution your customer needs.
Find out how to prepare for a sales demo that converts in our guide to sales demos.
2. Sales team activities
This is the most direct touchpoint your company gets with a customer — a one-to-one conversation with a sales representative, where the potential customer can ask all the questions they have, and the sales rep can convince them that the product in question covers all their needs and wants, and will be of benefit to them.
To ensure your sales reps’ activities are effective, you must have your customer’s journey mapped out and readily available when the time comes. Ideally, all the information regarding the customer’s preferences, points of contact, interests, and pain points should be stored in one place, your CRM system.
Your potential customers might be well aware of your product, a step away from making a commitment and buying your product, yet still hesitant about making a purchase.
To tip the scale and entice them to buy your product, you should consider doing a series of promotional activities. This could include a small discount, some extra services or some other extra benefits that will make your offer stand out and be more valuable in the eyes of the potential customer.
After the purchase touchpoints
Since we’re aiming high and want to get the most out of touchpoint management, it’s not enough to just get your lead to convert into a paying customer — you also want to make them loyal brand ambassadors that keep buying from you and recommend your products to their network. That’s why you should extend your customer touchpoints beyond when a purchase is made and set up a series of after-the-purchase touchpoints.
Here are a couple of ideas on how to keep interacting with your customers in a meaningful way after they buy your product so that they turn into returning customers and give you a referral.
Many companies dismiss transactional emails and don’t pay enough attention to fine-tuning them. This, however, is a huge mistake. Transactional emails are essentially the start of a new stage in your relationship with a lead-turned-customer that sets the tone for all your subsequent communications in the new roles. You can use it to soft-launch your welcome campaign, thank your customer for buying your product, and confirm that the transaction was successful.
At the end of the day, transactional emails are one of the most expected touchpoints in the customer journey as customers want to make sure their money got to you safe and sound, and they can start using your product without any problems.
To ensure your customers don’t wait for the payment confirmation for ages, we recommend automating this process with a CRM that offers email marketing automation.
2. Feedback surveys
After a customer has been using your product for a certain period of time, you should reach out to them to learn more about how they’re finding your product and whether or not it has met all their expectations.
By being proactive when it comes to collecting feedback, you drastically reduce customer churn, find out possible areas for improvement, and guide your customers towards more efficient use of your product.
The easiest way to manage this touchpoint is to automate it. For example, in NetHunt CRM, you can create the following automated workflow: Deal won ➡️ Wait for X days ➡️ Send a survey. With this workflow in place, the system will automatically distribute a customer feedback survey after your client has been using the product for some time.
Remember, it’s not enough to just send out feedback surveys and receive feedback. To make a touchpoint truly effective, you need to also close these feedback loops by responding to customer feedback and all potential requests.
3. Customer success activities
Customer success activities are incredibly important after-the-purchase touchpoints that determine whether or not the customer will find their customer experience pleasant. Your customer success team’s job is to ensure that the customer understands how to use the product they’ve purchased and make the most out of it.
Apart from the onboarding process, you should also schedule regular face-to-face training sessions, product updates meetings, and a series of automated emails congratulating your customers on their achievements, milestones, and special occasions.
4. Online help centre
No matter how extensive your onboarding process is, it’s likely that customers will still have some questions left. While providing robust, continuous, and easily accessible customer support is important, it’s equally important to accommodate another touchpoint — an online help centre with answers to all the frequently asked questions.
Maximising the impact at each customer touchpoint: Best touchpoint management practices
Define customer touchpoints from the customer perspective, not the company perspective
Many old-fashioned companies still believe that customers behave in a specific way and enter the sales pipeline at one point at the top of the funnel, then gradually proceed down the funnel to the bottom. For a lot of these companies, a map of touchpoints would look something like this:
- Sales rep
- Welcome letter/Customer communications
- Customer service
The problem with this approach to touchpoint management is that it’s no longer relevant. Because of the rapid digitalisation of the world, the way people buy today has changed, even in the B2B market. They have much greater access to information, which makes the customer journey significantly less linear.
They might find a mention of your product via a social media post, then check out your help centre, not find the answer to your question and step away for a bit. Later, they might stumble across your blog post, examine your website again, find it significantly more interesting, schedule a demo, etc.
You need to consider their possible behaviour when designing your touchpoints. Instead of approaching the task from the company point of view, opt for building an inventory of customer touchpoints from the customer perspective.
Ask yourself... Where do you go (and how do you get there) when you 👇
- Have a problem that needs to be solved?
- Discover the product or business that will solve that problem?
- Make your purchase decision?
- Encounter the business after the purchase?
When you walk yourself through the customer’s journey step-by-step, all the pieces should become pretty clear.
Don’t only look at the touchpoints individually; always account for the bigger picture
Earlier in the article, we established that the customer journey isn’t linear: customers jump from one point of contact to another without a set-in-stone succession of touchpoints.
That is why it’s essential to ensure that all of your touchpoints are coordinated with each other and work towards achieving the same goal of landing you a deal.
Ideally, you should aim to create a continuous customer experience that feels natural regardless of where engagement with a potential customer leaves off and gets picked up again.
Automate your touchpoints as much as possible
The more touchpoints you have, the more difficult it is to manage them all effectively. You need to pay attention to a wide range of content, react to requests promptly, and always be one step ahead of your competitors.
You can only do this by ditching manual touchpoint management and automating as many touchpoints as possible. Consider investing in a reliable CRM solution that offers sales and marketing automation capabilities and integrations with various third-party apps for the best results.
Here are a couple of touchpoints you can automate with NetHunt CRM:
- Immediately capture customer data when a potential customer visits your site and fills out a webform. NetHunt CRM will scrape all that glorious data and pop it into a shiny, new record in your CRM dashboard.
- Set up drip campaigns to nurture leads automatically via email.
- Link Facebook Messenger conversations and calls to customer records in the CRM.
- Send relevant content at every stage of the customer journey.
- Set automated alerts for whenever something noteworthy happens in the sales pipeline.
Regularly review your touchpoints
We might disappoint you with this one but… Even after you set up eight extremely effective touchpoints, it’s still not enough to call it a day and move on to other tasks. Both quantity-wise and quality-wise.
The grind never stops!
You need to constantly monitor the situation in the Metaverse (and the real world, too, of course) to see if any other touchpoint opportunities become available. As well as that, you need to regularly review your already existing touchpoints to see how they perform, whether or not your competitors are using the same practices, and how you can improve customer experience.
To do that, you need to go over a series of questions:
- What specific things are you doing at each touchpoint?
- Are the touchpoints addressing customers’ motivations, answering their questions, or reducing concerns?
- Do your touchpoints work for both newbies and experts?
- Are the touchpoints addressing your customers’ unmet/underlying/latent needs? Are there needs going unstated that neither you nor competitors are solving?
- Do all the touchpoints speak with the same tone, the same message, even the same words? Is your brand being communicated effectively and clearly?
- Is the flow from one stage to the next smooth, or is there anything that may cause potential customers to drop off or cause dissatisfaction for current customers?
- Are the touchpoints differentiating you from competitors and helping retain the customer?
On top of that, it’s always helpful to set up weekly/monthly/quarterly reporting to see how your touchpoint management affects your sales pipeline. That way, you can spot all the problems early and eradicate them at the onset.
Touchpoint management might not be the easiest thing to master and carry out, but once you know the direction where your efforts should be headed, the roadmap becomes clear:
A minimum of 8 touchpoints, filled with high-quality, relevant, and relatable content, personalised to your target audience, and aligned with each other.
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