Posted by: johnocunningham | November 30, 2012

How Many “Impressions” Make a Sale?

I have noticed a lot of conversation in social media and marketing circles lately about how many contacts with a prospect are typically necessary to convert them into a client.

I have also heard from many legal marketers that attorneys frequently expect a business development initiative, such as a lunch seminar or a newsletter launch, to result in quick sales. When an initiative fails to deliver immediate results, some lawyers will question whether the initiative should be abandoned.

The short answer to this is “NO.”

Very few initial contacts with prospects result in immediate sales in any industry. In fact, a marketing study that is often cited in sales circles (but which I could not find to examine the study) has determined how many impressions – on average – make a sale, and they have concluded that less than two percent of sales come from an initial contact while 80 percent of sales come only after AT LEAST five contacts or impressions. Naturally, some contacts with prospective clients are better than others, and the success rate will vary based on the quality of the salesperson, the quality of the impression made, the kind of product or sevice being sold, and other variables. But overall, the batting average is such that you need five or MORE trips to the plate to get a hit!

A blogger for Microsoft Business for Small and Midsize Companies has similarly noted that marketing experts with knowledge of other sales studies are generally in agreement that it takes 7 to 12 contacts to turn a prospect into a customer. Apple Computer, Inc. has also studied how many trips a prospect will make to a retail store before deciding to become an Apple computer buyer, and they have the number pegged at 6 to 7 trips (just ask a Mac genius).

Thus, any marketing initiative should have a budget and planning component that anticipates multiple touches with prospects, and well-crafted follow-ups after an initial impression. Of course, it also helps if prospects are “pre-qualified” so that you don’t waste time courting someone who is never going to be a good client.

Even the best hitters in baseball fail to get a hit two-thirds of the time. So if you get the brush-back, just get up and keep taking your swings until you make contact!


  1. […] you’ve got to show this again. And again. And again. Often it takes seven impressions or more for folks who’ve never heard of you before to take […]

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