The magic of low-touch sales

The concept of a low-touch sales approach is not new, it’s been around for years. David Skok named it a few years back “the touchless conversion sales model” – a most accurate name.
However, in the past year, this concept seems to have some sort of a revival. We meet entrepreneurs and startups on a daily basis, and we hear from them over and over again “we want our product to be sold low touch”.

When we ask them what they mean, they basically say they want their product to be sold online with very little (if any) sales personnel. It almost sounds like magic. You put your product on your website, you drive traffic, and it miraculously, effortlessly sells.

Like most things magic, there’s an illusion behind the no-touch sales approach. Companies like Zendesk, Mailchimp, Surveymonkey and others that are identified with low touch worked very hard to get to a successful sales model. And they continue to fine tune it.

What does it mean to be low-touch or no-touch?
It doesn’t really mean that you eliminate your sales team. The touchless approach is not touchless at all – it differs in the way it places the necessary gentle touch of the sales team. the low touch sales approach eliminates or minimizes the sales team at the beginning of the sales cycle, while beefing up customer success reps after free trial. Call them however you want to call them, those customer success reps are doing sales. By showing value during a free trial, they upsell. So cost-per-acquisition is not necessarily low – it is basically customer support that drives conversion. That’s where the “hidden” sales costs are.

One interesting fact to note that all those great examples for low cost sales success stories: they have all added sales team later on. Mostly, Zendesk and likes started by targeting SMBs, and when they’ve outgrown their market, they added formal sales teams to target bigger accounts.

If low-touch or no-touch sales is the right approach for your startup, what are the basic requirements to make it a success?
1. A strong layer of customer success reps – less selling, more about trial success and showing value
2. Clear value proposition – a must, in order to shorten time-to-value in trial
3. Pricing needs to be very low, no more than $499/month on the expensive package (credit card limit), with a clear value to a free trial
4. You need to be able to generate large volume of leads

And, more than anything else, it is in a company’s DNA than anything else to be able to be successful with low-touch – it requires a certain approach to the market, the product, the pricing,  and only then the marketing.

If you have any examples for successful low touch sales strategies, please share them with us.