Hi Touch, Lo Touch, No Touch

Sales are hard, I wrote the other week. I then went on to say that one of the ways sales can be made easier is by making it easier for the customer to sign the contract.

In a forthcoming email I’m going to talk about exactly that – how to make it easier for the customer to sign the contract. But, this week, I’m going to talk about something slightly different – what constitutes hard, and what constitutes easy, for these purposes.

In an ideal world, your standard sales contract goes through on a nod. “Sure” says the customer, “it all looks great to me, where do I sign?”. There are some B2B contracts which are like that (contracts for low value commodities, or the sales contracts of businesses with very high negotiating power, for instance) but for most B2B companies it’s not like that.

For most B2B companies it’s helpful to think of the contract negotiation, and the Sales Contracting Process generally, in terms of three bands of activity.

No Touch: There is no contract negotiation. Once the customer has decided to buy, there is no human intervention, she just signs (signing here being wet ink, digital ink, clicking – whatever works).

Lo Touch: for Lo Touch, there is human intervention. The customer wants clause 3.b tweaked. She wants more clarity around service levels. She wants to pay monthly, not annually. There is some human intervention, so it’s not No Touch, but it’s minor stuff.

Hi Touch: is what it sounds like. There is human intervention, and it’s not minor tweaks like Lo Touch, it’s a full on negotiation.

Most companies will have a mixture of all three bands, but some will have only one or two.

The point of the Sales Contracting Process (SCP) is to move Customers from Hi Touch to Lo Touch, and from Lo Touch to No Touch.

That’s what I mean when I talk about making it easier to sign the contract. If you’ve changed your SCP so that a customer that would have been Hi Touch has become Lo Touch, and a customer that would have been Lo Touch has become No Touch, you have made it easier for your business to get the customer to sign the contract and you have made Sales much, much easier.

For most B2B companies it’s helpful to think of the contract negotiation, and the Sales Contracting Process generally, in terms of three bands of activity.