Qualified leads can improve your sales

score Question:
My firm solicitis sales leads for our field staff. The results from these leads are diasppointing, they don't realsut in the successful sales that I would expect or like. Any ideas for us to try to get improvement?

Answer:
Going on a sales call can be like sailing in the Bay of Fundy. Between the sun, the moon, the 40-foot tides and the wind, there are some pretty heavy forces tugging you in different directions.

Consider these cross-currents. You need to overcome price objections, but you alsoneed to sell at a price that earns a profit. You can't make promises on which you can't deliver and you don't want to sound as if you can't meet a customer's demand. You don't need potential clients to think you're in a hurry, but you don't want to easte time when you know you've lost a sale.

If all of these forces are balanced, you should be closing about one in five sales, However, if you're operating in a niche market and have a niche product and have researched your prospective clients, the numbers may be higher, say two in five.

On the other hand, if it's a generic product or service, the numbers probably will be smaller, like one in seven sales.

Closing below the 20 percent benchmark may mean you probably are not generating enough leads - not enough people are hearing about your products or services.

Reach out further, to new markets, new geopgraphics areas, new income classes, and you'll bring in a wider variety of leads. It also will position your company for growth.

Another alternative is to raise your prices. If you're closing too easily, you're probably not seeing the price objection that is normal. If so, increase your prices until you begin to hit the 20 percent ratio.

If you are below that ratio, you could be doing a number of things wrong. First, of course, you could be marketing poorly. More likely, the people you're reaching don't want the servie you're offering, so look for new markets and new income groups.

Besides evaluating your marketing plan, you should look at sales skills. Not hitting the 20 percent ratio is a strong indication that you're not pitching your services in a way that draws in clients.

Consider engaging a sales coach to watch your pitch methods. Even if you're hitting the 20 percent ratio, it's a good idea to have someone evaluate your approach.

Finally, evaluate how your leads are qualified. If your people are chasing down every lead that comes in, you're wasting the sales staff's time. To avoid this, you'll need to analyze which leads will pay off and qualify them before giving them to the sales staff.

And remember that payoff for a lead means not just the first sales but repeat sales and profit for your company.

Let's do a recap:

  • Maintaining a 20 percent close ratio helps ensure that you're balancing price and quality.
  • Tracking the closing ration forces you to evaluate your sales staff's ability, methods and your marketing plan.
  • A high close ration indicates that prices might be too loo and you should consider increasing them.
  • A low ratio indicates poor marketing and/or sales performance.
Bill Bryan is a counselor with the Service Corps of Retired Executives. SCORE offers counseling, workshops and seminars on small business operations. You can reach Bryan through SCORE, 515 N Court St. 815-962-0122, for information and appointments.


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