The sales manager, Bob, said to me in a gleeful voice, full of enthusiasm and hope: “We’re winning one out of every ten of our proposals, and we’re ecstatic.” I didn’t know how I was going to break the news to him that if this was the best they can do with their marketing program, they will never have more than an ‘also-ran’ business that earns a basic living for its founder, but never makes a significant mark in the marketplace.
But I asked him, “Why do you feel this way?”
“First of all it’s predictable. If I win one out of ten, I just have to propose enough business to keep the doors open and make a profit.”
The reasoning was not unsound; the expectation was too low. At this point I could see he really meant that going to bat and hitting one out of ten was a sign of success.
“But what if I tell you,” I said, “that good companies win 3, and great companies win 4-6 out of every 10 proposals. How would you feel?”
“Kind of crappy,” was his unvarnished response. “Tell me why I should expect more and how I can get there.”
This conversation took us down the road that explained average buying ratio of raw leads (45% were buyers), qualified leads (20-40% higher), and then proposals (30-59%). This was why he should expect more.
How to get there was more complicated. It had to do with customers’ expectations for proposal delivery, namely: immediate versus a 3-5 day delay, in-person versus over-the-phone and web, and quantity of sales leads coming in to support the back-end requirements.
To start, Bob had to project the number of sales and dollars that would result from the leads he gets. I told him there is a formula:
This number becomes the Baseline of Expectations. From this I explained that he can tackle:
Increasing the follow-up percentage by the salespeople and marketing
Increasing the market share percentage expectations by reviewing:
Speed of response to inquiries (Bob’s people or hired specialists)
Delivering the right information required as soon as possible (answering questions and quotes on the first call or at least same day)
Improving presentation skills (not the same as sales training)
Using the complete CRM/marketing automation tool set
My advice to Bob was short and full of hope: Improve your expectations; decide where you fall short; and improve your closing ratio. Repeat.
Today's blog was submitted by James Obermayer, Executive Director and CEO of the Sales Lead Management Association and President of Sales Leakage Consulting. James is a regular guest blogger with ViewPoint.