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Why Getting More Persuasive isn’t the Answer to Your Sales Problem

Many people dislike sales because they perceive it as being pushy. Yet when you break down the process, the most common reasons that you’re not getting the results you need usually have very little to do with persuading someone to buy your product or service. More often, it’s about refining your sales process.

Gary Indiana was a new advisor who I trained at the start of my career. Gary was kind of a big guy; he looked a little bit like Mr. Clean. He wasn’t the sharpest dresser, although he never looked unprofessional. And he was a bit socially awkward, to the point that other new advisors would comment, “Oh, I just don’t see how Gary’s going to make it. He just doesn’t have the right personality to be an advisor.” Which makes Gary’s sales success the perfect example of when you focus on the right things, sales become easier.

When I was Gary’s trainer, I asked for five pieces of data every single week. They were:

  • Leads: How many leads do you have to contact?
  • Talk Tos: Of those leads, how many did you actually reach?
  • Schedule: Of those you spoke to, how many did you schedule for a meeting?
  • Hold: How many meetings did you hold this week?
  • Sales: How many meetings converted to clients?

From this data, I would create ratios. I would manage the ratios as averages of 12 weeks of data, because not every action would occur every week—for example, one week you might schedule 6 meetings but not hold any. You need a larger pool of data to get accurate ratios.

Gary’s Starting Ratios

Here’s where Gary was with his ratios after a few months:

  • Talk To Ratio – 25%. If Gary had 150 leads, he typically managed to talk to 37 of those leads.
  • Schedule Ratio – 40%. When Gary talked to 37 people, he usually scheduled 15 of those people for meetings.
  • Hold Ratio – 20%. When Gary scheduled 15 meetings, 3 of those meetings would show (the rest were no-shows, cancellations or reschedules).
  • Sales Ratio – 33%. Of the meetings Gary held, he managed to convert one in three to a client.

Notice that none of these ratios are over 50%; as a beginning advisor, Gary wasn’t necessarily super effective in any area — but that’s okay.

We decided to focus on the Hold ratio first. That was Gary’s lowest ratio (20%). We reviewed his process in that area, and we discovered that he was 1) not sending any initial confirmation correspondence when he scheduled the appointment; and 2) he wasn’t calling a few days prior to the appointment to confirm the meeting (even though we encouraged both of the practices in training). The reason these tasks had dropped off Gary’s radar was simply because he was overwhelmed with the workload.

So very simply, we just had somebody else in the office take over Gary’s confirmation process. After every meeting scheduled, he wrote the meeting date and time on the lead sheet and handed it off to one of our office support people. Those two very simple tasks increase his hold ratio to 50 percent within a month.

Just by increasing his appointment hold effectiveness—and not fixing anything else—Gary went from seeing 3 people per week to 7.5 (although obviously you can’t see half a person). By still converting at 33%, he was now converting 2-3 people per week.

And guess what? By seeing more people each week, his sales skills automatically got better. Gary got really excited about these results; because the shift went from thinking he had to “get more salesy,” to achieving a more effective process overall.

Ratios for online businesses

Online businesses might have different goals than simply one-to-one sales, but the ratios can still help if you just think about them a little differently:

Leads = Traffic: How many people are coming to your site, essentially expressing interest in your product or service?

Talk Tos = Email Opt-ins: Of that traffic, how many provided an email address?

Schedule = Clicks This is where the deviation between online sales and one-to-one sales really starts; if you’re hoping to get one client, then you would still want to schedule them for a consult. If you’re hoping to get people to engage in an online product or service you would need to set up a way to track their interest and clicks to your sales page (perhaps from an email you send).

Hold = Time Spent Again, a hold ratio is important for one-to-one sales; in the online product/service world, you would want to look at your Google Analytics and see how long people are spending on your sales page and what the bounce rate is.

Sales = Sales: Regardless of the type of product, sales are sales! If you can see the traffic on your sales page and know how many products/packages you sold, then you will be able to track your ratio—keeping in mind most online ratios are much smaller than one-to-one sales ratios. You can set up a conversion goal in Google Analytics if you don’t want to track it manually.

The most common sales mistakes

For advisor Gary, we focused on process organization to improve conversion effectiveness. For most online businesses I coach around sales, the most common reasons businesses don’t convert more sales are:

  • Not enough leads – bottom line, you need to constantly be adding leads to your prospect bucket.
  • Personalization – even when you sell a product online, customers don’t want to feel anonymous. How can you refine your process to make them feel more seen?
  • Selling too early – too often, in one-to-one sales, greener sales people forget to allow the prospect to explain in their own words what they need before offering them a solution.
  • Unclear offer – with online businesses, sometimes the lack of clarity over their primary offer makes the sales process convoluted. If you could just sell one thing, what would that be?
  • Forgetting to follow up – most people’s sales conversion ratio will go up 10-20% just by checking back with prospects who they have already spoken to or emailed.

Collecting your own data is a relatively simple process. Once you have a valid sampling, it becomes relatively easy to identify process improvement and direct a budget toward improving your sales effectiveness at each point of the conversion funnel.

About Mindy

Having the diverse combination of finance and coaching experience (along with an actual sense of humor that didn’t require any particular certification), Mindy helps both you AND your money succeed. From growing your wealth to the actual person behind it, Mindy bridges the gap between the energetic, spiritual and practical financial services industry with a creative twist. If you want to feel more confident about your finances (without relying on a spreadsheet!) check out Mindy’s excellent (and FREE) Profit Clarity Blueprint.

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