An old performance management tenant states, “When performance gets measured, performance improves.” The truth of this statement is revealed over and over. We see time and time again in the sports world how records continue to be broken. The reason for keeping records is so comparisons can be made to top performance. The same holds true winning the sales game.
Your Measurement System
The first step in setting up your measurement system is to determine what is important for you to measure. What sort of activities should you be measuring? The answer is every significant sales activity. For example, if you make cold calls to generate prospects, then you would want to track at a minimum the number of phone calls made, number of times contact was made, and number of appointments generated.
Once you have determined the activities to measure, make a simple form for you to track the activity. You can use an electronic spreadsheet or simply make tic marks manually. Don’t get hung up on what type of method to use, just use a method that works for you. Keep it simple and easy to use.
How To Measure Activity
After you have determined the activities you are going to measure, then you can assign a point value to each activity. Next, determine the number of points you want to achieve each day. Measure your performance daily and weekly to your goal. Remember the purpose of keeping the measurement is to improve performance. Reviewing your activity helps you analyze are you doing the right things and are you doing things right. If you are not doing the right activities to be successful, you can analyze your time management, attitude, etc. If you are doing the activities but not getting the results, you can analyze your methods, seek training, etc.
Therefore, in order to win the sales game measures performance and analyzes the results. Always seek to improve performance.
You may have heard, or even said it yourself that selling is a numbers game. But is this a true statement or not? I say yes and no. Yes, numbers matter, but skill matter most. The sales game is a skills game. The more skills you have the more success you have.
How did this notion of sales being a numbers game come about in the first place? If you do anything over a period of time a ratio will appear. If you ball up a piece of paper and throw it at the trash can across the room often enough you will develop a ratio. For example, every 10 times you throw a piece of paper, you could have 8 go in the trash can (pretty good percentage). So now you can go out and tell everyone in order for you to make 8 shots you have to take 10. What has happened in sales is someone figured out their calls to sales ratio and said it takes “x” number of calls for me to make a sale. So my close ratio is y. To some degree this makes sense and certainly is logical.
But what if the close ratio could be improved if the skill level was improved? Well, you might say our top sales person has this ratio. I can understand your rational, but what if your top sales person was just average? What I’m pointing out here is the numbers which represents activity is something to look at and consider, but the most important thing to look at is how effective are you on each sales opportunity.
So, while sales numbers are important, don’t overlook how effective you are being in your sales activity. Seek to improve your skills. Get sales training to improve your sales techniques. Don’t confuse activity with accomplishment. After all, you don’t get paid for making sales calls; you get paid for making sales.
The rate of success for making contact in cold calling is somewhere between 2 and 5 percent. The gatekeeper or voice mail often blocks the salesperson from making contact and moving the sales process forward. This means that the salesperson has to make a lot of cold calls to generate enough sales opportunities to be successful. So how can the salesperson lessen the impact of these barriers to success?
The Pre-Approach Letter
Using pre-approach letters is an effective way to “warm-up” a cold call. After all, the purpose of the cold call is usually to set up an appointment to meet. Using the pre-approach letter helps you get pass the gatekeeper and increase callbacks from voice mail. A pre-approach letter is correspondence or letter sent to a potential prospect before you attempt to make telephone contact. The letter should give information about what you do, what problems you solve, and build enough curiosity to make the prospect want to talk with you. Don’t make the letter too company centered or “me” focused. Focus on the problems you solve and how you go about creating better situations for your clients and customers. Always make your pre-approach letters specific to your prospect’s industry. So if your prospect is a manufacturer make the letter specific to manufacturing. You can have several pre-approach letters for each of the industries you work in. Most importantly, the letter should state specifically the date and time when you will be contacting the potential prospect. This means you have to plan your pre-approach letters with your call back schedule.
Now that you have sent the pre-approach letter with the specific call back time, you are ready to make your “warm” call at the appointed time. A common question the gatekeeper will ask is: “What is this in reference to?” You can then confidently answer: “I have a commitment to call Mr. / Ms.______ can you put me through?” If you receive voice mail you can leave an effective message such as: “My name is ________ with __________ and my number is _________ (slowly). I am calling as I promised in my brief note to you the other day. In working with companies like yours we have helped them (do, save, implement, improve, etc.). Give me a call at __________ (slowly). I have something very important to tell you about how we have discovered a proven way that can help you (do, save, implement, improve, etc). Call me back when you get this message and we can set a time discuss it” You want to leave a short message that creates curiosity and a sense of urgency. It’s curiosity that gets a potential prospect to call you back. Your voice mail message must show the uniqueness of what you can do for your prospect. Consider your prospect gets many voice mails each day from salespeople wanting a call back. You have to differentiate yourself from all the others so they will call you back. Also, be persistent. If you don’t’ get a call back in a couple of days call back and leave a similar message. Of course you can repeat the process over again of sending another pre-approach letter.
Try using pre-approach letters to “warm-up” your cold calls