The Sales Consultancy Blog
Decreasing Marketing; Increasing Sales
4 November 2011
Most companies I help receive incoming enquiries - via the telephone line, emails, exhibitions, the list goes on.
None of these companies convert 100% of those enquiries into a sale. Of course, 100% conversion is pushing it a bit! However – there’s no doubt that all of these companies had potential to increase their conversion rate, in many cases by a considerable amount.
A company in particular comes to mind. They took enquiries mainly by phone and converted 25% of these enquiries into an individual average order value of £997 – we’ll round this up to £1000 for ease of telling the story.
Sales in volume were slightly over 10,000 a year so we’re talking about a £10m company here.
Having been called in to help, my first thoughts were what a crying shame that a massive 75% of sales enquiries were coming to nothing. Even sadder was that many of the 75% non-buyers were deemed ‘time wasters’ by the staff. I cringe at those words – in my book there’s no such thing as a time waster in sales and terming them as such reflects more on the seller than the potential buyer.
Within six weeks we’d got the conversion rate up to 27%. Now you might think that’s not much of an increase – and you’d be right. BUT – just this 2% increase in conversion rates equated to an annual increase in turnover of £800,000. Needless to say the training was deemed a big success.
The moral of the story? Don’t spend massive amounts of money on marketing when all you have to do is make better use of the leads that you’re already getting - sales success will follow.
How to increase conversion rates?
Here are a few pointers.
1. Ban the use of the words ‘time wasters’! I’m serious. Using this word in a sales environment engenders an underlying unconscious disrespect for potential buyers. I firmly believe that no one has got time these days to be a time waster – there must have been SOME level of interest for them to pick up the phone – check out a website etc.
2. Get technology in that can track enquiries and respond to them. This could be web analytics, a more sophisticated CRM, whatever it takes to know exactly who’s showing an interest – and which enables you to have a low cost follow up.
3. Connect! Yes I know some of this is very basic but…! It works. We found out at the company in question that their company was on average one of three that the potential customer contacted before making a decision. There were about 5 major players in their market at the time – and not much to choose between them in terms of product and price. So who do you think was going to get the business? YES – the one to whom the prospect felt most connected.
4. Connection is made through general rapport building and lots of curiosity – in sales terms known as good old fashioned open questions.
5. Structure. I’ll never be an advocate of scripts on telephone calls – I hate them – but a little structure can help considerably. So make sure you give the staff the guidance they need to succeed on the call.
6. Follow up when you’ve quoted. I can’t believe how many companies quote for business and then never follow up with at least a courtesy phone call. This is not hounding people – as a certain company’s ‘sales’ staff once suggested. This is called customer service, which, if we’re lucky, might catch on! If you don’t fancy following up quotes, you might want to consider an alternative career. Referring to suggestion 3, if you’re one of three companies that have quoted for a sale and you’re the only one that follows up, doesn’t that indicate a level of interest on your part that others haven’t matched?
There are of course another hundred+ tips on increasing sales and following up enquiries – but if you do these and do them well enough, your selling skills and your sales conversions will increase.
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