“Check… Check 1…. Check 1… Check 2…”
Have you ever been at a venue when the roadies are setting up the sound equipment? They meticulously move from one microphone or instrument to the next, checking the sound, the levels, and making adjustments before they move on to the next.
Imagine if they skipped this step. Imagine if the band got up on stage and started to play — but the lead singer’s mic wasn’t working and the drums were so loud they drowned everything else.
Would you blame the band’s performance, or the systems surrounding them for the crappy concert?
Many times I see small business owners doing just that: they don’t check their systems around their sales processes, they just expect to bring down the house when they get on “stage” to sell.
And if they don’t make the sale, they blame their performance.
But in my experience, that’s rarely the reason people aren’t making as many sales as they’d like.
The most common reasons people aren’t getting the results they need are usually not about the performance, but about refining and tuning their sales system.
Gary’s sales system success story
Gary Indiana (name changed to protect the innocent) was a new financial advisor I trained at the beginning of my career. Gary was kind of a big guy; he looked a little like Mr. Clean. He wasn’t the sharpest dresser, although he never looked unprofessional.
But Gary’s success didn’t depend on his looks, his outfit, or even his social skills. It was all about honing his system for success.
As Gary’s trainer, I knew I didn’t need to focus on what brand of suit he was wearing. Instead, 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 based 12 weeks of numbers to get the most accurate picture.
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 is over 50%; as a beginning advisor, Gary wasn’t necessarily super effective in any area — but that’s okay. Even his percentages weren’t that vital to his success in the beginning.
We decided to focus on the Hold ratio first, because it was the lowest ratio with the most room for improvement (20%). We reviewed his system in that area, and we discovered that:
- Gary wasn’t sending any correspondence to confirm the appointment right after he booked it and
- He wasn’t calling a few days prior to the appointment to confirm the meeting.
The reason these tasks had dropped off Gary’s radar was simply because he was overwhelmed with the workload.
So, 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.
(Even if you don’t have office support people, you can automate tasks like this or hire a VA for a few hours a week.)
Those two very simple tasks increase his hold ratio to 50 percent within a month.
Just by increasing his appointment hold ratio—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.
Successful Sales Systems for online businesses
Online businesses have slightly different goals and systems than traditional 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? This is the raw number of how many eyeballs are seeing your website.
- Talk Tos = Email Opt-ins: Of that traffic, how many opt-in with 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). All email newsletter providers will track your click-through-rate for you.
- 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. This might also be part of your email nurture sequence. How often do they hear from you after they sign up?
- 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. Remember: your online conversion rate isn’t going to be anywhere near 50% unless you’re selling free gold. Typical online conversion rates for a sales page are closer to 1%–5%.
Check 1? Where is your sales system weakest?
For most online businesses I coach, the most common reasons they don’t convert more sales are:
- Not enough leads – bottom line, you need to constantly be adding leads to your prospect bucket. But where’s the leak? Are you getting traffic but they’re not opting-in? That could be a problem with your opt-in offer. Do people sign up when they hit your page, but there just aren’t enough of them? That problem requires promotional tactics to generate more traffic.
- 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 salespeople forget to allow the prospect to explain in their own words what they need before offering them a solution. The same can be said online. Instead of asking for the sale right away, try using emails to nurture the lead and help them get to know you.
- 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? How can you make your offer crystal clear on your website?
- Forgetting to follow up – Most people’s sales conversion ratio will go up by 10 or 20% just by checking back with prospects with whom they have already spoken or emailed. Block off an hour a week just to send a few emails and check in with potential customers, and build a follow-up sequence into your email autoresponder.
The easiest way to start selling more in your business is to identify your weakest link and strengthen it. To do that, you’re going to need some numbers.
Collecting your own data is a pretty easy process. I would start by tracking:
- your traffic
- opt-in conversion rate (# of opt-ins divided by total traffic)
- clicks inside your sales emails and sales pages
- and overall conversion rate (sales divided by total traffic)
Once you have some numbers to play with, you can identify your weakest link and then brainstorm ways to improve it.
(And I bet you a dollar it isn’t your performance.)
Remember: Sales isn’t necessarily about how you or your business look or act — it’s about refining the steps in your system so that they are as efficient and effective as they can be.
Does this sort of analysis resonate with you? Do you want MORE simple insights with non-intimidating numbers to see how to improve your business? Then you need to hop on over to Sales Boss, my new program to help small business owners take control of their sales process. It’s starting at the end of the week!
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