Do you think sales is a numbers game? Like your boss told you? And their boss before them?
Are you about to lose your numbers game?
Let me tell you something, more often than you think, this thought is followed by a struggled 6-12 months followed by disappointment or failure. If it’s a numbers game, it could be a game you’re about to lose.
At this point, many people disagree. So quickly get that out of your system, swear, shake your fist, spit, do what you’ve got to do, and then consider why I’m saying this…
Don’t fix your future frustration
Of course, numbers are tied to sales like anything else. You can analyse the numbers. And I think you should. You can calculate conversion rates. You can use them to help predict future sales too. And yes, based on those numbers, you could decide that by ramping up the activity, the numbers should scale. But you could still be about to lose your ‘numbers game’ in an exhausting and frustrating way.
My concern with this common un-useful or high-cost thinking is that it puts all focus on simply ramping up the existing activity and approach. It assumes, in fact, it encourages everything to stay the same (aside from the demand it creates for more hard work).
It completely overlooks the question of quality of your approach.
Got a flawed or ineffective approach?
You’re about to scale those flaws up.
Banging your head against the wall a bit too often?
You’re about to bang your head against the wall a whole lot more. Hope you enjoy it.
How many people might say yes to you if you asked 100 of them out on a date? (Not at the same time, calm down. You’re not Russell Brand.)
How equipped are you to ask the one person out on a date who really matters, and get a yes?
How much mud can you throw at the wall expecting some to stick before you’re slipping up and then drowning in the mud that you threw?
I’ve met plenty of sales people who are sick of slipping up in their own mud. Exhausted and frustrated, and yet still being told to work harder and ramp up the activity. Then, one way or another, they leave the company. And the business has to dig deep to cover the next recruitment costs.
Improving sales effectiveness and efficiency
I totally get that if you (metaphorically speaking) knock on 10 doors and make one sale, then if you knock on 100 doors, you’d probably make 10 sales.
But what if you could make 20 sales, by knocking on 50 doors? Ever asked yourself how you might do that? Ever had that discussion with your peers? The person round the corner who’s not seeing it as a ‘numbers game’ is continuously doing that.
This person sees it as a ‘numbers-improvement game’.
They don’t look at the numbers purely to scale up the activity and results.
They look at the numbers to consider how to improve quality and conversions. They don’t ask, “how can I knock on 100 doors?” they ask:
“How can I knock on fewer doors, and make more sales?”
“How else could I improve conversions besides knocking on doors?”
“How can I get this right more often rather than wrong more often? What do my colleagues think?”
“What conditions or circumstances does this usually work under? How can we purposefully find or create those conditions?”
Meanwhile, the ‘numbers game’ fan just keeps knocking. With sore knuckles.
And things change around us too. Your industry, the market, your buyers all change as time moves on. Nothing stays still.
Grow the improvement muscle
The ‘numbers-improvement game’ fan keeps pumping the muscle to improve and be able to adapt to that change. They keep looking for a better way.
Whilst the ‘numbers game’ fan assumes that what worked yesterday will work today and tomorrow. Until they find out that one day it doesn’t.
Shorten your sales cycle
And don’t get me started on how long your typical sales cycle takes…(oh I see you have).
If you think it typically takes ‘x months’, guess what? It’ll always take ‘x months’. Because you’ll act accordingly. Not too much hard work, just enough to make it ‘x months’. And certainly you’re unlikely to try to spot improvements to your approach. Because it takes ‘x months’. Because you fixed it that way. Because you seem to like certainty.
I used to tell people it took me 6 months typically to sell to a large corporate. Until one day I realised I was making it take 6 months by telling clients not to rush their decision, or following up with them too casually. I wonder which sales I lost doing it that way because they didn’t think I was responsive or proactive enough?
So I asked how I could make it take 2 months, and planned a whole new approach, based around finding clients in the ‘buying window’ (ready waving their money to solve their problem now). And I learned how to ask questions that help them think it through efficiently to a decision.
It’s it’s not a number game. It’s a numbers-improvement game. Make sure you’re playing the right game (that you can win).
Learn to play the ‘numbers-improvement’ game
And if you want to learn how to play the ‘numbers-improvement’ game, contact me.
P.S. Of course, the next step up is to shift your focus from a ‘numbers-improvement game’ to ‘improve-your-client’s-numbers game’. Do that and everything changes.