Back when I was a sales pup, we reps and our managers used an equation to set expectations for performance (now known as “metrics”). The equation started at the top of the proverbial funnel with calling, flowed through several points—response, appointments, qualifying and closing—down to the small end of the funnel and new business. We used the same equation in reverse to set dials goals based on desired units of new business.
That equation is what gave us the expression sales is “a numbers game.” As I taught years ago, the underlying point was not that all we need do is make a bunch of calls and something good would come of it. The key point was we could use numbers (the equation) to guide prospecting efforts.
Alas, data needed to fully feed the equation has not been gathered for many years now. We have good data for response rates for most marketing tools. However, companies no longer track each point past that, probably because it’s too hard or perhaps impossible. Years ago we used calls and traditional mail, now there’s also social media and email and multiple forms of web-based marketing…how do we parse and track one from the next?
Holding on Too Long
Even as the validity of the funnel faded away, I covered the equation in training and in the “root canal” book. I’d provide the equation, explain the above, add a ton of cautions about using it, and hope for the best. As I worked on the book’s current edition, it finally hit me: there’s simply no way to cover the full equation without also misleading people.
Without good data to feed the equation at each and every point, using the full equation becomes a fancy WAG. I’m embarrassed it took me so long to accept that.
The Good News
We’ve got solid data at the top of the funnel for many marketing tools. For calling, we know the response rate is between 25% and 33% — you can use this to guide your expectations.
Reviving the Numbers
You can also bring the funnel back to life by tracking the key data-points per marketing tool. For example, the data-points for calling are: dials, response, agree to sales conversation, there’s a good fit and you ask for the business (qualifying), new business. (For email: send email, response, agree to sales conversation, etc.)
Gather enough data for the marketing tools you use, and you’ll have the same sound guidelines we used to rely upon. You know…back when women were expected to wear skirts and we only had two or three marketing tools.
By the Book
The preceding is an excerpt from the 3rd edition of I’d Rather Have a Root Canal Than do Cold Calling! Available in print, and for download onto your favorite ereading device.