Last week, I met with a sales manager for a medium-sized company. As we began talking about his business and the challenges he faces every day, he let me know that one of his pain points involved the quality of the leads that his sales team receives.
His statement came after I asked him about the number of impressions/touches it takes for his company to convert someone from a lead into a customer, one that actually buys something. The conversation went like this.
Me – How do you obtain leads?
Him – We do about 20 tradeshows per year and gather our leads during those shows.
Me – How do you convert those leads into sales?
Him – In our follow-up calls, if we can’t sell them or at least get a strong indication that they are interested, we typically move on to the next lead.
Me – And how much is your average sale?
Him – Around $3k
Me – So what is your sales conversion rate?
Him – “Our what?”
Sadly, he is not alone. Many sales managers have the same struggles.
Old school marketing (20-30 years ago) used to separate prospects into two different categories, consumer (buying for themselves) or business (buying as part of their job function). The reality of today is that they are one of the same. Business prospects may be representing a business, but they too are consumers and are using their personal buying experiences as part of their business buying process.
Consider this. The average consumer is subjected to over Six Thousand (6000) marketing messages a day. We are just plain overloaded with content! In addition, many businesses targeting consumers have used unethical marketing practices which have consumers being cautious when making significant purchase decisions without first getting comfortable with the company and the product they are buying. They use the internet to research companies and products, reading reviews and testimonials from others in order to help them get comfortable with each step in the buying process. These habits are now transferring into their job functions because they are spending someone else’s money and if they mess up, their job could be on the line.
Studies have shown, it now takes 12-15 positive impressions before a buyer will feel comfortable beginning a new relationship with your business. As a comparison, just 15 years ago, it was 5-7 touches!
In the case I referenced above, they wasting a lot of money by giving up on prospects before they have even gotten started. If you add up the hours of manpower, travel expenses and the money spent to participate in the 20+ tradeshows, I would venture to say that it is quite substantial.
Creating 12-15 positive impressions with a buyer is not easy. It takes effort and planning. One must be prepared to use integrated marketing in order to connect with their prospects in a variety of ways, thus strengthening their relationship and increasing their sales conversion rates.
The sales process is not a race, it is a journey. It takes time. It takes effort. It takes a plan.
Chris Morrissey is the Owner of Proforma Big Dog Branding, an award winning provider of printing services, promotional products, multimedia production and ecommerce solutions. To reach Chris: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.bigdogbranding.com/.