I surely hear a lot of talk these days about success in setting new-business appointments. Sales managers often say with a degree of pride, “Our team set 28 appointments last week.” Or, “We had a very good appointment-setting session and got 31 new appointments in only two hours.”
These numbers are impressive, and the logical sequence of events from there would be a steady increase in new business volume. But, too often, when those new business metrics come in, the cause and effect doesn’t exist. New business does not spike as one would expect after four straight weeks of appointment setting.
So, what is wrong?
The all-too-common trend above is an indication that something is falling apart in the early steps of the sales process. Savvy sales managers need to know what that is. Here are three metrics you should be tracking to see how well your sales team is converting appointments to sales:
- How many of the appointments set actually happened? When you peel back the layers, you see that an alarmingly high percentage of appointments accepted never happen. Why not? Well, maybe the sales team is not reporting as candidly as they should be. Perhaps some of those “appointments” were not as concrete as they thought. Or, the Valid Business Reason for the appointment was not as compelling to the prospect as it should have been, so the prospect canceled the meeting as soon as something else reasonably important came up.
- Of the appointments completed, from how many of those prospects do we have an assignment? Prospects only buy when there is a problem to be solved or an opportunity not yet realized. Was your salesperson successful in sharing an insight about that prospect’s business that led to conversation about problems and opportunities? Did they ask for an assignment from that prospect for which they could develop a tailored solution? Or, did they just share some insights, ask a few questions, and leave without an assignment? You need to know. The number of assignments from prospects is one of the best indicators of future business.
- For those prospects that did give us an assignment, have we built a tailored plan? Or, did your salesperson or support people just go to the shared drive and vomit out a large number of graphically-rich, but generic slides? That will result in a “no-answer” for sure. The proposal falls into a black hole and the opportunity fades away. If your salesperson had an assignment for which the prospect is anxious for a solution, AND a real solution rather than a product pitch, new business would be up for sure.
Try monitoring these three important metrics for even a month. It will be instructive, and you will learn a lot about how efficient your sales team actually is in converting appointments to sales (and where they need help).