If you want to get CEO’s talking, one of the hot topics is what I have referred to earlier is the “Great Disconnect” as it relates to sales execution. Some common burning problems that CEO’s often share with me on their drive home at night are about their frustration with regards to sales performance…
How can I get my sales team to operate like my plant?… more manageable, more predictable?
How can I tell quickly and early enough that my salespeople will or won’t hit their sales goals each month?
How can we drive the variability of sales forecasting out of our current sales forecasting process?
How can we get a greater return on marketing dollars invested?
The question I use that often makes the phone call grow quiet with that all too familiar pregnant pause is: What is your team’s “lead to close percentage”? Your lead to close percentage is the canary in your coal mine of sales and acts as an early predictor of future sales performance. When you ask salespeople how to grow their sales they will say; I need more leads. The reality is you do not need more leads you need to improve your lead to close percentage on all the leads you already have.
My grandfather grew up in West Virginia and his father like many men back then was a coal miner in addition to having the family farm. My grandfather used to share with me how miners would bring canaries down into the coal mines as they were a quick early warning sign that there were toxic unhealthy gases seeping into the mine and they needed to leave the mine quickly. Canaries are particularly susceptible to toxic gases like carbon monoxide and methane found in the stale air of mines back then. The life of a canary in a coal mine was often short but meaningful. Your lead to close percentage indicator is the canary in your sales mine.
So what is the “canary in your coal mine of sales”?
Your “lead to close percentage” is one of the best indicators of future sales performance.
57% of companies in a study indicated converting qualified leads into paying customers as their top funnel priority (Marketing Sherpa)
50% of leads qualified but not yet ready to buy (Hubspot)
Do you know your “lead to close percentage” for your sales team? …for each salesperson?
It is difficult to manage, fine tune, and improve something until you make it a Key Performance Indicator that you track. Once you start tracking your lead to close percentage for your team and each salesperson you will quickly be on a path to taking the frustrating variability out of your sales forecasting process.
In my next post I will share specific ways to improve your lead to close % one you have agreed to make it a key performance indicator your sales team will track and report on.