Start With The End In Mind

Do you know what your conversion data is and what it means? Most sales people don’t, and it is a shame. Understanding conversion data will help you identify training needs, and set realistic goals with a solid plan for achievement. This knowledge could, if used correctly give you a HUGE boost in income. In this article, I will explain how to use your conversion data to ensure you continue to grow your income year after year.

What conversion data will help you do is go from saying I am trying to close X deals this month and taking a WAG (Wild Ass Guess) to explain how; to using the best information available to estimate a SWAG (Scientific Wild Ass Guess). It’s not a perfect system but it is far better than just tossing out a number and saying “I’ll close 20 deals this quarter” and having no idea how! Before I raise anyone’s hackles this is not a simple increase A input to get B outcome, but that may be part of what’s required! Here is how it works.

First you need to break down your sales process into logical steps. That should look something like this: Lead – Attempts to Contact (ATC) – Contacts – Scheduled – Appointment – Proposal – Contract. Your individual process may have more or less steps, what is important is that you understand your process and are able to measure what goes in the front and what comes out the other end.  

Next, you should record data on each stage for several weeks. In the previous model that data would probably look something like this:

Chart 1 sales data 

So from this model I can immediately extrapolate that 134 leads netted me 18 deals under contract, but what else could we do with it? The next step is to divide each step into the next and see what percentage moves forward in the process. That data should look like this:

Lead to Contact: 59% Contact to Scheduled: 52% Scheduled to Appointment: 90% Appointment to Proposal: 63% Proposal to Contract: 75%

I have purposely left out ATC to contact, but we will cover that in a minute.

Now I will plug this data into my model in Excel. This should only take you a few minutes to build, but if you need help, e-mail me or ask in the comments and I will happily help you out. This is my sample model:

 Sales model projection 1

In my model I assumed YOU control your lead flow, but you could just as easily start yours at contact to scheduled if you do not and the effect would be the same. I also recommend you always round a decimal up to ensure you do not come up short.

Now is the fun part. I built my model to auto calculate so as you change the red or blue numbers everything else changes with it. The weekly need number will also change if you change the 12 by weeks left to some other number to suit your time frame.

This is where the fun starts. I always build two models one with “Real” conversions and the other with my goal conversions. For this fictional sales person I may say what If I could increase my contact to scheduled to 55% and my appointment to proposal to 70%? My new model would look like this:

sales projection #3

We now have a theoretical 20 deals under contract in 12 weeks with no additional lead flow. The difficult part is figuring out HOW to increase those numbers, and that takes time, but at least now you know where to focus your training. The other route to 20 deals would be to some how put more leads in your funnel and that model would look like this:

sales projection Chart 4 

So you can see how you could achieve gains by either increasing your lead flow (assuming quality remains the same) or training to improve your conversion in some specific areas. More likely if I were this person I would work on both a little because more efficiency with more leads = bigger gains!  

I left out the ATC data, because the quality is so hard to measure. Is a call at 2AM as good as one at 9AM? Is the content of every e-mail and letter the same? I look at lead to contact as one big number to work on, but I do like to track my dials to contacts separately just to check for efficiency and test new scripts and e-mail or direct mail campaigns. But again that is another post!

Again, I want to reinforce that just saying if I generate 13 leads a week I will net 20 contracts. You have to take a strategic approach and make sure you actually hit your goal each week on all the other stages and update the model every week or so to ensure you stay on track. The primary function of this tool is to find training opportunities, and set manageable realistic goals with a solid plan to achieve them.

Please feel free to contact me with an e-mail or comment and I will be happy to assist you in building your model and coaching you on its implementation.

-Brad

8 thoughts on “Start With The End In Mind”

  1. I am really not happy with how the data posted here, It is not as readable as the version I did in Word. I will try to work on the display for the tables this week. If I do not get it fixed just ask in a comment or e-mail and I will e-mail the Word file and Excel spreadsheet I used to create this.

  2. Brad, thanks for this; it makes the process quite clear.

    I do have one question that may be of general interest, and it comes from two postings I’ve made: http://www.facilitatedsystems.com/weblog/2006/02/stocks-flows-and-greenlands-glaciers.html and http://www.facilitatedsystems.com/weblog/2005/08/two-types-of-numbers.html

    The question is this: do you intend each of the seven column headings in your spreadsheets to be flows, or are some stocks?

    Put more simply, are each of those new leads, ATCs, contacts, etc. per week, or are some of them stocks of outstanding whatevers?

    I suspect they’re all flows (new leads per week, etc.), but I could imagine you tracking the number of uncontacted leads, the number of outstanding scheduled appointments, and the number of outstanding proposals, for example.

    Thanks,

    Bill

  3. I am letting some of the un-contacted leads flow into the next week, because that is how a real sales person would work them. I also let some fall out because they are un-contactable for any number of reasons. This example was actually loosely modeled off of one of one of the members of my team, so some of the conducted appointments in one week were actually scheduled in the prior week. In the first stage all I am really trying to do is benchmark the “average week” to get some conversion percentages I can use to find training opportunities, and to assist in planning.

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