The way in which an appointment to present an advertising program face-to-face with a prospective clients is set (outbound vs. inbound lead, etc…) will impact your expected closing ratio.
Gazing at your outcomes and hoping they change is not something I usually advocate. I find being engaged in massive action and learning from outcomes by executing a better strategy to produce sales in both the short and long term. That said, understanding reasonable closing ratio expectations and monitoring your closing ratios can help you get the most from your time in the field presenting your advertising programs.
To do this in the most productive and helpful manner, it pays to categorize your face-to-face selling situations and modify your expected closing ratio accordingly. Some situations should be near 100%, for example: meeting a business owner that called in and asked to talk to someone “about setting up ads.”
For example, the sales team for one of the media outlets I operate sets the expected closing ratio of appointments based on the source of the appointment.
For one of the team’s three broad sales appointment types, the expected closing ratio in the meeting is 90% (prospect called, messaged, or emailed an inquiry), the other 50% (replied to appointment setting email or set appointment via outbound call initiated by us), and the third type 25% (appointments set with marketing directors or corporate officers).
In the first type of meeting, where a 90% close ratio is the norm, the prospective client called or emailed us, either by referral, internet search, or in response to a marketing communication (email, flyer, postcard, etc…) we sent them. The responders to marketing communications with coupons approach a 100% closing ratio in a set meeting. After all, my media company in the example sells coupon advertising programs, and a coupon program we set up to market ourselves is the reason the prospect contacted us. The “we’re good enough at coupon marketing ourselves to get a great prospective advertiser like you to ring our phone” sales argument is a strong one.
Digging into the second type of appointment this team routinely goes on, if the only prospects being called or emailed requesting a meeting are true prospects (not some database you bought, but one you made of competitor clients or true best prospects) 100 phone calls usually yields an appointment or 3 and 1,000 emails to prospects nets a few “I can meet with you at…” replies. 7 in ten of those meetings are solid prospects that CAN be closed right then, 2 may have to consult other parties before signing, and 1 may be unqualified for whatever reason. Usually this team sees 5 in ten of appointments set in this manner close on the first meeting, a 50% close ratio. They also see another 20% of the prospects they met with end up becoming a client within the year if they didn’t sign that day.
Corporate decision makers are sometimes able to sign and spend discretionary funds for the size of sale we have (under $10,000 in most cases), some even use their corporate card rather than have us invoice accounting. However, many “corporate type” prospective clients do have to involve other members of their team in ad buys, and thus we typically see a 25% close ratiofrom these type of appointments, with 50% more eventually closing via follow up activities.
Breaking things down by meeting type helps us gauge our performance. I.e. Meeting with 10 call-in prospects who asked to meet with you should produce 8 or 9 contracts while meeting with ten marketing directors who an inside salesperson set meetings with will likely yield 2 or 3 contracts in the meeting with a few more on follow up. Those numbers are constant if the processes we have in place are followed in the sales presentation.
If closing ratios are significantly off the norm in a negative way, it signals part of the sales process may veering off course with that member of the sales team. If they’re off the norm in a positive way…we all start doing what they’re doing.
In an extreme example, if a marketing consultant pitching our ad programs is not presenting a piece of paper to sign with numbers on it (i.e. a proposed ad agreement), filled out, during a meeting (i.e. ASKING FOR THE SALE) with any type of prospect, it will show up in his or her closing ratio. Will knock it to about 1/4 of what those following the process see.
Same goes for other detours off the script…meaningless asides just shooting the breeze can introduce new questions in a prospect…some that could take days to ponder. The script (or video demo) says/shows what to cover pitching our media programs, those who wander off script end up walking out without signed paper in situations that should be “slam dunks.”
If you really believe your ad program will make the client more money than it will cost her, there’s nothing wrong with using “sales tactics” to get the deal done. If your closing ratios are above the norm for any category of appointment, you may be a rockstar and you should share what’s working with your team. If not, the first step to a turn-around is to diagnose your opportunities for improvement by analyzing your closing ratio by appointment type and comparing it with team averages.