Is Sales Really a Numbers Game?

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“Until your business is turning over £1m your priorities should be sales” – Verne Harnish (Author of Mastering the Rockerfeller Habits).

The term sales is a numbers game (used by many of my favourite sales guru’s) has been vexing me lately.  I do agree that it is a game and that numbers are involved but something is wrong with it.

There are two numbers of interest to the serious student of sales; the number of propsects (leads generated) and the number who buy (the conversion ratio).  If I have ten prospects and one of them buys from me then statistically another ten prospects will deliver me another sale.  It’s not rocket science is it?  The understanding of these numbers in your business is important to work out if you have a viable company, so start measuring them now and over a period of time your average will emerge.

If you’re new to sales, your market or your product the chances are you won’t be very good at converting to start with so if you want to hit target you will need to work more numbers to be as good as the best.  So work out wherever you are now and at least you can start moving forward.

By investing some time (perhaps you could skip the X Factor and use the time to increase your own fortune instead of Simon Cowell’s) studying selling and talking to other more successful sales people you can begin to influence the average.  Perhaps you can read a few books, go to a seminar, have some coaching and apply some new approaches and then watch your conversion ratio climb.

As for the game; selling is all about having a relationship with potential buyers. It’s no different to any other type of relationship building in which you develop trust, establish need, work out how you can help and then ask them to take the next step (remember dating???).

We have been doing this stuff since we were in nursery school and it’s always been natural and a game in everything except business.  So if you took that childhood innocence and curiousity into a sales situation it would be much more fun than going in feeling all the pressure of having to make a sale.

I went to see a perfume manufacturer and completely blew it from the start.  I was so focussed on finding an angle on how I could help that I ended up arguing with him.  Having destroyed the sale I gave up and stared around his office and it occurred to me that I didnt know how perfume was made, so I asked him.  His face lit up and for the next half hour he showed me around the lab and explained the process.  I left his factory with two bottles of perfume, a slice of cherry pie that his wife brought in for the team and with a new friend.

So it feels to me like sales is a relationship game rather than a numbers game. In fact here is my replacement saying:

“Sales is a game where you try to make friends with as many people as possible and some buy stuff from you”

Feels much better :-)