Most of us hate paperwork in any form. We want to be out there selling, or else enjoying ourselves. Sitting at a desk is boring, hard work. So why do most top sales performers spend the time to keep meticulous records? They do it because managing a portfolio of prospects and current customers calls for a lot of planning. And this detailed planning makes everything else they do more efficient and effective.
Most people who are failing to hit their goals in sales do not know why, but most highly successful salespeople can tell you in an instant what they do exceptionally well.
This knowledge comes from keeping and analyzing good sales records. In my experience, I have found most salespeople do not like to keep records and most do not keep adequate personal sales records.
Do you keep sales records on a regular basis or only when you begin to feel yourself sliding? Keeping good records will not make you successful, but those records can be of great help in guiding you in the right direction.
Why Keep Records?
If you can quickly answer the following questions, I’ll bet you are consistently keeping, analyzing and learning from your records. If you cannot, I urge you to carefully read this article and implement its suggestions. Write down your answers to the following questions:
- What is your average sales volume?
- What is your average commission per sale?
- What is your average number of sales per month, per week and per day?
- How many closing presentations do you give per week?
- What is the average number of new prospects you generate per week?
- What percentage of your business comes from referrals. What percentage comes from advertising? What percentage comes from cold calling?
- How many new prospects do you need per week to keep your qualified-prospect pipeline full?
- What is your closing ratio? What is the ratio of the number of sales you make to the number of presentations you complete?
- What is your interview termination percentage?
- What is your average sales presentation worth in both volume and commission? What is each contact worth? Each telephone call? Each new referral? Each appointment? (To determine these ratios, divide the number of telephone calls by your total monthly sales or income and repeat the process for each example.)
- How many telephone calls do you make before you get one appointment, one closing presentation or one sale?
- What is your ratio of new prospects to sales?
- What percentage of your business is from existing customers? What percentage is from new customers?
- What is your per customer renewal, upgrade and cancellation rate?
- How many referrals do you get from your average customer?
After completing these 15 questions, you are probably either encouraged by what you learned or disgusted. Keeping good records can steer you in the right direction and can help you avoid the dead ends, frustrations and anxiety of sales slumps.
A sales slump is when you are temporarily motivated by method rather than results. One of the best ways to avoid a sales slump is with a daily, weekly or monthly goal program. To improve your sales results, you should set activity goals rather than productivity goals.
When you set activity goals, it is much easier to track both activity and productivity results. You can also more effectively determine the areas where improvement needs to take place. Many times, this will give you the motivation to go on.
Most of us have a tendency to relax after a successful day, sale or month. Let’s face it, you deserve a break. You stop for a moment to bask in your well-deserved success. However, this fleeting moment can become a longer period of time and can ultimately slow your momentum. One way to avoid these highs and lows is to graph your activity and results by day, week, month and year.
Comparing your relative successes and failures in this way graphically demonstrates the trend or direction of your ability in a certain area. For example, let’s imagine that during the month of January you averaged 50 telephone calls per week, 20 appointments per week and three sales. This resulted in a total volume of $10,000 and an income of $1,000. Your income goal is $2,000 per month. You have several choices to make if you wish to meet your goal:
- Increase your number of presentations by 100 percent. (This could only come from better telephone results. You need to increase your ratio from 20/50 to 40/50.)
- Improve your closing skills to improve your closing ratio from 3/20 to 6/20.
- Improve your prospecting so that you only give your presentations to better qualified prospects. (10 presentations/three sales or 20 presentations/six sales.)
- Sell more per customer by increasing the average size of your order. Instead of three sales at $25,000, make one or two sales and $100,000.
The chart below gives you an example of how one salesperson’s chart might look:
Pretend this is your chart. Let’s carefully analyze these numbers and ratios from this sample chart. We’ll examine what they mean and how they can help you:
- Why did the number of telephone calls decrease per month from January through May? Time off? Call reluctance? Fewer prospects to call? Poor time management?
- Why did the telephone to appointment percentage change between January and February? Better telephone techniques? Better prospects?
- Why did the telephone call to appointments drop to only 1 in 5 in May? Poor telephone closing? Poor prospects?
- Why did sales increase by 100 percent from January to February with the same number of appointments (lines 2 and 8)? Better prospects? Improved sales presentation? Better closing techniques?
- Why did the average volume per sale increase with fewer appointments in April? Why did it decrease in May?
- Why did the closing ratio improve between January and May?
- If you wanted to increase your income, where would improvement be most rewarding? Per sale volume? Closing ratio? Ratio of telephone calls to appointments? Fewer appointments but better prospects?
- Do you notice any potential trouble spots to be aware of?
- Do you see any significant danger signals?
- Where did you improve the most during this period?
All of this information can enhance your selling ability, use of time, self-improvement, income, personal satisfaction and self-esteem. It is important to know where you are strong and realize that you are consistently improving. We all need to realize that we are growing positively.
Records And You
At this point, you’re probably beginning to understand that there is more to effective record keeping than you may have ever imagined. You are creating records each day, even if you do not keep them or accept them.
It is not really difficult to keep good sales records. The key is to form a daily habit. Make it a regular part of your normal sales activity.
One record keeping method is to use 3 x 5 cards and record your daily selling activity. Then, spend two or three minutes at the end of your day transferring the information to a master monthly sheet. Once you have begun to analyze your selling results, ratios and activity weaknesses, you can begin to set daily goals to improve your activity. For example, refer back to your monthly chart. In May, you notice a drastic drop-off in appointments. You could set a June goal of making 20 appointments for the month, five for the week or one for each day.
Don’t set goals too far out. It is important to break them down into smaller steps. For example, a goal in June might be to increase your telephone call to appointment ratio from one in five to five in five. Why not set a short-term goal equal to your previous best month (four out of five — line 7)? It is de-motivating to continue to set long-term goals and always fall short. Learn to break your activity goals down to the smallest increment of time.
Record keeping takes self-discipline, commitment and practice. But I guarantee you will see an increase in your income if you keep, refer to and learn from your records.