Make them buy, not spin in place

Thursday, August 26, 2010

A. Before I make recommendations on how clients can best drive more people through their doors and visit their websites, I tell them to first investigate how well those who are currently contacting their company are being served.

A number that will make most business owners cringe is 70%. That’s the percentage of new customers, according to my experience, that are “disqualified” in most businesses, regardless of the industry. Of those, 80% go on to buy someplace else within 12 months.

The quickest (and least expensive) way to add sales to the bottom line is to improve the close ratio of the customers already coming to you. Once you do this, you will increase sales, create sales velocity and improve the buying experience. Customers will share with their communities how easy you are to work with and word-of-mouth referrals will increase.

The first step in improving your close ratio is to identify how your team currently serves existing clients. I want you to literally use post-it notes and map the most likely paths to revenue. For example, do most of your clients come in from a local rehabilitation facility? Map where they start and the process they use to solve their problems. Do they call for information, stop by, visit your website, all three?

Next, call some customers and non-customers and conduct win-loss interviews. Take this information, add post-it notes to your sales process map and look for what I refer to as “spin cycles.” For example, let’s say you have clients who want power wheelchairs but they don’t know if they’re covered by insurance. So the sale starts spinning over reimbursement and/or financing. If this is a common problem, identify places in the path to a sale where your buyers go “round and round.” If you find this to be the case, build a relationship with a local financial institution to offer a solution and keep the path to the sale moving. Spin cycles cause delays and often the sale never occurs.