With school back in session and fall in the air, most companies have turned (or should be turning) their attention to building leads and getting people engaged so that you can close deals in the winter and the spring, as our sales cycle chart to the right shows. At this point, for whatever your goal is, you should be focused on building a pipeline of leads for January that will be four to five times larger than your target amount of sales. Clearly, we are talking about qualified leads – those with which you are already in conversation – rather than those that you hope will talk to you soon. Of course, building this pipeline still means that you will need to close on one out of every four or five leads to meet your sales target.
As easy as it sounds to build your leads when you are developing your sales strategy, too often companies simply leave their strategy as just that – a strategy – and fail to execute it fully. You should be focused on doing something enough times – cold calls, trade shows, or whatever your strategy calls for – to see if your strategy is working, based on the number of repetitions, not just the time that elapses. So, for instance, if your strategy calls for contacting 25 potential customers in two months, the real benchmark comes when you have contacted 25 leads, not when two months have passed.
By focusing on the number of repetitions in the execution instead of the timeframe, you can get a better read on the success of your strategy. We have found that once you sell or use a tactic 25 times, you have then learned enough to make changes. Until then, just focus on execution. Whether it takes 30 days or 90 days, do it 25 times before you think about changing your strategy. We know one company that put a 90 day timeline on a new sales strategy. After 45 days and only two successes, they wanted to shift gears – but they had only tried the strategy six times. After being persuaded to finish out the 25 repetitions, they found that 35% of the 25 sales demos converted to sales – an effective approach, once they stuck with the strategy and executed it enough times.