Machine Guns, Shot Guns, and Prospecting

Last week I did some heavy sales and marketing for Connect 5000. My employees and I play a dual role: filling our client’s sales pipelines as well as our internal one. We know that clients do not last forever. We always need to keep our pipeline full because the harsh reality is that clients leave you for a variety of reasons and it may not be your fault at all. Sometimes it is. Sometimes it isn’t.

For 3 days, I did some marketing activities and got zero positive responses. 3 days felt like an eternity. It isn’t. We all know that you have to plant a ton of sales seeds for the future. Some sprout up quickly. Others take months.

I felt a little discouraged due to my instant gratification nature and wanted results like NOW.

I decided to go back and look at my 2011 sales numbers as a point of reference which brought me back to reality and was actually encouraging.

Here is the high level:

1,891 sales calls

208 conversations

90 sales appointments

38 proposals

16 new clients

When I dug deeper, here’s what I found (totally transparent and vulnerable, for better or worse):

For every 100 sales calls I made, I caught 11% of the people live by phone. (Goal is 10%)

For every person I spoke with, 43% of them agreed to a meeting. (Goal is 50%)

Therefore, for every 100 calls I made, 4.7% of the people said yes to a call. (Goal is 3-5%).

So for every 100 people I called, 4.7 said yes, 95.3% of them said no or I got their voicemail.

If they received a proposal, 42.1% of them became a client.

If we spoke at least one time, but the prospect didn’t receive a proposal, the overall ratio was 17.78%.

Average sales cycle at Connect 5000: 4 months. (Not 3 days!)

As you may know, we only represent software, technology, and consulting companies with high average sales (think 5 or 6 or 7 figures) and long sales cycles. The danger for companies is to think short term. At some point, the sales pipeline needs to be filled with potential prospects.

Prospecting is only part of the sales and marketing equation. Hopefully your marketing team is generating responses by getting the phone to ring, getting a prospect to respond to an email, social media is getting prospects to raise their hands, etc.

You have to supplement your companies sales pipelines with sales calls, prospecting calls, cold calls, social media calls, whatever you want to call it.

What does this have to do with machine guns and shot guns?

Machine gun approach: assuming your targeting companies and executives correctly to set sales appointments or meetings, you have to spray a ton of bullets out there in a variety of directions and see what sticks. (Marketing)

Shotgun approach: one someone “raises” their hands, you systematically focus in on them and go for the “kill”. Not literally of course! Use your bullets wisely and carefully.  (Sales)

Summary: shoot out a ton of bullets and see what generates a response. Once a response occurs, focus squarely on turning that response into a client, assuming they’re a right fit for you.

– Ray Ruecker (With complete transparency on sales numbers for this post!)