In a perfect world, we would secure every sale without ever knowing the bitter taste of failure. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world. There is no way to succeed without failing over and over again. Selling is a numbers game, and even the best salespeople must make countless attempts to gain just a few customers.
While you may not be able to avoid losing entirely, you can certainly maximize your chances of success. I use a visualization tool called “the funnel to success,” as well as data generated during the sales process, to uncover where all inefficiencies lie.
How does success happen?
Selling is a process with many steps. You don’t just flip a coin and instantly find out whether you’ve succeeded or failed. First, you call the customer and try to set up a meeting. Then, you deliver your pitch. If they’re still on board, you try to secure a commitment from them.
Each attempted sale either succeeds or gets stopped at a certain step in the process. Because no one always gets a positive response, the likelihood of getting past each step narrows as you move forward. Some percentage of your attempts will make it all the way through and result in success. This gradual narrowing is the what I call the funnel to success.
Why is the funnel to success useful in sales?
The funnel to success is a powerful tool for identifying where you can make improvements along the path to success. By tracking how far each attempt gets, you can analyze and determine which stages you excel at and which stages you need to work on.
For example, suppose that many customers are willing to set up meetings when you call, but few are won over by your sales pitch. Without analyzing the funnel to success, you might never realize this important detail. However, when you track your data, it becomes clear that you need to experiment with tweaking your pitch. The ability to find meaningful conclusions from data that you generate is why the funnel to success is such a powerful tool for sales leaders.
How can you apply this tool as a leader?
One of the best things about visualizing and analyzing the actions you take is that it’s not just applicable in the world of sales. This methodology can be used to refine your approach to just about anything. By breaking any process down into parts, you can quickly identify where you have room to improve based on where you fail. By continually and systematically tracking this information, you can keep improving. That means you can leave your more stagnant competitors in the dust.
The funnel to success is just one tool highlighting the power of collecting and using data from your surroundings. When you combine your intuition with the results of objective analysis, it’s possible to make better informed choices. Whenever you do anything in the world of business, you generate free data. So, why not use it?
It’s impossible to secure every sale. However, that doesn’t mean you’re powerless to control what percentage of your attempts succeed. Looking at your attempts through the lens of the funnel to success enables you to identify exactly where you need to improve.
Of course, it still falls to you to figure out exactly how to improve these areas. Luckily, by experimenting with different techniques and analyzing the results, it’s possible to ultimately figure out what works. There is always room to improve, so don’t be satisfied with your current success rate. Instead, start minimizing your losses.