No more cold calls: Three steps to making informed calls and increasing close rates

About Flavil Hampsten

SVP, Ticket Sales & Partnership Marketing, Charlotte Hornets Sports and Entertainment

You are sitting at your desk making sales calls.   But now the computer is missing. A pile of 8 x 5 cards is stacked in front of you. Each card contains only a name, address and phone number.  Sliding your hand into your pocket for your cell phone, you find only lint. You’re moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas. You’ve just crossed over….into the Twilight Zone.

I don’t think any of us want to go back to the times of index cards and no computers.  How successful would be today if all you had was a name and number on a piece of paper?  Luckily for you, those days are over.

Making informed calls

Some organizations only allow salespeople to make informed calls.  Analytics determine which prospects have the best chance to become customers and give these prospects to the salespeople most suitable to close.

How does this happen?

1.  Data Aggregation – Collecting and centrally storing data helps the company and salespeople perform at peak levels in terms of closing ratios.

Are you on the team? This performance is not simply a function of the sales management team, but every salesperson on the floor.   Sales management purchases demographic data and stores it in a system for the salesperson to use.  However, each time the salesperson uncovers something about the prospect, the salesperson should also put that into the system.  Failure to do so will not only hurt the current salesperson but will also hurt the ability of each salesperson who comes after them.

2.  Buyer Behavior Studies – Once you have a set of data points, teams can then look to see if certain set of attributes equate to a better likelihood to close.  A predictive model comes into play when management can link “like” attributes to certain buyers.  For example, one may notice that most buyers of a mini-plan are males between 25-35 years of age, married, have children, and have a discretionary index of 100.   Once that is identified, management can assign similar prospects to the salespeople.

Russell Scibetti

Russell Scibetti

In-depth analysis. Some teams, such as the Charlotte Bobcats and New York Jets have upwards of 50 data points on each person in their system. Russell Scibetti explains, “The ability to aggregate behavioral and demographic data with the insights our staff collects puts us in a position to offer the right product options for any segment of our customer base.”

3.  Seller Behavior Studies – Critical, yet often overlooked, closing rates can determine which salesperson is most appropriate to call the lead. Who should get the web lead? Individual game buyer?

  • Jack closes web leads at a 58% margin and individual game buyers at an 8% rate.
  • Jill closes web leads at 35% and individual game buyers at 18%.

Analyze each lead segment.  Like Jack and Jill, you will usually find a trend for each salesperson.  Feed that salesperson the leads they are most likely to close and you will find that most salespeople will increase their total production. During training periods you can also help individuals improve in less productive segments.

Results

If these three elements are correctly implemented you will have salespeople making informed calls with qualified leads.  This system was implemented two seasons ago in Charlotte we took our closing percentage from .5% to 4%.

Moving your sales team’s winning percentage from say something like 2.2% to 2.5% may not sound like much on the surface. However, when you multiply that across 30-40 sales reps managing a total of 5,000-7,000 leads as a whole at a given time, that little 0.3% jump in winning percentage equates to about 10-20 more sales you are “winning” per week. If we can even move the needle a tenth of a percentage point better, it can mean hundreds of thousands of dollars to our sales campaign.

We’re glad we have moved out of the Twilight Zone. We said “goodbye” to cold calls and our customers are saying “hello” to our informed calls.

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