At Human Experience we love data and I always find it fascinating to take a dive into the data to see what it’s telling us.
Anyone who has ever had a sales KPI as part of their role will be au fait with the importance of following up a sales lead in a timely manner. When I owned my Fernwood Women’s Health Clubs, this was one of the key things I monitored with my Sales Consultants as I was acutely aware that whether or not those follow-up calls were being made was directly correlated to not meeting / meeting / exceeding budget.
The reality is very few humans love making follow-up calls, in fact anyone who has managed a sales team will tell you these calls are often de-prioritised or worse still, regularly avoided.
So last month I looked at our data, focusing on sales follow-up from the last 4+ years across the retail, hospitality and fitness industries and focusing on over 2,000 mystery shops where we measured this data point.
When we first started mystery shopping these clients, our shoppers received a follow up call 29% of the time. If you can accept that our mystery shops are a representation of what typically happens, that translates to more than two thirds of their potential customers not being followed up after showing interest in their product or service.
Then I looked at this same data point as an average over time and since our clients started mystery shopping with us, on average our shoppers receive a follow-up call 54% of the time. While that’s an improvement of 25%, you can see there’s still a huge opportunity for improvement, because if you accept that our mystery shops are a representation of what typically happens with all customers, it means that nearly half of potential customers are not being followed up.
After we did this exercise, I called 3 clients that have been measuring this data point for more than 3 years. I asked them how they felt about these statistics and the common themes were;
• They were happy with this modest improvement, as they told me it’s often the hardest sales behaviour to change
• They had all seen an improvement in sales conversions since they started mystery shopping
• While they all understood the importance of sales follow up, they were more concerned on coaching their teams on other sales behaviours like building rapport, selling benefits over features, overcoming objections and asking to close the sale.
What do I think? Well, I agree with our clients, it’s a good improvement, I’m super happy that our reports are improving their sales conversions and yes, there are lots of other sales behaviours that we measure that also need our focus.
BUT I think there is a huge opportunity going begging here! I think we’re settling with mediocracy if we accept that only half of our potential customers are getting a follow up call after they’ve shown interest in our product or service. Imagine if we did this 80%, 90% or even 100% of the time – what would our sales conversions look like then? I shared these thoughts with my clients and encouraged them to challenge what felt like a bit of complacency around this measure. I’m looking forward to seeing what they choose to do now.
What’s your teams sales follow-up percentage like?
If you’re not currently measuring it, I think it’s safe to expect it would be less than 30%. If you could provide your team with feedback and coaching on this data point – what do you think it would increase to? And what impact would that have on your sales results? Could you aspire to go above 54% in your follow up call rates?
This is why we love data – yes it improves performance, but it also inspires us to raise the bar even more. It generates conversation and provides us with a focus to do better, because thanks to the data, we now know better.