Why Sales Closing Rates Mean Less Than Ever in 2017 and Beyond
For many, many years, sales closing rates have had a major impact on businesses all over the world.
If a consumer or prospect walked in the showroom, store, or office(or even called on the phone)—the skills of the sales person were everything.
Case in point, let’s look at the automotive industry as an example. In the past, two factors impacted the location of automotive dealerships:
- How much drive-by traffic did the location get?
- How many other automotive dealers were nearby?
The reason for #2 is pretty obvious—it used to be that when someone was going to buy a vehicle, they’d go “dealership hopping”—stopping at 3 or 4 dealerships (within a close proximity) so as to find the “best deal.”
It was during this period (the last 50+ years) that a sales person’s closing rates really, really mattered. After all, they were counted on to “close the deal” so as to prevent the consumer from continued shopping. Furthermore, they were competing against the skills of the other sales pros the consumer was dealing with.
But look at how the automotive industry has changed.
For the most part, consumers no longer hop from dealership to dealership.
Instead, they identify (online) the vehicle (or vehicles) they want, the prices of said vehicles, and the corresponding dealerships that carry these vehicles.
So, by the time the consumer shows up to the lot, the deal is often done.
The sale has already been made.
And the sales person has been essentially rendered an order-taker.
But this isn’t about automotive space. Rather, it’s a trend affecting almost every industry around the world.
The Numbers Don’t Lie
By this point, you’ve likely seen the numbers.
Depending on which study you read, the average consumer (B2B and B2C) makes roughly 70% of the buying decision before they ever talk to the company/sales person.
If we further analyze this number and go back a decade or so, the average consumer had likely made 20-30% of the buying decision before they’d actually engaged the company.
Five years ago, we’re sitting somewhere between 40-50%.
Today were at 70%.
So the question is (for every business reading this right now), what’s this number going to average over the next 5-10 years and beyond?
Although we can’t predict the future, one things is for certain: The number isn’t going down…ever.
The Impact on Sales Teams and Closing Rates
If 70% of the buying decision is made before a consumer talks to a sales person, which department of a company has a greater impact on the actual sale—is it the Sales Department or the Marketing Department?
(If we’re willing to swallow the pill called “reality,” the answer is of course Marketing.)
Beyond the overall significance and roles of Sales and Marketing departments though, there is another trend one must recognize as a result of this shift.
Sales closing rates no longer carry the day.
Look at it like this: If your company has an 80% lead to customer closing rate, but you’re only generating 1% of the leads you could and should be generating (because your marketing is so poor), do you have any reason to celebrate an 80% closing rate?
This is just a simple example, but hopefully you see the point.
Truth be told, there are thousands and thousands of businesses out there with extremely high closing rates that are going out of business.
And the reason, of course, is because they’re not getting in front of enough people.
The sales team members are too busy “doing it the way it has always been done” while sitting in their cubicle and waiting for the phone to ring.
At this point, sales teams need to stop listening for the phone and stop waiting for someone to walk through the door and instead start assisting the marketing process.
In 2017 and beyond, the sales pros that will keep their jobs won’t be the one’s doing it the way it has always been done, but rather they’ll be helping Marketing to produce videos, write articles, develop podcasts, etc.
In other words, they’ll be very, very engaged in this thing we call digital marketing.
And if they don’t, at some point, they will be left behind.
Even with their high closing rates.