Question: What’s the primary driver of conversion rate? Answer: In most cases, it’s not sales skill! The primary driver is most often what we call Opportunity Cycle Time: the time it takes to close an opportunity. What that means is that, if you want to improve conversion rates, you should look for a way to reduce Opportunity Cycle Time *before* you consider sales training. Now the easiest way to reduce cycle time is to schedule salespeople’s appointments for them. (You can also reengineer the Opportunity Management process.) Left to their own devices, salespeople will always program low-contribution activities over high-contribution ones (they’ll program the processing of an inbound enquiry over a follow-up call to someone who has been sent a proposal). This is because humans naturally overvalue uncertainty (if this weren’t the case, none of us would gamble). So consider the effects of sales training. As well as equipping salespeople with negotiation skills, sales training encourages them to be more opportunistic. This exacerbates their inclination to miss-program activities and, as a consequence, increases average Opportunity Cycle Time!
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