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It’s a numbers game

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Sales is a numbers game. However you look at it, the more people you interact with, the better the result.  It’s about looking at the ratios.  

Here’s a story from 1999 when I was in my last year as a local government senior manager and a member of the National Fundraising Institute.  Although it was a while ago, the concept still rings true today. 

One of our city’s scenic parks had formed a charitable Trust and through my work, I’d got to know them quite well.  I actively supported the group and encouraged their work.  One project they’d decided to run was to produce 1000 commemorative calendars of painted scenes of the park and lake which was to be done by different local artists.

In December 1999, the Chairman of the Trust approached me and said the project was in difficulty.  It had cost a  lot to product the calendar and at this stage, only a handful had been sold; the end of the year was fast approaching and time was running out. Not only would it reflect badly on the Trust, but it would also be a PR failure for my new style approach I’d adopted to public sector management.

At this point, I knew enough about sales to appreciate that it’s a numbers game.  A much better strategy was needed to be able to sell the calendars and quickly – they were no good once we went into the new calendar year.  My thoughts were to trial telemarketing as well as traditional door-to-door sales. 

Along with a colleague, we set about calling people using the phone book and starting at A. We positioned the offer asking whether people knew that a commemorative calendar had been produced for the millennium to help raise funds for the lake and park. It didn’t matter if they said yes or no, we simply asked whether they’d like to purchase one or two at $20 each! From that trial, we sold two calendars an hour each. 

Next, we trialed the door-to-door sales, so on a Saturday morning with my son in tow, we went door-to-door selling near to where the lake was. In two hours, we’d raised $400 which included a generous donation and 11 calendars in one hour.

Due the demographics of the trust, we were able to enlist enough local student volunteers to assist with our door-to-door sales. With an average of three calendars sold an hour coupled with additional campaigns (I approached a local business and managed to sell them 100 calendars at a discount rate), the calendar project was saved.

So, what was the lesson learnt?

It doesn’t matter what you’re selling, it comes down to a simple ratio. In the absence of a well-planned marketing strategy and campaign we managed to achieve two sales an hour through telemarketing, three sales an hour through volunteer students and 11 sales an hour with me going face-to-face door knocking.

Remember, ratios will always produce a result providing you connect with and ask enough people.  

 

 

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