What is your conversion period?

A conversion rate is the percentage of prospects who become customers. So if you talk to 10 prospects and one of them becomes a customer, your conversion rate is 10%. The exact rate depends on a number of factors including the industry, the competition, and your ability to sell. And there’s a good chance that you have some idea of what your conversion rate is, even if you’ve never measured it.

But what about your conversion period? What is the average length of time that a prospect takes to become a client? Sure, it will vary from one prospect to the next, and it will depend on the time of year and the type of products or services you’re offering, but there is an average. Do you know what yours is?

Create a chart and write down the names of your prospects in one column and the date you first contacted them in another. If you contact them several times throughout the conversion period, note the dates each time. When they say “yes, I’ll buy from you”, note the date again. You now have a record of your conversion period (and your effort through the process).

Yeah, it takes some discipline but it will make you a lot of money once you’re done so it’s well worth the few moments of effort.

Once you have a few dozen of these things listed, you should have enough data to figure out an average. (Remember that this might be influenced by the time of year so it’s worth maintaining an ongoing calculation).

You’ve got so much great information in this chart! You know how many prospects become clients (so if you didn’t know your conversion rate before, you do now); you know how much effort it takes to win a customer (so if you don’t win customers by contacting them 1-5 times but you do win them by contacting them 6 or more times, you’ve got some great insight there); and you know how long it takes to turn a prospect into a customer.

With that information you can work on accelerating your conversions:

  • Create a sense of urgency with a limited time offer. For example: “If you commit within the next week, I’ll also include…”. (I would advise against reducing your price within a certain amount of time but rather consider increasing your offer or adding a bonus of some kind).
  • Try to talk to them. I think that personal contact can really speed up your conversion. Get them on the phone or on Skype.
  • Embed your name in their mind: Don’t harass them but do ping them with added value from time to time. Something like: “Hey, I know you’re still thinking about my proposal but I thought you might be interested in reading this article…”
  • Schedule their project in as if they’ve already agreed to work with you. Try something like: “I’ve set aside some time for you next week to start your project. If you decide to work with someone else, that’s fine, but the time is there if you want to get started.”
  • Make recommendations. If you provide a service instead of a product, people often aren’t sure how to start or what the next step is. I have a “How to Hire Me Through Guru.com” e-guide for just such an occasion. I also frequently include a “Next Steps” section in my emails and proposals to make it clear what needs to happen next.
  • Experiment with different things: Will sending them a more detailed proposal increase the likelihood of their purchase? Will contacting them more frequently accelerate or decelerate the process? Make one change at a time and take note of every change in your chart.
  • One of the most important things you can do is make sure that all of your content follows this process, first by being an appropriate piece of content for the situation and also by clearly pushing the prospect forward toward a decision to become a client. This is a key part of content strategy.

It’s also worth noting the length of time between the conversion and your first pay check. This will help you to get a handle on your cash flow, too, and will give you some data around how many people who say they will buy from you actually buy from you.

[Photo credit: C.K. Hartman]

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