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What is the right number of customer visits?

# 33 – June 2013

We all understand that for those who sell, customer visits are the primary driver for our sales. We also understand that tracking those visits gives us a good idea of our progress toward sales. But what is the “right” number of customer visits?

What should we expect from a sales person during a week or a month, what is a reasonable target?

A lot of companies will set targets based on any number of ideas – “This is what we have historically done.” “This is what the competition does.” “This is what the sales people think is right.” etc.”
We believe that more analysis is required. It’s a good idea to start with the business requirements – what the sales people need to do in order to achieve their sales quotas.

Business requirements
The number of customer visits a sales person needs to do can be divided into two categories:
• Those needed for retaining the customer
• Those needed for driving deals
Let’s discuss these.

1. Retaining the customer base
These are visits required maintain the customer relationship. Visit frequency is determined according to cusomter importance. The number of customers in each category multiplied by the desired frequency for that category will yield an annual target. Regular meetings with our sales personnel will probably yield the most accurate number for these meetings and aid sales personnel buy in.

2. Driving Deals
These are the activities needed to drive the deal from an identified opportunity to an order. A lot of these activities may be during customer visits, but they are not the same thing as a “good will” visit and may not be to an existing customer at all. The number of visits required is dependent on the industry, sales process and approach model.

The sum of these two types of visits – to retain the customer base and to drive the required number of deals, is the level you need to reach if you should make your sales targets.
Setting your visit goals using these methods will create a truer idea of the number of visits required, identify under staffed and underperforming areas, support reallocation of resources, and set the stage for sales force buy in to changing demands.

Future potential
This process is an excellent opportunity to challenge the sales organisation by seeking inspiration from high performance industries, high performance companies within your industry, and high performance individual within your own company

How to formulate the targets
We recommend you to formulate a weekly target, simply by dividing the annual target with the number working weeks in a year. It gives a better sense of pace plus it’s easier to monitor and follow up. When following up it is essential to secure the quality aspect as well: That we visit the right customers with the right frequency and that there is momentum in the deals you drive.

Activity targets based on more thorough calculations like this, is more readily acceptable from sales forces. The connection between activity and result becomes apparent, where both quality and quantity aspects are part of the equation.

Do you want to know what the right number of customer visit is for your organisation? Contact us, and we’ll discuss further.