The myth about the many customer visits

# 29 – September 2012

Having invested in a field sales force you have the most qualified tool to reach your customers. Then you have a sales person who will approach, convince and close the deals with the customer. The number of customer visits the sales people do is then a good measurement since it gives an indication on how many customers you have capacity to work on and how many deals you are able to drive.

The question is: How many customer visits should you expect from the sales force? And how many are they doing currently?

The misconception.

Our experience, based on six years of auditing sales organisations, is that management nearly always overestimates the number of sales visits the sales people actually do.
What is the reason for this? For starters it could be because people are inclined to believe that things are more positive than they really are. Another factor could be that this perception is based on what the sales force ought to do rather than on what they actually do.

To really measure the number of customer visits is the only way to find out the current performance. Only then can you go from myth to reality.

What to measure?

Successful sales organisations don’t only measure sales results; they also measure and follow up on activities. Most commonly the measurement is on customer visits, but this could vary depending on industry, what you are selling, etc. Other measurements could be number of new customer visits, demonstrations, seminars and outbound phone calls.

Irrespective of the activity you track, you have to handle the quality aspect. I.e. that you verify that the activity has indeed occurred and that the purpose of the meeting has been achieved.

What to expect?

We frequently get the question “How many visits are reasonable, how many are possible?” and the answer it “It depends”. It depends on your type of industry, the complexity of what you are offering, what your sales process looks like, etc. In broad terms we see everything from 25 customer visits a week in fast moving consumable goods to 5 visits a week for complex IT systems.
However, there are many “buts” so please get back to us for a more nuanced discussion depending on your specific situation.