How Can I Improve My Sales Success Rate?

January 18, 2017

How Can I Improve My Sales Success Rate?

Well it would be nice wouldn't it? I mean, all those sales just falling into your lap with little effort on your part. What consultant doesn't want that?

Or maybe, like me at various times in my career, just a little improvement (or a little bit of luck) would make you feel so much better. If only...

I guess almost all of us in the consulting field have grappled with this at one time or another and there are certainly things you can do which may help. For example, you can to do some analysis. Look back at your projects over the last couple of years and recall how you got them. Did you win them in open Requests for Proposals (RFPs)? Were they the result of people you met at certain types of events? How many clients are new? What size of project are you typically selling? Which were your best projects? Are there any patterns you can see?

Then do an analysis of your unsuccessful proposals. Do you know why they were unsuccessful? What is the ratio of proposals to sales? What is the dollar ratio of proposals to sales? Do you know how long you spent on proposals? Again, are any patterns emerging?

Some indicators may drop out of this analysis. Typical results include the following:

  • A lot of time is spent responding to RFPs unsuccessfully.
  • Most of your sales are coming from one major client or one sector.
  • A lot of proposals are what you might regard as long shots.
  • Most of the projects sold are low in value.

Okay, now let’s turn this around. Who is your ideal client or which is your ideal sector? How are you targeting that sector? Where do you need to be to meet more people in that sector? How are your sales and marketing activities geared to your ideal clients and sectors?

Then there’s research. Do you know what the key issues are in your target sector? Do you understand the problems your ideal clients are struggling with? Can you think of any services you can offer that may help them? And if you can identify some issues, can you come up with some marketing activities that would help get your name out there?

There are no silver bullets in this area, in my experience. But there are a couple of things you can do that should improve your chances and have worked well for me:

  • There is no substitute for face-to-face contact, so get out to the appropriate networking events where your ideal clients are, so you can get yourself better known within that sector.
  • Speaking at an event that your ideal clients may attend is a gold-plated opportunity to get more work. Find an appropriate event, even a small one, that you can present at. This can have a huge impact.

It all sounds easy when you write it out in a short piece like this - and I know it isn't. But if your business is not going the way you want it to then something needs to change, and all I've tried to do is set down a few things that might help. As always I'd appreciate your comments, in particular related to actions you have taken to bring in more sales.


As a highly experienced consultant and author of “Consulting Made Easy”, Adrian assists consultants, or would be consultants, to achieve success on their terms in their own consulting businesses.  Adrian helps consultants increase their fee rates, find more clients, have more free time and have more fun.
Contact Adrian at to learn more.

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