Do you know how many of the enquiries you receive eventually convert into sales? And if you don’t, do you know why knowing this is so critical to your sales success?

Your sales performance is limited by a few primary factors – how many enquiries or leads you’re able to generate; how much time you need to spend working on each lead; and how many of the leads turn into sales, which is your conversion rate.

So many travel businesses spend most of their marketing budget generating the leads. Like squirrels foraging for food to see them through a long winter, they spend all their energy collecting leads with little knowledge of what happens to these leads once they’re channelled into the sales pipeline.

Increasing the number of leads generated is meaningless unless you can maintain or increase the number of leads that turn into sales. Sales success lies in maximising the value of each lead because each lead costs a lot to acquire and takes a lot of time to nurture.

This means that knowing and improving the rate at which your leads convert to sales becomes the most critical factor to increased sales performance and profitability.

Armed with this knowledge, you can begin to optimise your sales approach. Once the customer has walked through the proverbial door, how do you keep them interested, solve their problem and sell to them?

If you’re in the business of selling travel, you need to nurture your relationship and show real value to turn them into a loyal customer and brand ambassador forever.  

You have one opportunity to nurture a relationship with your lead and show them value. Customers will not return to a supplier they previously rejected unless they weren’t ready to buy, or they received bad service. So, if you lose a lead to a competitor, unless the customer received bad service from them, you’ll probably never get that customer back.

By failing to convert a lead, you’re missing an opportunity. Not measuring your sales conversions means you have no idea how many opportunities you’ve missed and how to fix this.

It’s not necessarily numbers of leads that you’re after. Remember the foraging squirrel? You need to optimise your sales conversion rate (how many of the leads that are received, are converted?) and the sales value per converted lead through upselling, which can bring you closer to your customers and increase the value of that sale.

Shrug off all images of a used-car salesman from the 1970s. Upselling is not a dirty word. If you do it with the customer’s genuine interests at heart, it adds immense value to them and improves your conversion rate.

But how do you calculate your conversion rate?

Typically, you would take your number of sales divided by the number of leads and multiply by 100 to get a percentage. Alternatively, you could also take your total value of sales and divide this by your number of leads to understand the value of each lead.

For example, if you have a 10% conversion rate, you convert one in every 10 travel leads you get. And if you’ve sold R100 000, each lead was worth R10 000.

Measuring your conversion rates is the starting point. Look specifically at your marketing sources, your sales consultants, the country of origin (if inbound) and country of destination.

If a channel of marketing works better for quality of lead, increase your marketing and reduce or stop completely marketing with channels that deliver low conversion rates.

Approach consultants with higher conversion rates to assess what they’re doing differently to those with lower conversion rates, and share this with other consultants. You could also incentivise sales staff on their achieved conversion rates, not just the value of the sale.

The next step would be to evaluate the conversion. At what stage in the sales process, did the client leave? And why was the lead lost? Did the lead not travel? Did the lead go to another agent, and if so why? Did the lead book with a supplier directly?

Having this intelligence on hand will help you to optimise your sales conversion by revealing those areas that could do with a bit of tweaking.

No matter how your sales team is performing, there’s always something that can be done to improve your sales batting average. Start today and reap the benefits of increased sales in no time.