When I have trouble falling asleep, I pull up Solitaire on my computer. I’ve been playing that game most of my life and usually, if the game isn’t going my way, I just quit and start a new one. I did, that is, until a year ago when I noticed, at the end of the game, that the computer posted some stats. Namely, the percentage of time I actually won. Guess what? I never give up anymore.

It must be instinctive — at least for some people — the need to exceed others. Or to beat yourself. You do that by comparing what you did with what they did, or comparing what you did with what you did.


Really good salespeople are always comparing themselves to themselves. They care about stats. Who can argue with data? You may have a boss who doesn’t like you, but if you’re good, you’re good, and the numbers say it all.

In sales, three key statistics measure just how good you are:

Close rate: How many appointments resulted in sales? Not necessarily. When you’re looking at your close rate, what you want to compare is the number of sales you closed with the number of appointments you were issued. Or, in industry parlance, close-to-issue. Some people prefer to arrive at a closing rate by comparing the number of sales closed with the number of appointments they ran. That won’t tell you much if you’re cherry-picking appointments or blowing off the leads that don’t look promising. So out of all the leads you were given, how many did you sell? Increase that and you earn more.

Average sale: Are you going for enough? Say you sell roofing and your average sale is $12,000. There are lots of opportunities to sell upgrades and accessories. Couldn’t you upsell a better grade of shingle? What about gutter protection, or replacing that wobbly downspout?

What you’re trying to do is maximize the amount you make in commission. Say that simply by developing the habit of suggestion — asking — that you’re able to push that $12,000 up to $13,000. If you sell 10 jobs per month, that’s $120,000 a year in additional revenue generated, meaning you’ve just put another $12,000 in your pocket.

Keep rate: Really good salespeople have low rescission rates because they sold the job, they didn’t just take an order. They also know how to make customers feel comfortable and happy before they leave. Mediocre salespeople are so anxious to get a signature on the contract and not mess things up that they have no post-close routine except to get out the door as fast as they can. How much of what you sell becomes net good business? That will depend on the product. But say you’re selling windows and the company retains 90% of what it sells, or nine out of 10 sales clear without cancellation. Can you get that to 9.5? Can you sell in a way that’s so strong, and by using post-close techniques (that ferret out the hidden or unstated objections that become reasons to cancel), that you move it toward 10 out of 10, in other words, no rescission whatsoever?

Stats tell a big story, and it’s not hard to track this information. The best salespeople make notes on every call. Software programs let you track it like a whiteboard used to do. Your sales manager may have all this information, but that doesn’t mean he’s going to share it. The best way to get better is to create and update your own system. It’s a great feeling to know you’re getting better, and it will help you sell more.

—Marketing and sales consultant Rick Menendez has worked for some of the largest home improvement companies. Reach him at thericker@cox.net or 757.7464664.