A doctor friend of mine and I were talking on the phone a few weeks ago. In answer to a question I asked, she dropped some interesting facts that apply to the world of sales.

On average, when a doctor prescribes medication to 100 patients, 1/3 of the patients will not actually go pick up that prescription. Another 1/3 of patients will fill the prescription, buy the medicine, and then not take it , or stop taking it almost immediately. When she told me that, I mentioned my assumption that many of the 1/3 who buy the medicine but stop taking it do so due to side effects. Incorrect, she told me, when side effects cause an issue, most of those patients come in and ask for an alternative medication.

Wow. Only 1/3 of people who take time to get diagnosed with an issue, prescribed a medication ACTUALLY FOLLOW THROUGH and take that medication. The other 2/3 don’t take their meds, and half of them purchased it!

I know this applies to buyers as well. I know this because some principles and mathematical equations are constants in life. Like the Pareto Principle (Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto’s 1896 theory that you also know as the 80/20 rule). Across all sales, all industries, there is a documented thing called the 1/3 rule, which basically states that only 1/3 of prospects will buy. Another 1/3 need to be sold, and the last 1/3 will not buy at all.

That’s a lot of math, I know. Think about it though. Think about what it means about buyers and buyer’s remorse that when humans (the most proactive and intelligent species on the planet) are sick, only 1/3 of them with a diagnosis AND a prescribed cure actually take it. You’d think that being sick makes you a motivated buyer.

A sales pro looks at that information and concludes from it that even when you take all the prospects who have a need for what you sell, understand that need, and take the time to seek a solution, you still are facing only a 1 in 3 chance that they’ll buy and use your solution after they buy. How’s that going to impact your repeat business and referrals?

A sales pro hence concludes that he/she needs to be proposing 3 deals for every one they expect to close. Not because there is a lack of need, or even a lack of awareness of that need, but because a new action, even a necessary one, is hard for most people to act on. Be it medicine, software, products, consulting or anything else. Basic math mixed with human psychology means your sales success is based on talking to and sending far more proposals than you expect to close.

My personal experience is that you really never can tell which one of the 3 accounts is going to sign. The most promising ones sometimes fall apart and the long shots sometimes come through.

The point is, lots of activity is what generates consistent results. Stay focused on consistent activity.