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Is sales a numbers game?

Updated: Jan 17, 2019

#coldCallingTraining #coldCall #salesCommitment #leadToProspect


No! Is the simple answer.


Other than pure slog, grit and tenacity; sales is much more complicated than picking up the phone to make that cold call.


I have witnessed and worked with countless sales executives that burn leads and when they don’t get through to the decision maker, shout down the phone as if the person was deaf; hurl abuse at gatekeepers, secretaries, PA’s and any other unsuspecting victim who happens to be at the other the end of the phone. It becomes transparent that these sales executives make a large number of cold calls with little or no success.


Other than timing and sometimes budget, “it’s personal.”


Most great sales executives whom I have met or interviewed already know this. It is innate that they don’t feel the need to acknowledge this particular area of sales. Maybe they take it for granted. It can be taught!


Some sloggers go into the office and truly believe if they make a minimum of 100 calls per day; it has been a good and successful day. It is preached by other sales coaches – you should be making 70, 80, 100 plus calls a day. Nonsense!!! - this is a misconception; a fallacy, and I shall explain why. (Just to be clear, I am coming from a b2b approach and not b2c).


Let us assume:-

  • 1 call (no answer) = 45 seconds + 15 seconds to look up the next number on the CRM and dial. That’s 60 calls per hour of no one answering the phone

  • 1 call (put through to decision maker but no answer) = 2 minutes. That’s 30 calls per hour of no one picking up the phone from an extension

  • 1 call (put through to decision maker and leave a voicemail) = 2 minutes. Again, 30 calls per hour leaving only voicemails

Within 3 hours that is 120 calls.


As a sales person are these good numbers? NO!


From an experienced sales professional you have made X number of calls with no one answering or you have been rejected X number of times throughout the day. Which is it?


Let us also assume:-

  • 1 call with a pitch and rejection = 3 minutes. That's 20 calls per hour with 20 rejections.

How many hours a day do you work? Do you have a lunch break? Or coffee or cigarette break? Using the assumptions above, how many successful calls do you make; and NOT how many calls do you make?


These examples do not include the time it takes to enter notes into the system, but you get the idea.


So, what is a successful call?

Some sales managers (if not all) state "a successful call is one that encompasses a meaningful conversation." - this is literal wording and it is ambiguous. I could have a deep and meaningful conversation with a decision maker on weddings and honeymoon plans but that isn’t necessarily going to turn into currency.



What should a successful call mean?

A call with commitment for further action. This type of call pushes the prospect through your sales funnel and closer towards a sale. Alternatively, a successful call should also mean you have just sent out an invoice – congratulations! You have closed someone.



Volume is a requirement. However, #firstImpressions ALWAYS last. Should you burn a lead, do you expect them to talk with you again? The real question is "would you want to talk to yourself, again?"


As mentioned above ‘it’s personal’; intentionally I didn’t mention personality. There are various methods and techniques that can be used to minimize the number of cold calls made in a day; convert a lead into a prospect and close.


Let’s look at another approach (The art of cold calling - Make each call count)

  • 1 call with a pitch and commitment = 6 minutes + 1 minute to bring up the next lead/prospect and dial the number. That's 9 calls per hour.

  • 2nd call or meeting 20 to 60 minutes + 15 minutes to add notes

  • @20 minutes. This is 1.7 calls per hour

  • @60 minutes. This is 0.8 calls per hour

The Takeaway - More calls DOES NOT MEAN higher success rates.


From the second lot of figures/approach; a good sales executive should be making a mixture of the 2. Imagine what your weekly diary would look like.


Author: Oliver Reade | Founder and Managing Director

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