Simple Sales Tracking Blog

Does Cold-Calling Still Work?

In my last article I ranked cold calling at the bottom of the list as far as prospecting activities were concerned.
This caused a number of comments which I felt needed to be addressed.
I define a cold call as “calling on someone who doesn’t know you and is not expecting your call or visit.”
Now most experienced salespeople will have their cold calling story of the “big one” they got as a result of cold calling a prospect.  However for every one of those there are 100’s of prospects they burnt along the way as a result of a cold call.
Ask these same successful salespeople if they still cold call and the answer is always no as their business now comes from referrals.  But everyone has to cold call to get started I hear some of you saying.
The answer is that if you don’t have any other prospecting systems, then yes, you will have to cold call when starting out.  The plan then is to have your prospecting plan organised to get enough referrals to fill your diaries.
The punishment for not achieving this is cold calling and if you must do this then only ever cold call “C & D” type prospects  – that way if you burn them you haven’t wasted a major opportunity.
I was reading an article recently by Frank Rumbauskas the author of “Never Cold Call Again” and he mentioned some research by the Keller Research Centre at Baylor University in Texas.   The study was based on a group of 50 experienced and qualified salespeople who made a total of 6,264 phone-based cold calls over a two week period.  And the results were far worse than even he would have expected.  “Dismal” would be a compliment says Frank.

Here’s how it turned out:
72% of the calls were outright rejections.  People saying “no way,” hang-ups and so on
28% of the calls were labelled as “productive”.  These were people who didn’t hang up right away showed some interest, gave a referral, asked to be called at a later time and so on.

But what was most interesting is that the majority of the two week study period was spent working on and following up with this 28% of the list.  The time that went into it was extraordinary and very eye-opening when you see the final results.
That 28% – totalling 1,774 calls, resulted in 19 – yes, that’s NINETEEN  appointments.  Out of a total of 6,264 cold calls made!
The success rate of cold calls to appointments is 0.3% (based on the average closing rate of 20%, that would equate to just under 4 sales, from 6,264 cold calls)
Now that you have heard the horrific numbers experienced during the study, here is the conclusion drawn from it.

Experienced salespeople can expect to spend 7.5 hours of cold calling to get ONE qualified appointment.   That’s an appointment – NOT a sale!  Cold-calling is a numbers game – A BIG numbers game – and one we are bound to loose.

My suggestion is to follow a structured prospecting plan which will lead to the right number of referred leads and sales.

My next article will focus on how to achieve this.

Quote of the Month:
“At the age of three, we all possessed three important skills to make the sale:
Persistence, creativity, and the ability to ask one question after another”
Dirk Zeller

Brett Burgess is a Sales Trainer and Programme Developer for Sales Impact Group.

Filed under: Sales Techniques and Strategy, ,

Are you a Rocket Scientist or a Salesperson?

Recently I attended a business function where one of my clients introduced me to a business consultant.  Upon hearing I was a sales trainer the consultant related how he had watched a couple of dvds on sales training over the Christmas break and decided that perhaps he could add sales training to his portfolio after all as he said “its not rocket science”!

I was most disappointed to hear this as I have been waiting for the call from NASA for some time!!! 

But in fairness I have to agree that selling isn’t rocket science, it is very basic.

I always say –    “selling is simple – but not easy”

Sales in a nutshell comes down to –

Identifying your Prospect

Gaining an Introduction

Uncovering a Need
(If they have one)

Showing the Return on Investment

Asking for the Business

Delivering the Service

Follow Up and Support

Regular Contact

So if you want to launch your sales to new heights in 2011 you will need to jettison some of your unproductive practices that do not directly contribute to one of these areas.

We know that most salespeople on average only spend 90 minutes per day in face to face meetings – the rest of the time is spent gliding through the myriad of other jobs that they are tasked with.

A breakdown of where a typical sales rep spends their time would be –

Sales administration:  16%.  This includes any administrative work directly related to a sale such as entering information, writing reports, filling out order forms, pricing up jobs, quoting and writing proposals.

One way to lessen sales administrative time is to put an expert network in place.  Sales reps spend a lot of time tracking down answers to customer questions – finding the right person to answer the question,
sending emails, exchanging voice mails and so on.  Consider delegating the most time consuming tasks such as pricing and proposal writing.

Sales preparation:  16%.  This includes all the time spent preparing for a call, including research, preparing a meeting agenda, putting together a presentation and so on.

Waiting: 11%.  This includes time spent waiting for a customer, whether in the customer’s reception, on the phone, or in the customer’s office while he or she attends to another matter.

Travel and travel-related waiting:  21%    This category is just what it sounds like – the time reps spend in a car, on a plane, sitting in traffic or sitting at the airport.  To decrease the amount of time reps spend travelling or waiting to travel, look at how you might use telemarketers to interact with customers.  Face–to-face contact is great, but save it for when it adds the most value.   Territory planning can have a huge effect on reducing travel time.

Other administrative tasks:  10% – This is a catchall bucket for time-spent doing everything not included in the other categories. It includes everything from filing expense reports and time sheets to getting a cup of coffee.

Selling:  25%.  If you can decrease the time your reps spend doing other things, they theoretically should have more time to spend selling.  So put systems to work for you and watch this percentage grow.

How do these figures compare to our sales week?

If we are to propel our sales into lunar orbit then we need to delegate any task that is not related to business growth.

The beauty about selling is the sky is the limit when it comes to business growth.

So to help your sales to soar this year, spend more time face to face with great referred prospects – after all, it’s not “Rocket Science”!!!

Action Steps:

1. Identify all tasks that take up more than 30 minutes per week
2. Plan to either eliminate, delegate or outsource within a month
3. Block times for face to face meetings in your weekly planner
                                                             Sales isn’t rocket science
                                                                                        Unknown Consultant

Brett Burgess is a Sales Trainer and Programme Developer for Sales Impact Group.

Filed under: Sales Techniques and Strategy, , , , ,

How Much Actual Selling Time Do You Have?

A challenge I hear from many salespeople and business owners alike is that there is never enough time to keep in touch with all their clients and prospects.   This in turn leads to many lost opportunities and indeed lost clients.

There are just two areas salespeople and business owners need to focus their time on as far as sales are concerned.

The first we will look at is retention of existing clients.   Our existing clients offer the best opportunity for future growth for a couple of very good reasons.

Firstly we have already earned their trust as an advisor/supplier and are therefore most likely to be offered the first opportunity of further work and secondly in many cases we are only getting a percentage of their work.

Some studies have shown that most of what we might consider to be “A” type clients are only in fact giving us slightly more than 50% of their potential business. 

Secondly, and this may come as a surprise to many salespeople, the key reason for this is a lack of account strategies and planning, particularly in smaller businesses who seem to believe if we look after the client we will automatically get all their business.

So to maximize sales to our existing clients we need to develop an account strategy.

The first step in this process is to identify the services and products they are already buying from us then work out what other needs we can fulfill for them and build these into our call objectives.

Another step is to work out a call cycle. This will depend largely on what type of client you are dealing with.  A trap for many of us is to categorize by turnover.  It is therefore very important to look at a number areas when categorizing accounts, such as gross profit margin, lifetime value, wallet share, potential growth and so on.

All accounts, including those of prospects and customers, should be categorized to keep their call frequency as productive as possible. You must decide which accounts are most important to your company.  Categorizing helps determine this.  For every prospect or customer, there is a call frequency that will give you maximum return per call.

It is based on the belief that a greater portion of time should be spent on prospects or customers who offer larger volume potential.   Less time should be spent on lower volume prospects or customers.

You will categorize your prospects or customers as A, B, and C accounts.  A are major accounts; statistically they number about 15 percent of your accounts and give you 65 percent of your volume.  The following 20 percent of your accounts are B, or minor accounts.   They give you 20 percent of your total sales.  Of the remaining prospects or customers, 65 percent are C, or marginal accounts.   They give you 15 percent of your total sales.  These percentages apply in most industries and are an excellent rule of thumb for determining account classification and setting sales-call frequency.

In most businesses, this simple analysis is rather startling.  You will probably find that a small number of accounts produce the majority of your sales dollars, whereas a majority of your prospects or customers provide you with a small percentage of your sales.  The classic statement that “80 percent of your business comes from 20 percent of your customers” is refined somewhat in the three account classification – A.B.C.

A good exercise would be to go through your database of clients and categorise them as

A, B or C.  By understanding this you can then manage your time more effectively and look after the 20% of your clients who are indeed giving you 80% of your income and more importantly retain these very valuable clients through regular call cycles.

I will look at the second key area which is growth in my next article.

Quote of the Week:
“Sales is a contact sport”
Brett Burgess

Brett Burgess is a Sales Trainer and Programme Developer for Sales Impact Group.

Filed under: Sales Techniques and Strategy, , , , , ,


Simple Sales Tracking is web-based sales CRM software for the tracking, analysis and forecasting of individual and team sales pipeline and contacts.

Built with simplicity at its core, focus is kept on key sales tasks, while eliminating unnecessary ones, helping to ensure buy-in of the entire sales team.
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