I have many conversations with sales managers and CEOs who want to know the answer to the question, “How many cold calls should my salespeople be making each day?” They do not always like the answer I give, which is, “Zero.” Now before everyone goes apoplectic, recall that the question refers to how many they SHOULD be making. The truth is that your salespeople should not be making any cold calls, but they probably HAVE to make many. Let me explain. In the perfect world, your salespeople are using all the tools available to them to connect with likely prospects. Those tools include referrals from clients and prospects, referrals from business partners and identified referral sources, and using LinkedIn and Reachable to enable those requests for introductions. Now add in any marketing that might pull prospective clients to your company and realistically, your salespeople may not need to make any cold calls. Now it does not mean they do not need to make any calls, they just need to use the phone in a different manner. They can use the phone to make more warm calls, and to follow up on introductions made for them.
With the advent of these tools, it allows salespeople to be far more precise in their prospecting efforts and enables them to spend less time mindlessly pounding the phones. We do not live in a perfect world, though, and our salespeople therefore do not always ask, nor receive all the introductions they desire. Therefore, there is probably an element of cold calling that is necessary. Whether it is simply to try and get information to be more precise in their other prospecting efforts, or whether it is to try and secure appointments with interested targeted prospects.
So, the question still remains. “How many cold calls should they be making?” After understanding that it is a necessary evil and not the preferred method of prospecting, then, in this case, the answer is, “It depends.” It depends on how successful they are getting appointments. It depends on how focused and targeted the calling can be on the prospect base. It depends on how successful the salesperson can be at getting to the decision maker. Rather than having to consider all the possible variables and create a one-size-fits-all number of calls that must be made, I suggest focusing on the first appointment. Managers should work through the math of calculating how many first appointments a salesperson needs to close enough business. The math can be simple, and if managers make sure to focus salespeople on the right number of first appointments (and debriefs the calls to make sure they are the right type of appointment) then he/she does not have to care as much about how the salesperson got the appointments. Focus on those first appointments, be diligent in debriefing the appointments, and then forget about setting a quota of cold calls. That will take care of it based on whether or not the salesperson is getting enough introductions.
Read this blog from Dave Kurlan for another perspective on the subject of cold calling.
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