How low can you go in percentage of sales success

April 4, 2010
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“Jeffrey, I have to make 50 cold calls a week.”

“Why?”

“My boss said I have to. Everyone has to.”

“Why?”

“Because we’re trying to make new contacts and more new sales.”

“Is there a better way to do that than cold calls?”

“I sure hope so.”

“Well, let me give you a clue: There is no worse way.”

The cold call is the lowest percentage sales call, it’s an interruption, it’s a fight, it’s often a lie, it’s maximum sales manipulation, and it’s a rare appointment and a rarer sale. Wanna go from low to lower? Cold calls are made by people who are new to the job and have limited capabilities. Or worse, they are made by seasoned salespeople convinced that “cold calls work; they have made me a lot of money.”

We differ on the definition of the words “a lot.”

“But Jeffrey, you don’t understand. I have to make cold calls; it’s a job requirement,” you whine.

It is not.

Suppose you doubled your sales quota for the month and made more sales than anyone else in the company. If you went to your boss and said, “I didn’t make one cold call,” is your boss going to fire you?

Or is it likely that he could care less? He’ll tell everyone in the company how great you are. In fact, he’ll want to know how you did it. In fact, you may be put in charge of training. In fact, you may be next in line for the boss’s job.

Let’s get the facts straight:

Cold calls are a great supplement. Cold calls are a great place to learn sales skills. But, cold calls are a lousy place to make a sale.


Everyone wants to “make more sales.” And most salespeople have a monthly goal or quota. The question remains: What’s the best way to make that happen?

Answer: Look at the value of your sales call — or, better stated, the “valuable-ness” of your sales call. In other words, which sales call will produce the best results, the most sales, the greatest return on time and money, and be best for building a great relationship and loyal customer?

And oh, by the way, which is the most profitable?

Ranked in order, here are the categories of sales calls — both outgoing and incoming — for your painful pleasure. Be advised: The more valuable they are, the harder you have to work to get them, but the easier they are to make the sale. The fact is, most salespeople won’t do the hard work it takes to make sales easy.

Worst: the cold call.

Almost as bad: an appointment made from a cold call.

Fair: a response from an ad or direct mail or unsolicited e-mail.

Semi-good: an appointment made from a trade show or networking event.

Pretty good: a social media inquiry.

Pretty good: a Web inquiry.

Pretty good: an e-mail blast to your existing customers.

Real good: a referral from another customer or friend.

Real good: an unsolicited referral.

Great: an unsolicited call from a prospect wanting to buy.

Best: an unsolicited call from an existing customer wanting to buy more.

OK, now that you know the types, write the percentages that go with them. No, not the percentage you close. The percentage of each that makes up the type of sales call you make or sales inquiries you receive. You see, if you change the type, you automatically change the percentage.

Eliminate cold calls and concentrate on earned referrals and your sales completion ratio will skyrocket. A hundred cold calls or a hundred referrals? You tell me, Bubba. And while you’re telling me, tell your boss to read this.

“OK, Jeffrey,” you say. “Now that we have established the types and percentages, tell me how to get from the lowest level to the highest level.”

OK, I will … next week. But let me give you a clue — it has more to do with networking, positioning, personal reputation, business reputation, Web presence, social media presence, Google ranking and service than cold calling. Stay tuned …

Free Git-Bit: And if you’re still cold calling between this week and next and want some tips to make them more effective and profitable, go to www.gitomer.com, and enter the words WORST WAY in the GitBit box. Jeffrey Gitomer can be reached at (704) 333-1112 or e-mail salesman@gitomer.com.

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