Adjust prospect list to raise sales success ratio

April 12, 2010
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Where are you on the percentage scale of sales?

How many out of 10 can you close?

Well, Mr. or Mrs. Sales-Big-Shot, forget your percentage. It ain’t all that good anyway. If you want to raise it by 50 percent — you heard me, 50 percent — just change the type of sale you’re making.


The type of sale you make has more to do with why you’re making it, and who you’re making it with, than your fancy, manipulative, pushy closing techniques.

The old sales adage goes: All things being equal, people want to do business with their friends. And to that I respond: All things being not quite so equal, people STILL want to do business with their friends.

Well, let’s look behind that adage.

What are the “types” of sales call you can make? I recently listed them and gave some insight as to why. This week I’m giving you the insight and the reality.

THE lowest percentage: Cold call. Face it, the cold call is diminishing. Voicemail and security have taken away all the fun. Successful penetration is sporadic and there are MUCH better avenues of approach. PLUS, cold calling pisses people off.

Low percentage: Appointed sales call from a cold call. If you are lucky (or good) enough to have made an appointment someplace, this is OK, but still a low percentage based on the lack of qualification as to need. Hard work needed: There’s no real formula for cold call success, but you can be smart about it — calling at the right times, a bit of pre-call research, and a ton of personal preparation in both sales training and category selection.

Fair percentage: A response from an ad or direct mail or an unsolicited e-mail campaign. Better than a cold call, but not by much. Most of these inquiries are about “how much?”

Semi-good percentage: Appointed sales call from a networking event or trade show. At least there has been some contact. You have a name, a card and a person somewhat willing to take your call and make an appointment. Hard work needed: a networking plan and a 30-second personal commercial to qualify the prospect faster. Then there is the networking itself. Invest the time and work the plan. It will pay huge financial and personal dividends.

Pretty good percentage: A social media inquiry. A report card on your presence, or lack thereof. These people are saying, “I follow you and like what you have to say, and I want to know more. This is the new cold call; you just haven’t figured it out yet.

Pretty good percentage: A Web inquiry. Someone asking for more info from your Web site, either on a Web-call or a direct call, is also a report card. It says your site is both interesting and navigable.

Pretty good percentage: An e-mail blast to your existing customers. These are people who have already purchased. You have already established value and built confidence — maybe even some trust.

Good percentage: Proactive call from a prospect. Knows of you, interested and wants more help. Can you convert?

Real good percentage: A referral from another customer. Should be a sale every time.

Real good percentage: An unsolicited referral. Hard work needed to get them; easy to convert once they call.

Highest percentage: Sale or reorder from a present customer. They know you, like you, trust you believe in you and have confidence you’ll deliver. Hard work needed: Service between the sale. Stay in front of with value. Develop a relationship. Build trust through performance. Help the customer build his or her business. Reality: None of this occurs from making a cold call and running to the next.

Author’s note: I know I’m going to get a bunch of e-mails telling me how great you are at cold calling and how cold calling works and how much money you made cold calling.

Great — that was 10 years ago. Wake up and smell the Internet.

Free Git-Bit: If you want both columns (this is part two), go to, and enter the words COLD CALLS in the GitBit box. Jeffrey Gitomer can be reached at (704) 333-1112 or e-mail

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