Managers: Don’t Expect Your Sales Reps to Try to Make 25 Sales Calls Per Day
I received an email from a reader and, by the time I got done with my response, a column had written itself:
Dear Bill: In your October Printing Impressions article, “How to Improve Your Productivity,” you mention making 10 or more calls per day and that very few people have the time or patience to make a larger number of calls. I have two sales reps that I have making cold calls around their other activities. I ask one to make 25 calls/day and the other to make 50 calls/day. I guess I want to know, what is the burnout stage? Are sales managers still pushing their salespeople to make a high volume of calls on a daily basis, or have times changed? Best regards, Gary
Good morning, Gary … It sure is hard to answer your question when I am opposed to the premise!
Let’s begin with the end in mind: The goal for a sales rep would be to build a book of business and maintain a new business protocol, which includes a steady diet of calls to existing customers as well as seeking out new work from new customers. This is the result of years of work, of course, and a salesperson needs to move from quantity calls to quality calls.
That’s a long-winded way of saying, “You are better off making a lower number of high-value, well-researched sales calls.”
Components of Sales Success
How do we get there? I like to think there are four keys to sales success:
- Make a high-quality, well researched
sales call …
- To the right target market …
- Applying a prospecting process …
- With diligence and persistency.
You need to have the first three in place in order to start a sales job. If a new rep knows who to call on and understands where to look for a way to end the sentence that starts, “The purpose of my call is …” and then has a prospecting process to follow, he/she is ready to roll. The only thing left is to engage.
But before you move on to the question of, “How many calls?” I think it’s important to look at that first bullet point. That is, is the sales rep making a high-quality, well-researched sales call?
I teach printing and signage salespeople to avoid “selling print.” The fastest way to get into a price-based conversation is to call someone and ask about their print needs. The better sales conversation has to do with their business needs, and that can only happen when you’ve done a little research prior to picking up the phone.
This, in my opinion, is the single most important skill a sales rep can have. If I were you, I wouldn’t want my sale people to make 25 sales calls a day if those calls are the, “Need any printing?” kind. I’d rather have them put some time, thought, and energy into how they can help a prospect with their business. This is a high-value sales call to help them reach a higher level contact.
“Print” salespeople, when asked about their job, will talk about providing printed matter of all kinds. I once coached an Indigo press operator turned sales rep, and when I asked him to summarize the purpose of his job, he brilliantly replied, “I help my customers find their customers.” It’s that thinking which leads to a profitable sale.
Getting to that point is the goal. The faster you can get your salespeople away from “selling print” and away from thinking, “The more calls I make the better,” the more successful they will be.
So, to finally answer your question …
I would hire a salesperson, give him/her some initial training, a script, and a list of people to call. Sure, put him/her on the phones for a week with a high daily call count. Track the results and ask the rep how it went. But then spend some time teaching them how to read a customer’s website and come up with a better sales call for week two.
For example, let’s say they want to call on a bank. Together, you go to the bank’s website and see they are offering a low interest rate if you refinance your car loan with them. Now, the rep can call and say, “The purpose of my call is to talk to you about how we can help with that promotion.” This will lead to a sales conversation enabling the rep to find out more about that bank’s target market and goals, and then allow the sales rep to come back with a proposal of print solutions that can help meet those goals.
Research First, Call Second
Next, help the salesperson do the research on, say, 10 prospects per day and give him/her a week of making these higher quality sales calls so that they can compare week one versus week two.
There’s definite value in pushing a new sales rep to make a high-value call count at first, Gary. For one thing, you’ll know if they’ve got the chops to stick with it. Sales is hard, and you don’t want to invest payroll money in someone who’s going to bail after a week on the job.
But you also don’t want a sales rep to bring in quote after quote instead of solution after solution.
Today’s Methods of Communication
The other premise in your question that could be flawed is the phone call itself. This is no longer the best way to reach people. Millennials, Gen X, and Gen Z have no interest in talking (as evidenced in the way my own daughters reject my call and text back, “What do you want?”). They are much more likely to communicate electronically and will absolutely, positively check your company out online before deciding to do business with you. The rules have changed and we must change along with them.
At this point you might be saying to yourself, “I should not have asked!” but I hope this gives some food for thought. Think about the goal of a prospecting call. To me, it is to engage in a sales conversation with a client regarding their business needs. Getting to that point requires a well-researched call, applied with diligence, using the right medium to make the connection.
“And Gary, you didn’t ask, but there is a seismic shift in the sales landscape you should know about. Responsibility for many of the components of the job of sales have shifted from the rep to the company. Your salespeople would be far more successful if you took over two key roles: lead-generation and order entry. Hand your sales reps qualified leads and then take over the minute a job is sold.
That frees the rep up to do the one thing you want him/her to do; the one thing that makes everyone the most money: Sell!
What a concept!
Bill Farquharson is a respected industry expert and highly sought after speaker known for his energetic and entertaining presentations. Bill engages his audiences with wit and wisdom earned as a 40-year print sales veteran while teaching new ideas for solving classic sales challenges. Email him at email@example.com or call (781) 934-7036. Bill’s two books, The 25 Best Print Sales Tips Ever and Who’s Making Money at Digital/Inkjet Printing…and How? as well as information on his new subscription-based website, The Sales Vault, are available at salesvault.pro.