Percentage of sales success. How low can you go?

Percentage of sales success. How low can you go?

Written By Jeffrey Gitomer

KING OF SALES, The author of seventeen best-selling books including The Sales Bible, The Little Red Book of Selling, and The Little Gold Book of Yes! Attitude. His live coaching program, Sales Mastery, is available at

Percentage of sales success. How low can you go?

“Jeffrey, I have to make 50 cold calls a week.”
“My boss said I have to. Everyone has to.”
“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, 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

“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. Sheepishly you go to your boss and say: “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 hoist you on his shoulders. 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 practice.
Cold calls are a great place to learn sales skills.
But cold calls are a LOUSY place to make a sale. Let’s go one step further — of all the sales opportunities, options and scenarios, cold calling is worst one.

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 goal happen?

Let’s look at the value of a sales call or better stated the valuable-ness of a sales call. In other words, which sales call will produce the best results, the most sales, the greatest return on time and money, the best for building a great relationship and loyal customer, — and oh by the way — the most profitable.

Ranked in order — here they are for your painful pleasure. But 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.

1. Worst — the cold call.
2. Almost as bad — an appointment made from a cold call.
3. Fair — response from and ad or direct mail.
4. Semi-good — an appointment made from a trade show or networking event.
5. Good — referral from a customer or friend that you had to ask for.
6. Real good — unsolicited referral from a customer or friend (one you didn’t ask for).
7. Great — unsolicited call from a prospect wanting to buy.
7.5 Best — call from an existing customer wanting to buy more.

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

Here’s the self-evaluation formula that will give you the grim reality of where you are vs. where you wanna be. Take your last 100 prospects (if you can’t list them, that’s the first problem). Make a spread sheet. Next to them list how you got them by the numbers above — then sort the list by number. Now put “sold” next to the ones you converted, and voila!

Note how lousy the cold call percentage is, and how incredible the unsolicited referrals are. This isn’t rocket science, it’s just time allocation. Spend the most time working on the areas that bring the most sales. Hello!

Eliminate cold calls and concentrate on referrals and your sales completion ratio will skyrocket. A hundred cold calls or a hundred referrals? You tell me, Bubba. And while your 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, reputation, and service than cold calling. Stay tuned…

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Jeffrey Gitomer, author of The Sales Bible, and Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless. President of Charlotte-based Buy Gitomer, he gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings, and conducts internet training programs on selling and customer service at He can be reached at 704/333-1112 or e-mail to