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Richard Erschik's Articles

The 7-Barriers to Success in Cold Calling, Sales Lead Contact,
Follow-Up, and Conversion to Sales after a Tradeshow


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1. The average cost of a personal sales call across all industries = $329              

2. The average number of sales calls necessary to close a sale = 5.1

3. The average number of sales people customers see weekly = 1.8

This means 100 that names (or raw sales leads) require $32,900.00 in personal sales call cost, 510 sales calls to close the sales, and 56 weeks of time to get in front of the customers. Is it any wonder why sales people pay little attention to names/leads?


Instead of making a “personal" sales call, you may be asking, why don’t good sales people use other means of communication to make initial contact?


The business communication technologies we use today (phone, fax, and email) make it easy for us to communicate, once a relationship is established. Unfortunately, however, these same technologies make it hard for sales people to make the initial contact necessary to establish a relationship. After all, how can they establish a relationship with someone who won’t take their phone calls or read their faxes and emails?


4. Automated telephone answering systems and personal voicemail act as frustrating barriers to contact. Worse, the statistics from actually having made more than 1,600,000 outbound telephone calls, to qualify more than 400,000 sales leads, for 187 individual companies, in 24 different industries, identified that it required 3.4 telephone-dialing attempts to reach anyone for anything. And, it took 7.6 telephone-dialing attempts to reach and identify a prospect that had an immediate or near future intention to purchase the product or service they inquired about.


Therefore, consider that 100 names—or raw sales leads—will require 760 telephone-dialing attempts, just to find the small percentage of immediate or near future prospects that exist in them. Undoubtedly, a fruitless task from which sales people quickly burn out and eventually develop call reluctance and a highly negative perception about the value of a fruitless task.

There is little time to follow-up on fresh leads. Sales people have existing customer relationships to maintain and should not be expected to waste their valuable time “dialing-for-dollars.”

When sales people have no choice other than to make telephone calls, the calls should be made with the understanding and expectation that most of them will go unanswered. So the message left on answering machines has become critical.

The message left on voicemail should include a teasing and compelling offer, so recipients will want to respond. In fact, the calls that are not answered today have become far more important and valuable than those that are. People actually watch their telephone ring and decide which calls they want to answer, based on caller I.D. So every message should contain a compelling offer.

5. Blast-Fax, Fax-on-Demand, Mass-Fax and other forms of outbound (solicitation type) fax communication were outlawed by the U.S. government in 2006. Written permission is now required from recipients prior to faxing.

6. The CAN-SPAM act estimates that 87% of emails are SPAM. Everyone knows from personal experience what has happened to email and why it is fruitless to consider email as a form of initial communication after a tradeshow.

To further validate the point about email… What do you do with the emails you don’t immediately recognize? If you answered DELETE, you aren’t alone.

7. Call Reluctance

WARNING: Sales professionals should be extremely cautious with this subject matter. Reading about it and/or acquiring the education about the symptoms can develop into the actual problem. If you are a sales person, it may actually be better not to know if you have the symptoms.

So if sales people can’t make personal sales calls, and they can’t phone, fax, or email, and/or they suffer from preoccupation or call reluctance, how are they supposed to make the initial contact necessary to make appointments for sales lead follow-up?

The short answer is, "Sales people shouldn’t have to.” Times have changed. Today it’s the role of marketing to do the lead generation and qualifying for the sales force.

The longer answer is…”What was old is new again.” Interactive direct-mail that, a) includes a means for recipients to self-qualify, b) is uniquely delivered to the masses in a way that invites them to open it, c) includes a simple and rewarding call-to-action that addresses the recipients’ WIIFM (What's In It For Me), works again today. Let's just simply say that it’s time to stop sending lists of names and raw leads to the sales force faster, where we all know nothing gets done with them sooner. DIRECT MAIL WORKS…AGAIN!

The younger generation of marketers and MBA’s have no history, and haven't been doing things wrong long enough to know what doesn’t work.

But they are learning quickly. It's time to give serious consideration to going back to the future and developing a marketing process that gives sales people only qualified leads to follow-up.

There is no better source of qualified leads, than in CRM’s and the databases of names that have already resulted from companies’ expensive advertising and trade shows. They haven't been followed-up and contain orders and valuable marketing data.

Work with those names first, before you waste a lot more money generating more names of prospects/suspects that are impossible for sales to contact.