Sales Calls: It’s About Quality, Not Quantity

In my former life, I was first a print buyer and then later became a sales rep for a printing company. I remember one seminar that my sales manager sent me to that taught that print sales is really a numbers game. If you cold call “X” number of companies per day, you’ll get “X” number of jobs to quote on and that will turn into “X” number of sales per month. The theory was that the most important thing that you could do as a sales rep was to cold call as many buying companies as possible. The higher the number, the more successful you will be.

Bruce McCurley submitted a great comment on my last blog entry, It’s Not Cool to “Drop By” Without an Appointment.

He said, “Blame it on the printing company owners. Almost without exception, they require their sales reps to make a minimum of 7 in-person sales calls per day, and if the rep cannot get that many appointments during some days due to scheduling conflicts or otherwise, he or she will have to include some drop-by’s to keep the boss happy whether they produce sales or not.”

While obviously printing sales reps need to proactively seek new leads, sales activity has to change to reflect how printing companies must change their business. Both must become more strategic in their approach to developing new business. Good strategy lies not in the quantity of prospects, but the quality of the prospects and the quality of contact with those individuals. Sales manager and owners need to stop forcing their sales reps to make extraneous sales calls just to satisfy management’s idea of keeping busy. Being busy doesn’t correlate to being successful. If fact, asking sales reps to call on too many print buyers a day can backfire. Resources are wasted and print buyers are offended.

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  • http://SherwinPoorsina Sherwin Poorsina

    The more quality calls you make the more sales you will gain. The key to succesfull calling is qualifying accounts prior to calling on them. Focus on smaller prospect lists at a time. Do not call the yellow pages your account list. 10-15 qualified prospects at any given time is plenty. Move on from calls that did not pan out and replace those prospects with new prospects. Make prospecting a part of your daily routine. Spend more time researching a prospect prior to your call. Sherwin Poorsina

  • http://ElliotThostesen Elliot Thostesen

    Just dropping in only works where the relationship allows it to work and at that "just dropping in" should never be the reason. Either you have new and useful information to provide, an opportunity to make improvements in workflow, cost or quality, a resolution to an open issue with a current project or don’t make the visit unless you were asked by your customer. Every visit needs to be a meaningful visit. Formulas like minimum calls and such mean little to the success of a sales person. Relationships that are built on service, knowledge and trust should be the goal. If an account relationship does not have these characteristics the sales person should spend time developing them.

  • http://BobButkins Bob Butkins

    I banned cold calls 2 years ago. The only permittable cold calls are when you are already out in the field, and it works from a location or convenience factor. In order to convince the Sales Reps, I ran the numbers for them…ie cold calls vs new acct percentages. They were very revealing. The percentage of new accounts to cold calls was less than 2%. So, I told them: Why on earth continue to do the same thing tomorrow that is a failure 98% of the time?<br />
    (A "play" on the olde definition of insanity idea.)In addition, some clients even resent the unannounced cold call, since it assumes they have nothing better to do than sit around for Sales reps who may cold call. I know if someone calls at the plant for me without an appt, unless I have a prior relationship I do not take the time to see them – time is equally precious to me and our clients. We are all wearing too many hats these days to use our time frivolously, and cold calls can be taken as an insult to a busy client.

  • http://RickElwood Rick Elwood

    We also do not cold call. Sometimes providing incentives for customer referrals helps spread the word. Every print buyer knows a few more print buyers.