What percentage of prospecting phone calls are successful?
Since I recommend making large numbers of phone calls (commonly but regrettably called “cold” calls) to generate freelance and consulting assignments, I am often asked how many calls should be made to obtain a certain number of sales conversations or even assignments.
The answer: I don’t know.
There is a reason I don’t know.
As background, in determining the ratio of responses to calls made, you start with a fraction. The number on top, the numerator, can be defined as the number of calls answered or returned. The number on the bottom, the denominator, represents the total number of calls made.
First, there are problems with the numerator. How long do you wait until you determine the callback rate? An hour? Till the end of the day? Or the month? A year? Forever? Until well into the next calling campaign?
We hope, sometimes desperately, that our targets will call right back, but in practice, it can take a very long time.
Second, there are problems with the denominator. People invariably call who are not among those just phoned. They are people you have called in the distant past, coworkers at past jobs, relatives, strangers, etc.
As soon as you actually start dialing, new people will call you. However, they will not call you merely because you have thought about phoning or you plan to start next Tuesday. You have to make calls. Eerily, all telephoners experience this phenomenon.
Notice that phoning is the only marketing campaign that we try to hold to statistical standards of success.
In contrast, how many speeches to Rotary and Kiwanis are required to yield a client or even a mere request for information? How many articles postings to article banks? How many names on an email mailing list? How many Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter connections? How many messages sent on Twitter (tweets)?
I confess: it may take a lot of telephone calls to succeed. But I’d love to see how comparable figures for other marketing efforts measure up.
Originally posted 7-17-09