No more cold calls: Three steps to making informed calls and increasing close rates

No more cold calls: Three steps to making informed calls and increasing close rates
by Flavil Hampsten – May 2013

You are sitting at your desk making sales calls.   But now the computer is missing. A pile of 8 x 5 cards is stacked in front of you. Each card contains only a name, address and phone number.  Sliding your hand into your pocket for your cell phone, you find only lint. You’re moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas. You’ve just crossed over….into the Twilight Zone.

I don’t think any of us want to go back to the times of index cards and no computers.  How successful would be today if all you had was a name and number on a piece of paper?  Luckily for you, those days are over.

Making informed calls

Some organizations only allow salespeople to make informed calls.  Analytics determine which prospects have the best chance to become customers and give these prospects to the salespeople most suitable to close.

How does this happen?

1.  Data Aggregation – Collecting and centrally storing data helps the company and salespeople perform at peak levels in terms of closing ratios.

Are you on the team? This performance is not simply a function of the sales management team, but every salesperson on the floor.   Sales management purchases demographic data and stores it in a system for the salesperson to use.  However, each time the salesperson uncovers something about the prospect, the salesperson should also put that into the system.  Failure to do so will not only hurt the current salesperson but will also hurt the ability of each salesperson who comes after them.

2.  Buyer Behavior Studies – Once you have a set of data points, teams can then look to see if certain set of attributes equate to a better likelihood to close.  A predictive model comes into play when management can link “like” attributes to certain buyers.  For example, one may notice that most buyers of a mini-plan are males between 25-35 years of age, married, have children, and have a discretionary index of 100.   Once that is identified, management can assign similar prospects to the salespeople.

Russell Scibetti
Russell Scibetti

In-depth analysis. Some teams, such as the Charlotte Bobcats and New York Jets have upwards of 50 data points on each person in their system. Russell Scibetti explains, “The ability to aggregate behavioral and demographic data with the insights our staff collects puts us in a position to offer the right product options for any segment of our customer base.”

3.  Seller Behavior Studies – Critical, yet often overlooked, closing rates can determine which salesperson is most appropriate to call the lead. Who should get the web lead? Individual game buyer?

  • Jack closes web leads at a 58% margin and individual game buyers at an 8% rate.
  • Jill closes web leads at 35% and individual game buyers at 18%.

Analyze each lead segment.  Like Jack and Jill, you will usually find a trend for each salesperson.  Feed that salesperson the leads they are most likely to close and you will find that most salespeople will increase their total production. During training periods you can also help individuals improve in less productive segments.


If these three elements are correctly implemented you will have salespeople making informed calls with qualified leads.  This system was implemented two seasons ago in Charlotte we took our closing percentage from .5% to 4%.

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Chris Zeppenfeld
Chris Zeppenfeld

Moving your sales team’s winning percentage from say something like 2.2% to 2.5% may not sound like much on the surface. However, when you multiply that across 30-40 sales reps managing a total of 5,000-7,000 leads as a whole at a given time, that little 0.3% jump in winning percentage equates to about 10-20 more sales you are “winning” per week. If we can even move the needle a tenth of a percentage point better, it can mean hundreds of thousands of dollars to our sales campaign.[/dropshadowbox]

We’re glad we have moved out of the Twilight Zone. We said “goodbye” to cold calls and our customers are saying “hello” to our informed calls.

The Sales Commandments According to This Disciple

The Sales Commandments According to This Disciple
by Carson Heady – April 2013

Sales is a psychology; a profitable sport by which we engage clients, build relationships and seek the perfect balance for the holy sales trinity: customer, company and you.  Without all of these entities in mind, the transaction and stability suffers.

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Rob Kristiniak
Rob Kristiniak

As a sales person you always need to be working on your craft and being innovative. Sometimes that will involve doing things outside of your comfort zone. At the end of the day it’s the innovation and creativity that separates you from the rest of the pack.[/dropshadowbox]That said, there are certain fundamentals we must ingrain in each and every leg of the sales process; without them, our process is defunct and the results will tell that story.  Remember: results do not define us, but they do not lie.  If there is a breakdown in your process, your results will be broken, too.

  1. BE PROACTIVE AND THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX.  A major area of opportunity of many salespeople is their predisposition of wanting to follow the leaders or be like others; fit in, follow the beaten path.  But why be like everyone else?  That makes one average.  Blaze your own trail.  Stand out.  Reach out for more customers; do not just accept the low-hanging, less challenging fruit.  Don’t get me wrong: you pick up every bit of fruit you can find – small or big.  Nevertheless, always think of innovative ways to put yourself in front of new clients.  Like a billboard on a busy freeway, be where your customers are looking and show them why you’re the one they need to pay attention to.  Doing so puts you in position to guide the process.  Not doing so puts the customer in control and your paycheck and career are in their hands.
  2. LISTEN.  Salespeople often ask me how to overcome certain objections, but they fail to realize that if they had set the right foundation they would be using the customers’ own words in the presentation, the close and any necessary overcomes.  Your words and philosophies pale in comparison in the customers’ minds to their own; listen and learn their language so you can speak it.  Find out what you need to know from the customer so you can diagnose their situation; where do the gaps lie?  How can you plug those gaps?  How are you going to make them realize that jettisoning their comfortable, familiar ways of doing business and going with you is going to be better?  You can’t get there unless your ears perk up and you get them doing the talking.[dropshadowbox align=”right” effect=”lifted-both” width=”250px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]
    Linday Beale
    Lindsay Beale

    The most important part of the sales process is to put the customer first by listening. If you ask the right questions they will lead you down a path allowing you to make a recommendation based on what your product can offer them. As you follow-up you that let them know your call is to help them accomplish their goals, not just sell a seat location.[/dropshadowbox]

  3. REACT.  React to everything, and know when to use your information.  You can be the smartest person in the room – great.  However, if you are simply unloading jargon and facts on your potential client, are you showing them why your way of doing business is better?  Knowledge is power, but knowing when and how to use it is even more effective.  Improve your pitch, but perfect your reaction.  If you role play, don’t practice improbable scenarios; get used to setting the right foundation and knowing how to react to every objection your client throws at you.  See objections before they happen and address potential hitches before your customer even can.  You will see many customers, but only a few themes; master those themes and there’s no slipping one by your goalie.
  4. FOLLOW UP.  Unfortunately, no matter how effective a closer you are, the sale will not always happen on your timetable.  Don’t get me wrong: you need to do everything you can to build trust and determine why specifically the customer is not doing business today.  But if they leave the table for a viable reason, you must have an organized, prompt and thorough follow up process in place.  Customers will “browse” or “do research” and finally get tired enough to do business and pay more elsewhere if you do not stay front and center in their universe.  Follow up within 24 hours to a week and reignite the lead.  You cannot win them all, but you can nurture them all to as close to completion as possible.  That’s your job.  If you can look back on every transaction and know you did everything you could to earn the business, you did your job.  Congratulations.
  5. MASTER THE GAME.  There are ups and downs; when you’re up, ride the wave.  When you’re down, make sure you behave – according to process, that is.  You may get the shanks in your golf game or your baseball hitting suffers, but do you drastically change your swing to get back to desired results?  Of course not.  You have to envelop yourself in the process.  You also must learn the playing field – how can you make money where you currently are not?  What best practices are others using?  Steal them shamelessly; those who execute best are the best.

Finally, refresh and recharge often.  You need to make sure you are the person you were on interview day.  Play for the love of the game, the adoration of the crowd and the benefit of the customer and you will be victorious.