B2B Sales, Lead Generation and Marketing Blog

Cold Calling Analysis: How Many No’s to Get a Yes

Posted by Sean O'Neil on Thu, Aug 11, 2011 @ 10:08 AM

Cold Call yes and no!

If you have ever made a cold call before, I am sure you have heard the old adage “It takes many no’s to get to a yes”. Taking that into perspective, I wanted to better understand the actual numbers behind this statement. How many no’s does it really take to get a yes from a prospect?

Defining Yes and No

To start, I decided to take a look at a current campaign for one of our larger customers that had several people assigned. They call across the country and average about 1200 touches per day. The numbers will reflect activity within a 60 day time frame.

Next, we need to determine what exactly a yes is and what is a no? Let’s agree and say a yes is a scheduled qualified appointment with a prospect. Although there are going to be a few reschedules or possibly cancellations, the qualified appointments can be rescheduled at a later time and we are probably looking at an 85% to 95% conversion rate. It will work.

Now the no gets a bit more convoluted. Should we count something as a no when there was no possibility of a yes? What if someone is no longer with the company? What if the company is out of business? At the end of the day, it’s a touch, touches take time and time cost money. Wasting time is what we are trying to avoid.

The Data

Let’s look at it from two angles. We categorize the numbers as “Complete Data” for all of the results that did not result in a Yes.  We will then categorize “Conversation No’s” the ones which were only the result of an actual discussion. All put offs will be considered a no (since we don’t believe that No Interest is forever).

The “Complete Data” of no’s will include:

How many no's to get a yes!
  • Voicemail
  • Email
  • Follow up later
  • Referral to someone else
  • Not with company
  • Company out of business
  • No interest
  • With competitor
  • Not a good fit
  • Existing customer
  • Already found the right person
The “Conversation no’s” will include:
  • Wrong person
  • Referral
  • No Interest
  • Send me info
  • Existing customer
  • Not a good fit
  • With competitor
  • Follow up later
  • No solution fit
The graphs will reflect the scoring based on actual data.

Data to find out how many no's result in yesAs you can see, it takes 118 no’s to get a yes, (if you look at this from a complete touch standpoint).

From a conversation standpoint, it takes almost 8 conversations to get a yes. Seeing that cold calling or B2B lead generation is a numbers game, if you need four qualified appointments per week, you need 32 conversations.

The level of difficulty comes based on the role you are trying to have a conversation with. If you are trying to speak with the CEO, it will be harder to get them on the phone, which equals less conversations and equals less appointments per week. A discussion with a director or manager will result in more conversations. This all seems like common sense but I thought I would take a moment to put some numbers to it.

At the end of the day, to be successful in today’s business to business sales environment, it takes activity level. You truly do get out from what you put in. 

Topics: lead generation, sales, cold calling

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