How Many Calls Does it REALLY Take to Have One Conversation?

Devon-McDonald by

Over the holiday break, someone from the portfolio forwarded me an article from July of last year that references data Connect and Sell released regarding their cold calling call-to conversation conversion ratio.

According to their data from 2010 sample, it takes 22 calls to have one legitimate conversation with a prospect.  If that seems like a ridiculously low conversion to you (like it did to me), it’s important to know that the sample only took into consideration teams that were making straight dials — there were no voicemails being left that would lead to returned calls, and no supporting email marketing sent pre or post call attempt.

I decided to look into 3 outbound prospecting teams that I have worked with in the portfolio recently to see if this number was anywhere close to the conversation rate that they had in Q3 of 2011.

The results: the average number of dials that it takes to have one conversation between these 3 teams: 10 (granted these  teams do leave voicemails –which may yield them a returned call– and they also send brief intro/follow up emails.)


So after reviewing this article, and doing a little bit of my own data analysis, here are my thoughts:

Like the article stresses, outbound prospectors need to have a LOT of dials to have an appropriate number of conversations. I think this is a very valid point.  Lead Qualifiers who make 60 or less calls a day and think they are going to get anywhere should know better – this just ain’t going to cut it. Clearly, based on the average, even the lead qual teams in our portfolio should be making about 100 calls a day in order to hit their conversation goals (10/day). Because at the end of the day, appointment/opportunity creation is the most important KPI, and you can’t generate these without having conversations.

On the other hand, I think that 22 dials resulting in only 1 conversation is a HORRIBLE conversion, and any manager should be completely freaked out if this is their team’s track record.

If you have a really poor call to conversation conversation rate, you should do a thorough assessment of your prospecting organization, and see what may be going wrong. These factors may or may not be affecting your affecting your conversion rate:

  • The quality of the lead data (names, titles, phone numbers, etc)
  • The appropriateness of the segments that your outbound prospecting team is calling into
  • The quality of voicemails messages – are they too long, wordy, pitchy?
  • Your team’s approach with gatekeepers — are they pitching to these people, thereby being immediately sent to the decision maker’s mailbox?
  • The model day your team has in place — are the making calls during appropriate time(s) to the particular time zones they are targeting?
  • Do you  have the right team in place — are they competent, using the right messaging, savvy with their calling/lead navigation, and being truthful with their CRM input?

The moral of the story: don’t just assume that if you are having SO few conversations its because that’s “just the way it is — that’s what all cold caller’s experience.” If the conversion rate is anything like 22:1, a piece of your prospecting machine is broken and should be fixed. TRUST ME.  Find where the issue lies, and make the necessary changes to better your conversion rate. ASAP.