Question of the Month: How many times do I have to call to get an appointment?

by Shannon F.

Angry phone call.

The numbers may surprise you, but they’re really true: 80% of sales are made after the 5th through 12th attempt. A common beginner mistake after receiving a leads list is to call each contact once or twice and then let it go; in fact, only 12% of salespeople persist after the third attempt. Unfortunately, one or two calls will barely register with your prospect. Think about how many times you need to be introduced to a particular brand before it immediately comes to your mind when you have a need. (According to an early advertising guide, 20 times is the magic number.)

The Right Attitude

Keep in mind that your prospect is, at best, distracted and, at worst, overcommitted, stressed out, and struggling with a fragmented attention span. Those are merely the realities of the workplace today. In many cases your first call won’t be lucky enough to catch the prospect on a good day. You may be sent straight to voicemail, which is not necessarily a bad thing. You may be hung up on or lied to. It is essential to believe that your prospects need your product or service and that it is your duty to help them improve the way they run their business. Without confidence in the importance of what you have to offer, it can be difficult to make the 5 to twelve – or more – prospecting calls that you need to set an appointment and close the deal.

Is the Internet Replacing Salespeople?

One more reason why prospects may not be taking your calls: it has become so easy to research you and your competition online, allowing your prospect to make a purchasing decision without even talking to you. That means you have to do three things:

  1. Be aware of what information is out there online. You need to know exactly what your prospect is seeing when they research you and your competition.
  2. Be the expert. Are there online claims that you can refute? “Unavailable” information that you can provide? Can you help the prospect reach new conclusions and ultimately improve the way they do business? Prove that you are not so easily replaced by the internet.
  3. Have the confidence it takes to keep making calls. Your prospect NEEDS to talk to you, in spite of how well-informed they think they are.


Need for Speed

Another concern many salespeople have is, “How will I find enough time in the day to make that many calls?” It is critical to take notice of your cold-calling process to see where you can trim any wasted efforts. For example, are you taking call notes by hand and typing them up later instead of inputting them directly into your CRM or, worse, storing your notes in an Excel spreadsheet? Do you scroll through pages of notes to pick out key info each time you make a follow-up call? When performing pre-call research, do you have to toggle between your CRM and your web browser? Do you dial every phone number by hand? All of these extra steps waste time that you don’t have, literally doubling the number of minutes it takes you to make each call. A fast prospect management tool like InsightPRM is essential for today’s inside sales person, who is generally stretched too thin.

The Bottom Line

There’s no getting around the inside salesperson’s new reality: prospects are busier than ever and, due to the ease of internet research, they often don’t want to speak to a salesperson when they have a need. To succeed, you have to have the patience and persistence it takes to make 5 to twelve (or more!) follow-up calls for each lead you have. You also must work smarter, not harder; eliminating unnecessary steps in the cold-calling process is essential to managing your workload and staying sane.


Have a question related to prospecting, sales, or marketing? Email [email protected]. We may address your question in a future blog post.

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