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How Long Does It Take to Make 1,000 Sales Calls?

We’ve been discussing that despite both seen and unseen challenges the latest data shows that there is a clear path to navigating both sets of obstacles that brings the greatest success.

What sales professionals are often surprised to discover is that they are not focusing on the highest leverage points in their prospecting efforts and that by making relatively minor adjustments to their prospecting efforts – by making it more tactical – they can increase their effectiveness many times over.

The Four Areas of High Leverage in Sales

These minor adjustments fall into four main areas:

  • Market
  • Message
  • Medium
  • Motivation

This week we turn our attention to area of Medium – that is, the channels we will use to engage our target market.

We know who our ideal clients are (Market), and we’ve crafted our high-impact message (Message).  So the big question now is, how are we going to deliver that message to them?  And I have to say, as a manager, this is where I see a huge percentage of salespeople fail.

The Science of Engagement Channels

Which channels are the best for engaging my market of prospective clients?  That is the question of channel selection.  As sales professionals, time is the only asset we have.  We convert our time into sales so it is critical that we are investing our time in the most productive areas.  And in order to do this, we need to invest some thought into the dynamics of each channel and what kind of return we get for each hour of time invested.

To frame is up for us I’m going to share an experience from my early selling years.

How Much Work is There Here?

I remember when I got my first job as a field rep for a publicly traded company.  I started with a pipeline of zero – it was a brand new territory.  My quota was $2 million dollars.  I was all fired up to do the work.  But, I had just transitioned from an application support position (a demo dolly) to field sales so I had no frame of reference for how I should be allocating my time.

I was asking myself:

  • How many deals do I need to be working?
  • How many leads am I going to need?
  • How many calls should I be making?

I just didn’t know.

So being an analytical type, I chunked it down.

Chunking It Down

My quota was $2 million dollars and the company’s average deal size was $200,000.  So I knew I needed 10 deals to hit quota.

But how many opportunities did I need?  

Well, they told me the company’s close ratio was 33%.  So doing some simple math I figured I needed 30 opportunities.  (Do you know how many opportunities you need to hit your goal?  I’m sure you do.  Let’s keep going.)

So for me, the next question was harder.   I knew I needed 30 opportunities but how many leads did I need?  What was my call conversion rate?

I had no reference.  And neither did anyone else in the company by the way.  So I used 3%.  (Yep, that’s right.  I guessed.  I took a wild guess because we don’t let lack of info paralyze us.  Once we see some results we can always adjust our figures.  But we don’t let uncertainty keep us from moving forward.)

A 3% call conversion rate meant that I’d need to make 1,000 calls.  (30 opportunities divided by 3% equals 1000 attempts.)

How Long Does It Take to Make 1,000 Calls?

Hold on!  Did anyone just drop a load there?  Holy smokes! 1000 calls!  How long is that going to take?

Let me throw it out to you.  For fun, quickly write down how long you think it will take to make 1000 calls.  (Trust me, this 2-second exercise is worth it.  Just jot it down.)

How Long Does it Take to Make 1,000 Calls?

Well, I knew how long it took to make a call.  For me it was 2-3 minutes.

So 1000 calls times 3 minutes each equaled 3000 minutes.

And 3000 minutes divided by 60 minutes equals 50 hours of calls.

So I needed 50 hours of calls to fill my pipeline.

Let’s keep going…

So how long was it going to take me to fill my pipeline?

Well, I wanted that pipeline in 4 weeks.

So, that’s 50 hours divided by 20 business days which equals 2.5 hours a day prospecting.

Wait.   Let me pause for a minute.  –  It was only going to take me two and a half hours a day to build a 6 million dollar pipeline in four weeks. 

Does that surprise you?

I can tell you it surprised me.

And that’s straight-up cold calling.  I’m going to show how you can do way better than this.  But that brings us to a key point:

Key Point – Clarity around activities makes every goal easier.


“Clarity around activities makes every goal easier.”


And right on the heals of the we have another key point:

Key Point – Uncertainty causes paralysis.


“Uncertainty causes paralysis.”


It’s that uncertainty around what’s required – what we actually need to do – that causes hesitation.

So get clarity! 

Was I willing to invest two and a half hours a day to hit my number?

Are you kidding!  I was willing to invest 8 hours a day!

The amount of effort I needed to succeed turned out to be way less than I expected!

Because I chunked it down and got clarity.

Now I’m going to share a tool to help you with this in an upcoming post that will blow your mind.

Let’s get back to Medium…

The Two Components to The Medium Challenge

There are two components to the Medium challenge:

  1. What channels are we going to use to engage prospects?
  2. What are the ideal activities we need to execute in order to achieve our goal?

So Channels and Activities

What Are The Best Channels?

Now, in the real-life example I just gave you I only used one channel – cold calling.  But let me ask you this:  Is cold calling the best channel to reach customers?

Is cold calling the best channel to reach customers?

It isn’t.  Cold calling is not the best channel to reach customers.  (Ya, I just made a bunch of friends and enemies with that statement – keep reading)

But can we succeed with cold calling?

Absolutely.   We can.   I did.   And cold calling should absolutely be part of your mix.

But are there other channels that might perform better than cold calling?


This is what we have been talking about.  As a whole, in sales, we haven’t been focusing on the highest leverage points in our prospecting efforts.  And by making small changes we can make a huge impact our success.  Small changes make a big difference.

Channels & Conversion Rates

We have considerably more channels we can leverage today than the single cold-calling channel I used when I first got into sales.  And so you don’t have to guess what the conversion to opportunities is for each channel – I slaved to uncover these metrics for you so you can get the maximum return on your selling time.  I will be sharing these in an upcoming post and even more details will be given in my upcoming book: Tactical Sales Prospecting.


They key point here is that by getting clarity around the dynamics of each selling channel is important.  We need to understand the conversion rate to opportunities as well as the actual time it takes to complete each activity.

In all my years of selling I have seen many sales plans calculate the activities to needed to achieve goals.  But what I have never seen, is the taking into account the time aspect of those activities.  That is, how long will it take to perform those activities.  And yet, without this time aspect we can never fully optimize our time as sales professionals.  Including the time dimension in your activities will give you clarity in a way that you may have never experienced.  And that clarity will give you a very revealing perspective (as it did for me above) on what it actually takes to succeed.


Prospecting Secret:  Uncertainty creates paralysis and clarity around activities makes every goal easier.


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Until next time!


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