Cold calling still the leading light in new business sales

Real estate agents are not earning enough. Despite the real estate industry having some of the highest income earners in the country only a small number of real estate agents earn over $250,000 per year.With some many offices around the country why are there so few individuals at this level of personal success? Is it really that the way we do business has changed so much that our old ways do not work and we are yet to find our feet in the brave new economy?

A common path to success that has worked for years is cold calling. The question is whether this tried and true approach is still appropriate in today’s web-based sales world. A new study from the Keller Center at Baylor University reaches some interesting conclusions about this important issue.

The details of the study

“134 agents from 10 different geographic areas were divided into two groups. Each group was asked to set aside a different hour each day, for seven days to make cold calls. They used the same script and were asked to record the results of their calls in an on-line form so that the data could be collected in real time. For this study, cold calling was defined as dialing random numbers, from a certain farm area not previously marketed to by the agent. The result was 14 hours of lead generation over 14 days.”

The goal of the study

“The goal was to determine if cold calling as a baseline lead generation activity – cold meaning no experience, no contacts, no database, no marketing, no listings, and no ‘just-solds’ – would generate appointments for agents.”

The Results

71.6 % of all calls failed to reach a live person.
28.4% the agent did connect with a live person with the following results,

  • 14.8 % said they weren’t interested,
  • 2.1 % the agent to call back later.
  • 11.3% agreed to either an appointment or gave a referral
  • It took 208 calls (including all the wrong numbers and no answers)  to get an appointment or referral.

This means for every 60 people the agent actually reached, the agent would either receive a referral or schedule an appointment.

Conclusions from the results

1. If an agent can make 50 calls per hour, speaking with 15 people, it will take them approximately 6 hours to achieve one appointment.

2. Anecdotal evidence of conversion rate suggests a 2-to-1 appointment to closing (listing) ratio. That means for every 12 hours of calls, an agent can expect to achieve 1 listing.

Who can do it?

By the time the sample agents had spent 11 hours cold calling, all 134 had quit calling. Yet the data showed that it takes 12 hours of cold calling to generate a closed deal. In other words, the agents quit one hour short of reaching the 12-hour revenue generating goal.

What does this mean for you and your business?

The conversion ratios from the Baylor study show that 12 hours of cold calling consistently yields one listing. Or if you want to close one listing a week that’s 144 minutes, just on 2 hours, of prospecting a day, 5 days a week.

Is It Worth the Price?

The Baylor study concludes with this important point: “Spending 3 hours a day, cold calling, Monday through Friday can potentially yield $290,063 in total commissions in a year.” This is based on a single listing being worth $4,800 to the agent.

The question it would seem to be; are you willing to work 12 hours a week on the phone to make almost $250,000 personal income.  The answer for most agents is “No.”

But the research from own study of sales ability in Australia is that it is not a question of being willing to cold call but rather; ‘Are you able to Cold Call?’.

The assumption in this study was all sales people are equally able and that they simply  don’t have the inner fortitude. The assumption is if they just showed a bit more backbone or energy or ‘millionaire mindset’ or changed something easy within themselves then they really could do it. They just don’t want to make the extra effort. The assumption is we can change ourselves, or our staff, into effective prospectors with just a little more effort.

So we have focused our attention on hiring staff who want the money in the hope they will want to make the effort. But what if no amount of ‘wanting’ can make the difference when they simple are not suited to it.

As we discussed in a previous article Are your staff to scared to cold call, less than 15 % of people no matter how willing, how well trained or how well managed still CANNOT.

The issue then is not whether cold calling works but whether the individual can cold call. That’s something our Sales IQ Inventory can answer for you and your team.

More on calling:  Are your staff too scared to cold call?

But are your staff too scared to cold call?

Can Sales Managers change sales results in their staff?

I absolutely disagree that managing people differently will yield significantly different performances. They either have it or they don’t and most people who take on sales roles are earnestly trying their best, so bullying them or bribing them with awards, or tricking them with team activities into more sales results does not work.

If there is a sales person who has it in them, but they are still under-performing, then there are a few very different causes and these need to be addressed differently to allow the person to sell more.

1. Lack of skill – Category 1 i.e. the pure Hunters will eventually work it out without training but while they work it out they will make mistakes which cost them sales and your office it’s reputation. The other selling style staff will always need to be taught how best to sell a particular product before they are able to start selling alone. While selling capacity comes naturally to SIP selected people the process needs to be taught for that capacity to translate into skills and therefore sales.

Sales Management Solution:

a. Training in the specific selling techniques that suit your industry and product

b. Time to practice. This varies between industries. As an example in real estate the average learning time to translate knowledge into effective skills is two years

2. Lack of motivation – even with the very best attributed and trained sales people  they need to WANT THE MONEY. Selling takes energy and if you don’t need the money, even if you could make more, you won’t bother to exert themselves to the level required for sustained success. If they don’t want the money they need their own highly demanding reason to succeed and we (as managers and coaches) cannot give them a reason (i.e. externally set goals). It must be something they really want for themselves.

Sales Management Solution:

a. Help them identify real highly personal reasons to excel

3. Lack of available energy – people’s attention is distracted or energy can be consumed by other issues in their life (divorce, illness and even hobbies) that simply don’t leave them enough juice in the tank to fuel their selling activities. Selling cannot be done well by anyone as an afterthought or secondary focus. This is why  so called ‘selling rock stars’ lose their mojo. I’ve heard so many stories of sales people who ‘used’ to be good. If they really were any good but are mediocre or poor now then there must be something in their lives now that is consuming their energy.

Sales Management Solution:

a. Wait for the external issue to be resolved (or very significantly reduced)

b. Help them manage the external issue better. This is a very low yield solution even with a professional Coach or Psychologist.

c. Consider managing them out of the business. Your energy as a manager can be better spent

For more information on Sales Training, check out our blog here

What is a Sales Excellence Business?

My passion in business is all about creating sales excellence for organizations and sales professionals. I do this by helping my clients expand the sales functions within their businesses. My coaching philosophy has always been based on the three part formula: Select. Teach. Expand.


Firstly, I help businesses recruit sales staff who really do have the capacity to sell.

‘Oh no! Not recruitment!’

I can already hear your agony because getting this right in the past has been fraught with danger. But not so for my clients. We have a time and cost effective way of attracting the best candidates your market has to offer and then short-listing them for interview based directly on their selling capacity. So you are only interviewing and choosing from appropriate candidates for your role who can do the job. Importantly the attraction and short-listing of candidates all happens in the cloud, leaving you free to get on with running your business.

If you want to hear what some of our other clients have been saying about our revolutionary new way to recruit go to:


The second way we help businesses achieve sales excellence is to help their sales staff realize their personal sales capacity by teaching selling. Starting with understanding the psychology of buying we continue by coaching them through their own professional road blocks by instilling self organization, territory analysis and sales planning.

You can read about my sales training here.

I have been providing sale coaching as a job since 1992 (when I was a sales trainer) to help sales people through the learning curve of selling to work at a level of their personal best. When I registered my business, Corporate Coach Australia, in 1994 it was the only business in Australia to be consciously providing coaching services of any kind to the business sector.


Finally we teach sales staff to manage their energy and emotions. I know teaching sales process has gone out of fashion and everyone is focused on the internal game. But consider this: if you don’t know what you are supposed to be doing and you are totally disorganized and behind schedule then you should feel lousy. No amount of positive attitude will help if you have missed doing the first two parts properly. Most sales people don’t understand how buyers make choices or how to build trust during selling.

To combat this, I take people through knowing what to do (training) through creating systems that support their activity to consistently working at their peak level through on-going coaching and occasional nagging.

The Future

If you need sales staff who really can sell or are wanting to improve your or your teams sales performance, let’s talk. Call me, Maya Saric, on 0407 005 290

For more articles: find out Why sales staff who ‘hit the ground running’ are bad for your business 

Sales staff who can ‘Hit The Ground Running’ are bad for your business

staff running

There is a belief in the corporate sales world that to hire sales staff who are capable of “hitting the ground running” is a good idea. I’d like to suggest that it’s bad for your business.  Having staff who, the moment they turn up or really soon thereafter, are out there doing their thing without you and without any clear directions, training or preparation is actually detrimental.  Why is this? Well consider this, staff that are capable of ‘hitting the ground running’, without pre-existing product knowledge are also usually capable of creating or choosing outcome.

es that are not in your company’s best interest, because it ‘seemed like a good idea at the time’ and they have the confidence to act alone.

To have the courage to perform alone in an environment where you don’t have all the facts and you don’t have all the answers and you haven’t rehearsed or seen in action the practicalities and details of various alternatives, means that you’re going to go with what seems like a good idea on the day.  The sales rep who is capable of picking up the phone, ‘having a go’ and has good energy for prospecting and creating new opportunities, needs to be well armed before they start.

If you’ve managed to hire such a person, that person is precious and rare, and there are very few of them in the world as a percentage.  If you have one, you need to prepare them.  They need to have the entire product knowledge ready at their disposal.  So, spend a month or two, or depending upon the technical complexity of your product, 3 to 4 months, training that person, teaching that person, having them sit quietly on the corner of another person’s sales call learning; what sort of answers to give, what sort of questions that they will need to ask, and sorts of answers that other reps who do know the product and who have had correct industry experience in your products, will come up with. Don’t leave your company’s sales success resting on what the new person with enthusiasm and energy, bravery and courage is capable of thinking up on the spot.

Sales people who are capable of going out and prospecting, winging it and improvising, are great for new business roles.  They are the sort that every company wants and I encourage you to use the Sales Inventory Profile (SIP) recruitment process to locate yourself some of those people.  But I don’t encourage you to set them free without product knowledge and practise because the ramifications of that is that they will make way more mistakes as they will engage in way more opportunities than the other sorts of reps who need more help and haven’t started without the training.  Sales staff that can’t possibly start without preparation will do very little for you in the first 6 months, but they will do it correctly and precisely later on.

The net effect might be marginally better for the new business style person in terms of closed business, but the bloodshed, for both your clients and for them, could be huge.  If these are prospects and not existing clients, you might never know what the ramifications for the prospects were and by the time anybody else thinks to call on them, if you’re lucky, it would be well and truly forgotten.

The greatest damage to your firm is the effect on your new sales person, as they are much scarcer than prospects in most industries.

The consequences for your sales person who is being demoralised and defeated and denied success regularly at the beginning of their career with you, could be huge in terms of their energy to persist and stay in your business. If you lose this person you haven’t just lost 2 or 5 or even 20 sales in the early stages, but have lost 5 years of on-target sales.

Your new person isn’t going to say “Well, I am an awful sales person and therefore, I should stop selling.”  They are going to say “This product is useless” or “My manager is useless.” Or even worse “My company is useless.” They will be saying to this to themselves to make themselves feel better and to everyone who will listen.  Not only might they give up early on and find themselves a new job, and you have lost somebody really good, but they will project that negative energy during their sales calls before they leave you and long after when talking to others about their old job.

There is a period between when they are all enthusiastic, they are willing to do the job, they are happy to go out, make new clients and they have no fear…all before that point of dissolution and defeat.  So, you need to catch them while they are still fresh and enthusiastic and keen, and teach them well. Teach them about your product, teach them about your industry, teach them the subtleties of closing your sale so that they make only a few mistakes, close a lot of business for you, and feel fabulous about themselves.

So if you think you’re up for having new business reps who really can sell, who really can prospect, who really can hustle, I’d like to encourage you to contact me, Maya Saric at Corporate Coach (0407 005 290) and use the Sales Inventory Profile (SIP) system to recruit some of those people for your team.

For more articles on sales staff and training: Why your receptionist may be your next sales star…

When your idea just wont give up on you

What do you think when you hear the word ‘entrepreneur’?

It’s phrase often used to describe a start-up business person. The defines it simply as:

“a person who organizes and manages any enterprise, especially a business, usually with considerable initiative and risk.”

But why is it some people take the risk and use their initiative?

Avis Mulhum, born in Ireland, citizen of the world and currently resident of Sydney has made money from the recruitment industry while she follows her passion and a half idea to launch an internet business. Describing what fuels her (including keeping her working on her idea following a serious illness) she said:

“I think the only thing that kept me going was the fact that I knew that I didn’t have that standard boring dull hamster wheel of a life to go back to … I think being an entrepreneur means that you persevere no matter what happens.”

Read more by following this shortened link:

Whether it is destiny or basic psychological obsession, there is a group of individuals amongst us who are so possessed by an idea that they do persist no matter what  to see their idea come to commercial reality.

That is what an entrepreneur is for me. Someone who is almost possessed by their dream that no matter what life throws at them they persist. Their idea drives them forward, in spite of great personal sacrifice.

Get started: What is a Sales Excellence Business?


Get started – what is a sales excellence business?