Why Sales is Like Baseball

My first presentation of these test results was a total flop and it was very frustrating. The results showed the impact of adding a regular cold call voicemail program in support of a sales rep (who was also cold calling).  I was excited about the findings that showed- among other things a 50% improvement in responded messages and 33% growth in raw contact rates, but what my audience saw was a weekly total of 14 contacts growing to 18.5 – just a little more than one more contact a day.  She was totally unimpressed with one more contact a day and announced that it wasn’t worth her time. And that was the end of that presentation.

Now I’m smarter and gross up the numbers so nothing smaller than quarterly raw numbers show and put the real focus (where it belongs) on the ROI.  But still, if you want your sales team to get better results, there are some very important lessons to take away from the value of small daily improvements.

Let’s take some of the findings from our inhouse study to help make the point and I hope give you a way to encourage your own sales team of the incredible value of even a small daily improvement.


Like many sales teams, the Boxpilot sales reps also make cold calls -when necessary.  And given that our list of potential customers is pretty extensive we found that a large percentage of each territory was not receiving a personal contact on a regular basis. It was a perfect opportunity to measure the impact of changing that contact rate.

We had some starting metrics and they looked like this:

  1. Live connect rate on rep dialed calls ran from 5-7%
  2. Responses to a voicemail + email message from sales averaged from 1-3% – twice the response rate of  email alone.
  3. Average Marketing campaign response rates ran from 2-4.5%
  4. Regular contact is vital to database quality. Campaign delivery rates fall sharply when contacts are not called. At 90 days results were 25% poorer than monthly contacts and when left unmessaged for over 180 days- many campaigns had less than 40% overall delivery.
  5. When leaving voicemail messages and email follow ups it was realistic to expect an average of 40 contact attempts a day.  When voicemails were not left (as a rule ) the attempts increased by about one third.

For a three month period, 1600 contacts were selected and divided into two groups. The 800 contacts who ended up in group one were added to a monthly messaging program. Each name on the list received guided voicemail and synchronized email campaign messages “from the sales rep” with a message focus on providing interesting, relevant information with a call back request.  The remaining 800 contacts, we’ll call group two.  These 1600 contacts by the way did not represent the full territory count.

Because the contacts in Group One were receiving the monthly “rep” message, the sales rep did not leave another when working through the list, although a previously written email was sent.  The added calls increased the daily average contact rate from 2.8 to 3.7 – a little less than one more conversation a day. Responses to the emails averaged about 1 per week and created 2 additional live conversations a month.

When failing to connect with the contacts in group Two, a voicemail and follow up email was sent by the sales rep – one at a time, and this messaging generated about 4 responses a week, 2 of which turned into another live conversation

The voicemail+email messages left by the sales rep had the same response rates as the voicemail+email messages left in the reps name via the guided voicemail and synchronized email program.

It was also noted that the marketing campaign responses against both group one and two were almost doubled compared to the untouched portion of the sales territory.

So lets compare group one and group two.

Group 1 – Rep cold calling + Campaign messaging-  accounted for an average of 4.2 daily live conversations

Group 2- Rep cold calling only –  accounted for an average of 3.2 daily live conversations

One more sales conversation a day might not sound like much, but this is where the baseball analogy comes back into play.  Do you how many hits separates the #1 all time best batting average from the person who is ranked at #1000?  One in ten at bats. Think of it this way, if you miss the ball 8 out of 10 tries you’re just another guy  but if “You only fail 7 out of 10 tries you could be the greatest hitter in the game.” Ted Williams (#7) said that.

So although one more conversation a day doesn’t sound all that awesome, think of the impact that 20 more conversations in a month or 60 more in a quarter will have…… and just for the record, you ought to know that you can sustain those 800 monthly messages for about a dollar a piece.  Would twenty more sales conversations be worth more than $800.00 in sales to your company? If you doubled the campaign size you could double those metrics and you can do more than that if you choose.

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