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  How many appointments or conversations per day or per week should a salesperson make in order to be successful?
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by Dave Kahle
copyright (MMXII)

Personal note from
Dave Kahle
"I hope you enjoy this article. We have lots of resources on this site, ranging from dozens of similar free articles, podcasts, weekly features, books , CDs and video training programs. Enjoy! "

I have no idea. How's that for an answer that you're not expecting?

OK, you know by now that doesn't mean I don't have anything to say to this point. Let me explain my first statement. I have no idea because I don't know the specifics of your selling situation. The definition of a reasonable number of appointments varies tremendously from one situation to another. For example, I have worked with phone salespeople who are expected to have 50 - 60 conversations per day. On the other hand, in one of my personal selling situations, I regularly spent ½ day with one customer. And that one account probably bought more from me than several hundred of the phone sales accounts.

Which really hits to the heart of the issue. The factor that most determines a reasonable number of appointments is the potential dollar value of the sale. Generally, the larger the potential dollar value of the sale, the fewer calls should be made. That's because the nature of the sale requires more in-depth relationships and more involved sales dialogues. Each sales call is more complex, and takes longer. Therefore, you can't make as many.

On the other hand, the smaller the potential dollar value of the sale, the more calls should be made. The phone salespeople, for example, were selling safety videos for about $100.00 each. Because of the relatively small order size, they would need to make many times the number of sales calls that I did. I was selling hospital supplies via 12 month contracts. A typical deal would be worth $20 - 60,000.

So, the first thing to consider as you strive to develop some quantifiable expectations is the potential dollar value of the sale.

The second thing is a variation of that. In order to be profitable to the company, each salesperson's total costs must fall within a certain range. We've done extensive research on this, and I can give you a broad rule-of-thumb.

I believe that, generally speaking, a salesperson's total cost to the company should not exceed 25% of the total gross profit produced by that sales person. For example, let's say that you have a salesperson who makes $50,000. When you add in the cost of expenses, fringes, and taxes, the salesperson actually costs you $68,000. So, if you use the 25% rule-of-thumb, that salesperson should bring in at least $272,000 in gross profit in order to be profitable to you.

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By the way, if you'd like to dig into this issue more deeply, go to my website, click on the links to "sales force compensation, and click on the button that offers a download of How to Kreate Kahle's Kalculation. " That will get you a PDF that describes this calculation in detail.

Armed with this calculation, the next question is, "How many sales calls does this salesperson need to make in order to generate $272,000 of gross profit?"

That will help shed some light on the subject. One caveat -the 25% figure really is a very broad rule-of-thumb. I know of some cases, like sub-reps for independent agents, for example, where the number could be higher. And, for many industries, like wholesale distribution, I advocate a much smaller number, like 13 - 17%.

Another thing to consider is past history. If you've been in business for a while, you should have some sense of how many calls or appointments it takes to be successful. If you haven't tracked that number, it may be a good exercise to track it for all your reps for a couple of months, and then to use that as a guideline.

Having said all of that, let me say one more thing. I don't think the number of calls is an important issue for most salespeople. It does have some application for a new salesperson, to guide that person to an appropriate level of activity.

After that, however, there are other measurements that are more important. More important than the number of sales calls made is the quantity and quality of sales opportunities unearthed. In other words, if you sales person can uncover $1,000,000 worth of viable sales opportunities in five calls a week, more power to him/her. If another makes 25 calls to uncover the $1,000,000, so be it.

Figure out what a viable quantity and quality of opportunities per salesperson is, and track those. It's closer to the mark than calls. The number of calls measures the amount of raw activity your salespeople engage in. The quantity and quality of sales opportunities measures a more significant thing -- the amount of worthwhile activities your salespeople engage in.

If you have any comments or questions, email them to me.
I do, of course, reserve the right to edit.

Here are a few articles by Dave
that you might be interested in reading:

  • What's the Best Way to Find a Good Salesperson... Good question! It seems that everyone has a favorite response. Some people only use recruiters, and others swear by networking. But classified ads continue to be the most common choice. Almost everyone who hires salespeople will, at some time, search for prospects via the "help wanted" section.... {Read More}
  • Is it Time to Revise Your Sales Compensation Plan?... If you're paying your sales reps straight commission, you're using an obsolete formula. If you're paying your sales reps a straight salary, you're also using an obsolete formula. Read this article to find out a much more effective way to compensate your sales staff.... {Read More}
  • How to Deal with the Salesperson Who Has Leveled Off... Every manager has, or will, confront this troublesome issue. It's arisen in every workshop for sales managers or branch managers I've done. One or more of your salespeople has leveled off. Their performance hasn't improved much in the last few years. Where before you were able to count on significant increases each year, now you can not. You know that these experienced salespeople can do better, but they seem unable or unwilling to break out of a certain level of performance. You are scratching your head, frustrated, and loosing sleep at night wondering how to improve the situation. What do you do?... {Read More}
There are also many other action-packed articles for sales professionals that offer how-to solutions to every day sales problems that you can read online at www.davekahle.com/article.htm.
Dave Kahle has trained tens of thousands of B2B salespeople, sales managers and business owners to be more effective in the 21st Century economy. He's authored nine books, and presented in 47 states and seven countries. To access Dave's training, insights and tools online, visit The Sales Resource Center. Visit www.davekahle.com to check out a seminar near you.
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