Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Open Letter to all Sales Managers – Let the 1970’s Go

by David Ramos, Strategy Development.

I focus on writing on topics that provide substance to the readers and my audience is usually sales/sales management professionals.

I hope this one lives up to my standard and I hope my passion doesn’t come across as though I’m crazy like a fellow “WINNER!” that has been in the media a lot lately.

But I just, have to get this off my chest.

I had a sales manager tell me last week that she wants me to help her people increase their ability to generate appointments.

 I said “GREAT!”

She says “I want to work on phone scripts so that I have my people doing teleprospecting days.” I said “you are talking to the wrong guy, because I don’t believe that is the most effective use of your people’s time.”

Her response was “Huh?!”

Have you heard this one my sales brethren and sisters? “If you make five hundred dollars commission per sale and it takes five appointments to get the sale and twenty calls to get an appointment, then each cold call is worth five dollars in your pocket.”

Most reps are taught to make as many contacts (phone, in person, electronic) as possible. We learn early that sales is a “numbers game.” Calls convert to appointments, which convert to sale cycles, and so on until you get to the close.

The problem is this approach is ineffective.

The ideal prospect that Sales Rep #1 is calling today is being inundated with calls from Sales Reps #’s 2 thru 100. Why? It’s a very simple answer, because he is their ideal prospect as well.
I have an idea; Mr. /Mrs. Sales Manager, put your money where your mouth is.

If the adage of “increase your cold calling/dialing activity and increase your income” were true, companies would pay their reps the five dollars per call.

They don’t and they won’t. You know why? Because the equation never works in the real world...for anyone.

The simple fact is that we are paid for sales, not for attempts.

Directing salespeople to make more calls and increase activity is a weak excuse for a sales manager or sales trainer to justify his or her job.

Cold calling is an expensive waste of YOUR time.

Don’t believe me?

IDC conducted a survey first quarter of last year with 213 senior technology buyers, the report, IDC 2010 Customer Experience Survey.

Quotes – Eduardo Conrado, Vice President of Technology and Enterprise Mobile Solutions at Motorola,

“I try to minimize meeting with salespeople. Cold calls are tough. I don’t know how salespeople think they can crack into a business through a cold call or through an e-mail. I only meet with salespeople if they come from a referral I trust, such as another VP of Technology, CIO or someone in my professional network, and only if I have interest in the product of service.”

Still don’t believe me?

In the imaging space of MPS, Document/Content Management sales, the holy grail of contacts is the CIO. Correct?

The CIO Executive Council with CIO Magazine conducted a survey late fall of last year on Smarter Approaches for Vendors.

Here were the CIOs top three things that annoyed them the most…

1. Unsolicited phone calls
2. Reps that lack preparation and knowledge
3. Unsolicited emails (SPAM)

About the author: David Ramos is sales operations consultant for Strategy Development, an industry management consulting and advance sales training firm providing sales, sales management, service & MPS information.  He also instructs a selling skills workshop called “Sell With Success”. You can reach him at


Click to email me.


  1. Oh, now this is too rich! David, in grand fashion, welcome to DOTC! Have you arrived? I don't think an article or two says that, but Greg is spot on in that you are nailing the message...

    While I dare say most don't consider me a born and bread 'sales guy', I was recruited into this industry because I was the ideal target customer for "managed services"... and goodness was I a tough customer to crack.

    Let me just say, that I even as a mid-sized company director, 2 or 3 layers of people screened my calls for me. You almost never got to me unless I wanted to speak with you (and just wait until I put you through my buying process).

    Now, here's the key I show people when selling to (& around) IT... you have to know if you are dealing with profile A or profile B... You and Greg know the answer...

    Ken Stewart

  2. Great article, David. I had fun with this sort of banter around the dinner table at iTEX after you and I spoke last week. If "dialing for dollars" really worked, a certain former boss of mine (you know who I'm talking about) would probably still have a job. The fact of the matter is that decision makers in companies of all sizes (particularly those that are good Managed Services targets) are bombarded with calls from salespeople hawking all sorts of products/solutions/services that promise to help them save money, improve productivity, etc, and they're tired of hearing it unless they are focused on improving that area of their business in which case they will ask their fellow CIO/COO/CFO contacts for a recommendation.

    Does this mean to stop prospecting and wait for your customers to get you into all of your target accounts? Of course not. We still have to make sure the CIO/CFO is aware of our offerings & ability to deliver, but that doesn't mean filling up their voicemail or email inbox. It means getting something in front of them every so often so that when a need arises they may think of us.


    P.S.-- I still haven't gotten my t-shirt from that loud-mouthed orca.