Why Your Sales Manager Wants You to Make More Calls

Short answer: Because you aren’t making enough calls.

It’s true that there is a difference between efficiency and effectiveness. It’s also true that way too many sales managers demand efficiency because it’s easier than helping their salespeople improve their effectiveness. But just like all sales problems aren’t efficiency problems that need to be solved with more activity, not all sales problems are effectiveness problems either.

Sometimes the reason your sales manager wants you to make more calls is because you need to make more calls.

You Tried It Your Way

Most of the time sales managers wait far too long to diagnose an efficiency problem. They want to allow the salesperson to do whatever works for them. If the salesperson is effective prospecting their own way, most sales managers want to support them. As long as what they are doing is working.

It’s when the email marketing, the social selling, and the waiting have produced no pipeline to speak of that sales managers start to ratchet up the pressure. When your approach isn’t working, it’s time to try another approach.

How Many Calls Is Enough?

I know a salesperson that can book four or five calls out of ten. She’s just that good. If you were new to sales, watching her would make you believe that prospecting is easy. You might allow yourself to believe that you can make a few calls and wildly succeed too. But you would be wrong.

You need to do whatever amount of prospecting that you need to do to build your pipeline. It’s personal to you. You might need to do much more than someone else, even someone in the same job, in the same company, with the same goals. If you are really effective, you might need to make far fewer calls than your peers. But if you aren’t effective, you just have to grind away and do the work. For now anyway.

Your Sales Manager Is Right . . . Now

Your sales manager is right. The right remedy for what is ailing you is more activity when you aren’t doing enough to give yourself a fighting chance.

But your sales manager doesn’t have to be right forever. Here’s the truth: The more calls you make, the more effective you become. If you make a lot of calls, you get better fast. If you never make the number of calls you need to improve, it will take you forever to build any real competence. Let’s say it takes 1,000 calls to improve one level (whatever that might mean). You can make those calls in a month or two, or you can make those calls in a year or two. But the sooner you make those calls, the sooner you can succeed in sales making fewer calls.

For now, give an increase in activity a chance, and give yourself a fighting chance. Just make more calls.


When is more activity the right answer to low sales numbers and a weak pipeline?

When is it time to give up a prospecting approach that isn’t working and try something new (or old)?

Why can some salespeople produce better results with their peers with less activity?

What’s the fastest way to improve your effectiveness at some task?


The Value of Fear

“I’m not afraid of anything,” goes the boast so often heard from sellers who are trying to impress their manager.

The idea that a top seller is so confident, so cool, so well prepared that they’re not afraid of anyone or anything, including failure, seems to be more prevalent now than in the past.  Maybe I’m just more attuned to it now than I had been.

Whichever it is, I’m hearing it more and more often and most of the time it seems to be coming from young sellers who grew up being told that they not only could do anything they put their minds to but they deserve success because they are the most educated and admirable generation ever.

It seems that the coddling has bleached out all sense of fear and anxiety—and a great deal of hardness and determination—from the up and coming generation of sellers.

And although this isn’t universal, of course, it seems we’ve done them a mighty disservice.

To pervert one of Gordon Gekko’s quotes, “Fear is good.”  Fear is, in fact, the stuff that success is made of.  Fear of failure.  Fear of losing one’s job or status or position or respect.  Fear of disappointing oneself and others.  Fear of not achieving.  Fear of not living out one’s dream.

Fear is more powerful than the lure of success.  It puts more demands on you than the want of things.  Fear is a motivator like no other.  For most of us it isn’t the carrot as much as the stick that is the base motivating factor.

And we have a generation that has been force fed unwarranted success through the elimination of the potential for failure and, thus, the purging of the sense of fear of failure.

I’ve yet to find a highly successful person who doesn’t respect fear—and if you haven’t had the opportunity to taste it in big chunks you can’t respect it.  It is so simple and terrible, yet so powerful.  Don’t allow yourself or your sales team to live with the illusion that success can be acquired without the help of fear.

If you’re a sales leader who has sellers who voice a lack of fear, encourage them to go out and get a really good taste of failure.