Sales Q&A #30 – Getting an appointment

Q. Dave, I’ve tried for months to see a prospect account, but can’t get them to return my calls. When is it best to just give up?

A. There is a question we have all asked at one time or another. As usual, there is no simple answer. Let’s explore this.

First, let’s decide whether or not the potential of the account is worth some extraordinary measures and additional investment of your time. Is the potential dollar volume substantial? Is it just an ordinary account? Is it smaller than most?

If it is a small account, I’d say give up and move on right now. It probably is not worth your effort. If, however, the potential is substantial, then that impacts your strategy. So, determine that first.

Now, let’s assume that you have researched the account and decided that the potential is definitely worth some extraordinary efforts from you. Before you give up, try some of these proven tactics. Here are a series of possibilities. Use any or all that appeal to you.

1. Make the appointment.

On your next voice mail, say something like this: “I’ll be in your area next Thursday and would like to see you for about 15 minutes around 4 PM. Unless I hear otherwise, I’ll see you then.” I know that’s a little gutsy, but I have known sales people who claim it consistently works for them.

2. Examine your voice mail message and revise it to make it more appealing.

I just had a sales person tell me he says, “I’d like to talk to you about my company and my product.” That’s probably the worst voice mail message I have ever heard. To be effective, your voice mail should contain these elements:

a. a reference to other companies very similar to his (and maybe known by him) with which you have worked.

b. a couple points of pain (problems) that his company may have that you can help resolve.

c. a request for a specific period of time (15 minutes) to discuss it.

3. Think about using a “pre-call touch” to condition him to accept your call.

This is a delivery that you make to the prospect that gets through to him, makes a positive impression, and increases the likelihood that he will return your call. I just received a good example. The Fed Ex guy came directly into my office a couple of weeks ago, put a box on my desk and asked me to sign for it. I did. Then, I did what everyone else would do with a Fed Ex package – I opened it. Inside was a hand-written invitation to attend a Webinar, with a bottle of Coke, and a package of micro-wave popcorn. The invitation indicated that my company met their profile for the kind of business they could help the most, and that they would like me to relax, enjoy the coke and popcorn, and watch the Webinar.

Pretty well done. Got through to me, showed me that they had researched my business, invested in me, and got my attention. As it turned out, I had a prior commitment, otherwise, I would have taken them up on their offer.

That’s a good example of a “pre-call touch.” You can do something similar. Spend some time thinking about it. Ask yourself, “What can I have delivered that will get through to the individual, make a positive impression, and condition him to be more receptive to my call?”

4. Try to have someone introduce you.

Scan your customer base. Is there anyone who knows this person? Ask your good customers. If you find one, then plead your case to that customer, and humbly ask for his/her help. Would he call the prospect/write a note/send an e-mail recommending you to the prospect? If so, follow up with an immediate phone call or two, and see if that doesn’t break the ice.

5. Try to meet them outside of the office.

If there is a trade show, or local meeting of an affiliation group of some kind (chamber of commerce, trade association), show up there, and see if the person you want to meet is in attendance. If so, introduce yourself.

Now, if all of these things still don’t work, then back off for a while, give it a few months, and start all over again. You can be sure of this: Somewhere, sometime, something will change. Your job is to be there when it does.

Good luck.

Copyright MMXIV by Dave Kahle

All rights reserved

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About the author:

Dave Kahle is one of the world’s leading sales authorities. He’s written ten books, presented in 47 states and ten countries, and has helped enrich tens of thousands of sales people and transform hundreds of sales organizations. Check out our Sales Resource Center for 455 sales training programs for every salesperson at every level. To connect to the Sales Resource Center use this link:

It’s Not About CRM. It’s About What CRM Can Do for You.

For some strange reason CRM has become a term associated with technology, but CRM has very little to do with technology. CRM is a business strategy plain and simple. It’s all about streamlining the front office business processes that impact sales execution and customer service. It’s a management decision and a commitment to improving how you market, sell and provide service to your customers. The goal of implementing a CRM solution is to realize measurable results such as an increase in sales, improved profitability and happier customers. This does not happen by itself and anyone foolish enough to believe that simply purchasing and implementing a CRM solution is going to deliver these results is well, just foolish.

Side Pose Of Angry Male Striking Monitor With Hammer by imagerymajestic ID-100117350

Businesses today are spending an incredible amount of time and money to find the right CRM solution for their business based on an evaluation of the product’s features and functions (i.e. technology). The problem is that they have not made a commitment to implementing a business strategy that supports their business objectives. The title of this article says it best. It’s not about CRM; it’s about what CRM can do for your business.

I look at CRM software as a tool, a hammer if you will. The hammer by itself does nothing, but in the hands of a well-trained carpenter great things can happen. So before deciding on any CRM system take a moment to ask yourself the following questions:

Pyramid With Up Arrows And Copyspace Showing Growth Or Progress by Stuart Miles ID-100178760

  • What changes do we need to make in our business?
  • Do we have a plan to implement these changes?
  • Who will be leading this effort?
  • What training will be required?
  • How will we measure results?

Once you have these answered go out and look for a CRM solution provider that can deliver the functionality, training and service required to ensure that you meet and hopefully exceed your business objectives. You will be amazed what CRM can do for you.

Image “Side Pose Of Angry Male Striking Monitor With Hammer” courtesy of imagerymajestic/

Image “Pyramid … Showing Growth Or Progress” courtesy of Stuart Miles/

Best Practice #10 – Makes good use of tools provided by the company

A best practice for salespeople by Dave Kahle.

I just rode with two sales people for one of my clients. One of them went off with only the address of the company in his head. He took nothing into the sales call, and took no notes afterward. The other had looked up each call in the company’s CRM system, and had printed the records to take with him. He approached each sales call with a folder in which he had the printed record and some literature. Immediately after the sales call, he made notes on the document, and would enter it into the computer when he was finished for the day.

Guess which one produces more? You know, of course, that the second sales person produces about twice as much as the first.

I am absolutely befuddled by some sales people. Here is a simple, easy-to-implement best practice. Why aren’t you doing it?

It is as if some sales people strive to be unorganized, slovenly and mediocre. If your company has created tools for you to use, USE THEM!!

The best sales people have briefcases jammed full of the literature and samples that the company has created. Mediocre sales people often go into a sales call with nothing in their hands, or briefcases loaded with next to nothing. In addition to sales literature, “tools” include presentations, forms, and electronic tools like software and computers of every variety.

Superstars view all of this as effective complements to their skills. Their company literature presents their case in a written or electronic format that can complement their verbal presentation. Video and PowerPoint™ presentations portray the product/service in a more compelling way than the sales person can do alone. Forms help organize thoughts and require detailed thinking. Electronic tools like CRM systems, smart phones and tablets help organize the sales call, and provide a way to automate routine tasks.

Mediocre sales people see all these things as encumbrances: More “busy work,” or someone telling them how to do their job, or, worse yet, potential accountability. The real issue underneath these excuses is their fear of, and inability to, change in positive ways and become more effective at their jobs. It is just easier to complain and find fault with the latest software tool that the company wants you to use, than it is to actually take the time to learn it.

Taking the time to learn the new thing, to make use of the latest tool, implies that you may not have been doing this the best way possible in the past. That implies that you can, and should, improve. It’s that implication that motivates most mediocre sales people to reject the company-provided tools. To accept them is to give tacit acceptance to the idea that they can and should improve. They would rather hide under the radar screen of accountability.

That’s why making good use of the company-provided sales tools is a best practice of the best sales people.


For Sales Managers…

Use this rating scale to assess the extent to which each of your sales people evidence this best practice.


To help your sales people implement this practice…

a. Make an inventory of all the literature, forms, electronics, software, etc. that your company has available as tools for the sales people.

b. At the next sales meeting, review each tool, indicate how it should be used, and the impact it can have.

c. Require the sales staff to begin using them.

d. As you ride with them, audit the contents of their briefcases and files to determine the extent to which they are using the company’s tools.

e. Recommend specific improvements for those who need them.

f. On the next visit, inspect the degree to which they made the improvements you indicated.


About the Author:

Dave Kahle is one of the world’s leading sales authorities. He’s written ten books, presented in 47 states and ten countries, and has helped enrich tens of thousands of sales people and transform hundreds of sales organizations. Sign up for his free weekly Ezine. Check out our Sales Resource Center for 455 sales training programs for every sales person at every level.

You may contact Dave at The DaCo Corporation, PO Box 523, Comstock Park, MI 49321, or

Copyright MMXIV by Dave Kahle

All rights reserved

Sales Q&A #29 – How many sales calls on a customer?

Q. What is the best and ideal number of visits to be done on a current customer on a regular basis to retain his loyalty?

A. Here I go again. It depends.

So many questions in the world of professional sales are answered by that phrase.

It depends on how detailed is your product line. The more complex and difficult it is for the customer to decipher, the more visits by you. The more simple the product line, the fewer the visits.

It depends on how active your competitors are in the account. The more active, the more visits. The less active, the fewer visits.

It depends on the relationship the customer has with your colleagues and inside people. The broader and deeper the relationship, the fewer visits are necessary on your part. If the customer knows no one he/she can rely upon in your company, the more you have to be there.

We could go on and on with these variables. But, probably the biggest is the economic equation. You should never invest more time in the account than it is worth.

Time And Money Burden by jesadaphorn ID-100224551

Here’s a way to understand this. Start out by calculating what it costs your company for you to make one live, outside sales call. A simple way to do this is to take your gross wages then add about 30 percent more to it to account for fringes, taxes, expense reimbursements, etc. For an example, let’s say that you made $5,000 last month. Add 30 percent, and you probably cost the company $6,500.

Now, how many sales calls did you make in that same period of time? I mean real sales calls, where you uncovered an opportunity, and/or presented a solution – not those where you just stopped by to say hello because you happened to be in the area.

For our example, let’s say that you made two of those a day, for 20 selling days last month. Do the math. Divide the $6,500 by 40 calls and you have an average cost per call of $163.00.

Now, the number that we are after is the ratio of what it costs to what you get in return. Remember that we are working with general rules of thumb here, so that there is room for error on both sides of this equation. With that as preface, I generally believe that you can not cost the company more than 25% of the gross profit if you want to be profitable to your company. In other words, if you get a sale that brings in $1,000 of gross profit, you should not have invested more than $250.00 in your costs.

Let’s use this understanding, now, to determine how many calls to make on a customer. The first question is, “How much gross profit does this customer produce per year?”

Let’s say the answer is $10,000. OK, what is 25% of that? $2,500. And, if you cost the company $163 per sales call, how many sales calls can you afford to make? ($2,500 divided by $163 = fifteen). Easy. Simple. Economically defendable.

Let’s review the process to make sure you can use this for every customer.

  1. Calculate your cost per sales call. (Total costs divided by total sales calls)
  2. Calculate the expected gross profit from the customer.
  3. Divide the gross profit by the average cost per sales call.

Bingo. That’s the economic calculation.

As you may have inferred by reading this, there is a lot more to be said about this approach to making decisions about your sales time. If you want to dig deeper, I’d recommend Chapter Six of my book, 11 Secrets of Time Management for Sales People.

I expect to have lots of comments and questions on this one, as it is a way of looking at sales that few salespeople and sales managers have encountered before. Feel free to email your questions and comments to Fire away.



Dave Kahle is one of the world’s leading sales authorities. He’s written ten books, presented in 47 states and ten countries, and has helped enrich tens of thousands of sales people and transform hundreds of sales organizations. Sign up for his free weekly Ezine. Check out our Sales Resource Center for 455 sales training programs for every sales person at every level. You may contact Dave at Kahle Way® Sales Systems, 800-331-1287, or

Copyright MMXIII by Dave Kahle

All rights reserved

Image courtesy of jesadaphorn at