Mark LaRosa’s answer to Do all great startup salespeople make a certain number of outbound calls and emails a day?Tweet
In an established company with an established product, you can count outbound calls, and you can require minimum amounts of calls, because you have a defined product, a defined market, a defined price, and a well-defined pitch. When all of those are in place, then you can very easily dictate that it is simply a numbers game – and you insist on driving as many calls as possible to get the required results. It will be well defined, that 100 calls leads to 10 sales, or something like that.
In a start-up, the dialing is about learning, so that you can get to the defined pitch, the defined price, the defined market and the defined product. If you force a number of calls, then its possible you aren't listening enough and learning enough, and rather than using those calls to learn, you are just feeling good about driving thru a number of calls – for which you can pat yourself on the back and say "well at least I made 100 calls today". I say… who cares if you made 100 calls if you didn't learn anything about how you are going convert more of them. This is critical in a start-up. Slow start so that you can crush the numbers later on.
So, indeed you need to have every start-up sales person dialing, but its ridiculous to try to grab metrics around # of calls in the initial phases when you still don't know if you have a repeatable sale. If it were my start-up, and the sales person made 4 calls in a day, and came back with 4 very useful lessons about how, when and for what amount people would buy and no sales, I would take that over someone that blasted thru 100 leads and gave me 1 sale – but no lessons.
As you get further along, you also need to take pause in using dialing metrics to judge salespeople. I worked in one situation where I had two salespeople who worked for me. One salesperson was a machine gun. He pounded thru a lead list and dialed like mad until he made sales. The other person was an elephant hunter. He researched each and every client he was about to call, and carefully prepared each pitch. The results were that while the second guy made significantly fewer calls, the actual cash in the bank was nearly equal. Results are what matter in a start-up and really in any company. If a person makes 10,000 calls and no sales and another person makes 10 calls and 9 sales – which salesperson will you keep? If you answered the second guy, then ask yourself why you are focused so much on call metrics.
The bottom line in a start-up… hire good people and let the comp plan and results dictate your metrics – not some arbitrary number of calls.