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Source/Particulars of a Specific Sales Statistic

Hello, can someone help me locate the source of a popular sales statistic? Thank you. ;sm

I am looking for the source of a famous sales statistic - "81% of sales are closes on or after the 5th sales call."

This statistic is most frequently attributed to McGraw-Hill but is also attributed to Sales and Marketing Management magazine, the National Sales Executives Club and Cahners.

There are many permutations of the results from the study/survey.* You can find references to it all over the internet.*

The numbers in the study vary a bit as well so be careful about using that 80% figure.* One book I have by Don Schrello mentions all of the above sources in passing and uses an 81% figure but does not give any more specifics.

I need the particulars of the study or survey including the date it was done, who was surveyed, the size of the sampling, etc. and a link or way to obtain the actual source. - by jalg.gali2
That "statistic" is absurd and, in my opinion, chasing its source would be an unproductive use of time.

It would be impossible to gather the information to arrive at such a specific percentage.

A fabricated statistic like that is probably intended to promote the value of persistence. However closing is a Progression of Consent, and often--particularly in account management forms of selling--the progression takes place over several meetings. That is not "persistence"--it's doing your job. - by Gary A Boye
I agree. Chasing this particular statistic is a waste of valuable time. There are many variables that affect your performance as a salesperson, not least of which is are you helping the prospect to come to a decision? Your time would be better spent working with your prospects and actually doing your job than searching for statistics to support whether you are being effective or not.

The bottom line is, well the bottom line. If you are helping your customers and making a profit you are successful, if you are not then you have your answer. - by Julian
I cannot agree that "chasing this particular statistic is a waste of valuable time" for jalg.gali2 because I do not yet know the nature of his/her query. It appears to me, based on the quote below...
I need the particulars of the study or survey including the date it was done, who was surveyed, the size of the sampling, etc. and a link or way to obtain the actual source.
... that he/she has a specific use for that data.

In addition, in the context of "prospecting" persistence (i.e.; calling on prospects) can be a game changer. In many sales arenas it would be a major mistake to only call on a prospect once. - by Jeff Blackwell
In addition, in the context of "prospecting" persistence (i.e.; calling on prospects) can be a game changer. In many sales arenas it would be a major mistake to only call on a prospect once.
I agree with that. However, the amount of times a prospect is called upon is not an accurate measure of "persistence." Many sales jobs require several appointments to complete the actual sales process. For instance, "one call closing" would be extremely rare in major account advertising sales with a new prospect. Financial planners with major insurance carriers would often be reprimanded by their managers if attempts were made to wrap up a sale on the first call. Again--this is not persistence--it is performing the correct steps in a process.

Persistence in sales usually refers to second efforts and relentless attempts to get a prospect to reconsider an offer he/she rejected. It also often refers to continuing to pursue an interview with a prospect after failed attempts.

The field of selling is so vastly diversified that it would be impossible, in my opinion, to arrive at a credible statistic such as the one cited in the original post. - by Gary A Boye
An article on The Peer Group site by Clive Price attributed that statistic to a survey conducted at a major trade show (name of trade show not given).

That in my opinion is not reliable. Most trade shows are esoteric in nature. The number of people surveyed during a single event would be insignificant considering the depth and diversity of such a heavily populated profession as selling.

The article by Price was in support of the value of persistence.

jalg.gali2 gave no indication on this thread thus far that he is researching persistence in selling. - by Gary A Boye
By chance I have a book on my desk titled, "Big League Salesmanship" (1955) by Bert H. Schlain which contains the following paragraph:

"Prospecting must also be persistent. A recent survey in one field of selling showed that 80 per cent of all sales are made after the fifth call. It was further revealed that 48 percent of all salesmen calling on new prospects make one call and quit; 25 per cent quit after two calls; 12 percent after three. But ten percent of the salesmen keep selling - and they make 80 per cent of the sales! These figures will vary considerably for different selling fields, but they do point up the value of systematic, methodical, purposeful, and persistent follow-up."

Although it does not identify the source of the survey mentioned it does offer much to consider. - by Jeff Blackwell
By chance I have a book on my desk titled, "Big League Salesmanship" (1955) by Bert H. Schlain which contains the following paragraph:

"Prospecting must also be persistent. A recent survey in one field of selling showed that 80 per cent of all sales are made after the fifth call. It was further revealed that 48 percent of all salesmen calling on new prospects make one call and quit; 25 per cent quit after two calls; 12 percent after three. But ten percent of the salesmen keep selling - and they make 80 per cent of the sales! These figures will vary considerably for different selling fields, but they do point up the value of systematic, methodical, purposeful, and persistent follow-up."

Although it does not identify the source of the survey mentioned it does offer much to consider.


The figures in the Price article are remarkably similar:
When do Sales People Quit?
  • 48% quit after the 1st call
  • 24% quit after the 2nd call
  • 12% quit after the 3rd call
  • 6% quit after the 4th call
  • 10% quit after the 5th call
Number of calls to close a sale:
  • 2% close on the 1st call
  • 3% close on the 2nd call
  • 4% close on the 3rd call
  • 10% close on the 4th call
  • 81% close on the 5th call
It is possible that Price was quoting the results of the same unnamed survey.

My doubts here are conceived experientally. If this survey was conducted among certain segments (my example above of major account advertising or financial planning) the percentages would make more sense. However a vast portion of the sales population at large close sales on the first or second call. Consider businesses that serve the residential market. There would rarely be a reason to go beyond 2 calls. Either you would have the deal or your competitor would--again with two calls or less.

I will say also that a salesperson who was closing 81% of his sales on the first call because of persistence (rather than esoteric requirements of a multi-call process) would hopefully eventually learn what he/she was doing wrong in the previous 4 calls and reap the rewards of effective use of selling time.

The great Frank Bettger made a decision that greatly impacted his earnings positively when, after evalutating his call history, he eliminated all third calls and beyond. He did that after noting dimishing returns from third call and beyond activity. Bettger sold life insurance policies in the days that financial planning was not as instrumental to the process. He was to some extent selling a commodity. In my estimation he was the founder of what is now called system selling. - by Gary A Boye
It is possible that Price was quoting the results of the same unnamed survey.
Gary you might check the article you referrenced against this article from 2003 written by Brian Jeffrey:
http://www.salespractice.com/forums/t-979.html

I have a sneaking suspicion that Brian Jeffrey's 2003 article was plagiarized.

With that being said...

For your reading pleasure I submit the following article from the November 3, 1926 edition of "Advertising and Selling" article which I understand to be out of copyright:

New Letters of Frank Trufax to His Salesmen
A Fictitious Character Writes to a Fictitious Sales Force on Real Problems
By A. Joseph Newman
General Sales Manager, Bayuk Cigars, Inc., Philadelphia

MR. NEWMAN has an original method of assisting his company's distributors. Under the self-explanatory name of Frank Trufax he writes to imaginary salesmen a series of letters in which be discusses very real problems. The demand for his booklets indicates the success of the idea and effectiveness of the letters.

To My Salesmen:

I was looking over the orders the other day and I saw one from a dealer whom we had not been selling for at least a year.

I am not going to tell you why he stopped buying but I am going to tell you that I was tickled pink to see him back on our books once again.

Our little selling-fool, Billy Keepatem, put it over—yes, he did. Hats off to Keepatem, boys!

"Well, Bill, how did you do it?" said I to Bill at first opportunity.

"Nothing wonderful about it, Mr. Trufax," replied Bill. "That dealer sells a lot of stuff and I thought if he was worth going after, he was worth keeping after. I've been calling on him regularly once a week for nine months and—well, I landed him. That's all to it."

Did you get that one pithy phrase Bill pulled: "If he was worth going after, he was worth keeping after?"

Manoman, there's the salient secret of selling success!

If a dealer is worth going after to sell, he is worth keeping after until he is sold.

Let's all shoot that in our arms, boys, because that's doggoned good dope.

And that brings up two interesting queries. Here they are:
1. How many calls do salesmen make before they quit calling?
2. How often does a salesman call before the dealer buvs?

Now, get me right, boys. I didn't personally conduct the investigation to get the answers to these two questions and I don't want to be facetious when I say I didn't get up the dictionary either; but there's where I went to find out if I could get away with that "wicked" word "facetious." It is just as important to know where to find knowledge as it is to have knowledge.

Well, anyway, the investigation was carefully made and here's the findings:

Answering first question,
48.2 salesmen made 1 call and quit
24.4 salesmen made 2 calls and quit
14.7 salesmen made 3 calls and quit
12.7 salesmen made 4 or more calls,

Go over those figures once again, boys, they're intensely interesting. Then clear your mind to get full shock of this body-blow of an answer to the second question:

Sixty per cent of the sales made were on or after the fifth call!

This investigation, of course, proves very little conclusively but it does emphasize this one thing: Eighty-eight per cent of the salesmen "automatically eliminated themselves from consideration of sixty per cent of the business because they quit before the dealer had been brought up to the buying point."

Boys, I don't want you to waste time watering dead plants but I do want you to keep digging around the live ones.

You can never tell when the "No, not today" will change into "Yes, send 'em along."

It may be on the fifth call; it may be on the fiftieth call; but as Billy Keepatem says; "If a dealer is worth going after, he's worth keeping after."

Yours,
Frank Trufax - by Jeff Blackwell
If this survey was conducted among certain segments (my example above of major account advertising or financial planning) the percentages would make more sense.
There is the rub. Applying those numbers in a generic fashion can be very misleading.
The great Frank Bettger made a decision that greatly impacted his earnings positively when, after evalutating his call history, he eliminated all third calls and beyond. He did that after noting dimishing returns from third call and beyond activity. Bettger sold life insurance policies in the days that financial planning was not as instrumental to the process. He was to some extent selling a commodity. In my estimation he was the founder of what is now called system selling.
Frank states in his book that 93 percent of his sales were made on the first (70%) and second (23%) interview however 50 percent of his time was spent going after the other 7 percent.

In Frank's personal selling scenario it made sense to put all of his time in the first and second interviews. - by Jeff Blackwell
Interesting.

Even if all these stats are not cast in concrete, they do reveal some trends.

It's better to establish industry-wise and city-wise stats as well.

Ganesan. - by ezynes
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