Why “call often” is like “one size fits all” — Not the best fit for any customer

CRM Adoption

We’ve heard “call often!” “call everybody!” and “call until you get an order!” on the sales floor.

Let’s look at whether this approach brings the best ROI, particularly when cost per call is high. Outbound calling direct costs include the rep’s time, mileage and/or telecom utility costs, and indirect overhead costs.

Plus, the opportunity cost of not calling a customer who would have ordered instead.

Calling cycle vs. the customer buying cycle

A “call often” cry doesn’t align with nurturing and facilitating the buying cycle. Even in a transactional sales model, nurturing and accommodating a buying cycle has its role.

Your B2B customer is buying what they need, driven by the demand for their products and services. A company that is larger, expanding faster, and experiencing increased end-consumer demand is simply going to buy more often. But just because they need to buy more often doesn’t mean their need to buy will align with calling them more often.

When we apply an average calling cycle to all customers – which is what a “call everybody, often” mandate does – we aren’t putting the customer’s buying cycle first. The calling cycle doesn’t respect the customer’s buying cycle.

Let’s see how this can adversely affect your sales. Assuming an average two-month buying cycle, take a look at this contact pattern:

Sales Contact Pattern

Clearly, the fallacy of “one size fits all” becomes immediately obvious. “One size fits all” is usually not a good fit, for anything in life.

Also consider the fact that any customer’s buying cycle may change from one order to the next. Reasons for this could be because they:

  • Placed a one-time sizable order because of year-end or seasonal issues
  • Bought a number of items but now must follow-up with other, related products
  • Bought product categories with different replenishment rates
  • Initiated significantly expanded marketing campaigns
  • Had lower-than-anticipated sales

Instead of “call often,” think “call at the right time”

Sales teams that can read each customer’s unique buying cycle, and contact customers at the most opportune time, are typically rewarded with:

  • Higher probability of a sale
  • Higher add-on sales
  • Penetration in more categories
  • Higher margin sales

This is not only valuable to you the seller, but provides better customer service and increased customer loyalty. It’s the proverbial “strike while the iron is hot,” which after all, only makes sense.

Plus, let’s not forget the decreased fatigue for both customer and sales rep from avoiding undesired contact.

How to find the right time to call

Anticipating each customer’s buying cycle requires a good analysis of past data, trending based on current events, relative buying behavior, and sales and marketing stimulus.  Tools like predictive modeling can make this more accurate. Segmenting customers based on their individual buying cycle and developing proper sales contact frequency is a start. We would be even better served if all sales and marketing initiatives revolved around the customer’s buying cycle.

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