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Standards for “Appointments Set” from “Cold Call Conversations” in Modern Selling

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Written by Ryan S. Pereus

In my tenure as a sales professional, I have found very little consistent and reliable data from industry-specific or global benchmarks on cold calling results.

Since the sales profession is widely underdeveloped, we, at Superhuman Prospecting (SHP), thought we’d begin tracking and publicly reporting our own data over the past couple of years.  Not only has tracking our metrics been helpful to us for continual improvement, we also have the unique position and privilege to perform cold calling services in a wider range of industries and for a large variety of products and services than many others in sales. 

I regularly research and investigate what other industries are reporting on with sales activities to identify how we might be performing vs others out there. I have been seeing different results individuals have posted, but it was a bit inconclusive if the information was generally agreed upon or not as standard.

So, to survey one of the critical metrics in appointment setting, I recently posted a poll on Linkedin for the sales community. The metric under scrutiny was the appointments set on decision-maker (DM) conversations metric 🤔.

In other words, how many conversations with decision-makers (or stakeholders) does it take to set an appointment? I wanted to know what the sales community thought to be the industry standard for this metric.   I provided 4 options and ran the poll for 3 days. When the results landed, I was astounded and surprised. I couldn’t believe the low number that was accepted as a standard for outbound sales development reps (SDRs).  

Cold Call & appointment Setting Standards

Of the 24 that participated, more than half believed a 5% DM convo/appt setting rate was standard. That is 1 appt set every 20 DM conversations from cold calls.   Here are the results of the poll:

I was so shocked based upon what our standard conversions are currently for our client SDR team, even during a pandemic. When I had posted the poll, I had given the options based upon our own internal standards at SHP. I figured we were at least average to what the community would say, if not a bit higher. If you can see the circle ✔️, this was the metric I chose as a standard (20%, or, 1 appt every 5 DM convos), thinking our team at SHP could do even better and the number I’m about to show you.

Based on what I found out, I think our team should continue to focus on our own standards rather than what is going on from this sample poll from the sales community 😲!

I was not expecting the 5% answer from the poll because I was thinking our team could be pushing the envelope a little more as a cold call service. Either way, see these cold call conversion metrics from the first 10 months of the year in 2020, during a pandemic.

Do you see that metric all the way to the right? Under Appts Set on DM Convos %? It is at 14.09%! That is 1 appointment every 7.10 conversations!!! Almost 3x’s as better as the poll favorite.

Now, let’s jump off our high horse and take these metrics with a grain of salt for a second. Here are a couple things to consider

  1. The poll was only taken 24 people at random from 1st or 2nd Linkedin connections of mine, not 1000s from a Gallup study.
  2. The appointment setting rate on conversations is subject to change based upon the variety or make up of multiple variables including messaging, scripting*, industries, company sizes, and product/market fit.
  3. The diversity in 2. may be favorable or unfavorable to the 5% number depending on the make up of the client campaigns we are running at any given time.

However, from a bird’s eye view 🦉 the cold call service data could be telling, as our question is what other sources share reliable and consistent data based on the diverse set of industries and sub-industries (over 50!) we call in on a quarter to quarter, year to year basis?

Using this data, we can more quickly identify how we are doing on any given campaign. If the unknowns are revealed, even just a little, it can help us determine not only how we are doing, but also shed light on how high we can strive early-on from whatever average or standard we’ve marked.

Updated 1/19/21

Cold Call Standards in 2020

The results below were drawn from outbound prospecting calls from our Client SDRs, setting appointments in multiple industries.

The pink row is from 2019 and the results in purple are from 2020 January through November.

In 2020, our client SDRs saw a 90% increase in their appointment setting rates over 2019, trained using H2H Sales Script Methodology™ for Cold Phone Calls.

The philosophies and strategies applied in our H2H Methodology are shaped by the ears we keep to the ground while listening to the daily wants and needs of the marketplace.

We focus on the sales language and conversation structure to build value with prospects and encourage them to move to the next steps.

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