Sales Statistics – How many calls to close a sale?

When you think of sales statistics, do you wonder how many calls it takes to make a sale? Sales call statistics deserve fact checking. We’ve done some fact checking of our own when it comes to the favorite sales call statistics that are widely bantered about on the Internet.

How many calls does it take to make a sale?

It is likely that you have read a post or two or even a blog article about closing ratios. For example “5% of sales are made on the third contact.” Many such statistics use “National Sales Executives Association” as their source.

There are a few bloggers who have made claims that they’ve done research to prove that these statistics are false and claim that there is no such organization as National Sales Executives Association. One such blogger, Stewart Rogers of Venture Beat, stated that he took only five minutes doing research on the Internet to substantiate his claim that “Those incredible sales stats everyone cites are actually completely false.”

Apparently Mr. Rogers didn’t come across this history page for Sales & Marketing Executives, International, named in earlier days as National Sales Executives Association.

SMEI History

Another anonymous blogger boasts that they’ve never heard of National Sales Executives. They made the claim: “After an extensive internet search, I’ve concluded that there is no such thing as the National Sales Executive Association.”

Another blog post recently listed the statistic attributed to NSEA showing that 80% of sales are made on the 5th to 12th contact.

NSEA Research

Sales statistics are important, but before we share the sales stats we find on the Internet, we should verify them.

So when you see the following sales statistics, what should you do?

  • 2% of sales are made on the first contact
  • 3% of sales are made on the second contact
  • 5% of sales are made on the third contact
  • 10% of sales are made on the fourth contact
  • 80% of sales are made on the fifth to twelfth contact

Sales Statistics Research

We’ve done some research in the SMEI archives, since most references to these sales statistics attribute them to NSEA or National Sales Executives Association, now named Sales & Marketing Executives International. What we found may surprise you.

smei archives

In 1942, the Long Island, NY chapter of NSEA (now SMEI) surveyed their members to determine the ratio of calls made to sales made. The results of that study have been widely distributed, copied and pasted and appear on many social media and blog posts. Another thing that might surprise you is that the sample size was less than 40.

Should Sales Statistics Inform our Decisions?

Reliable sales statistics should inform our decisions. Before we rely on statistics, here are some questions we could ask:

  • Who did the research?
  • Is the research unbiased? Is it being used to influence a sales training purchase decision?
  • Was the research done recently, or is it out of date?
  • Was the sample size meaningful?

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