Why Your Sales Manager Wants You to Make More Calls

Short answer: Because you aren’t making enough calls.

It’s true that there is a difference between efficiency and effectiveness. It’s also true that way too many sales managers demand efficiency because it’s easier than helping their salespeople improve their effectiveness. But just like all sales problems aren’t efficiency problems that need to be solved with more activity, not all sales problems are effectiveness problems either.

Sometimes the reason your sales manager wants you to make more calls is because you need to make more calls.

You Tried It Your Way

Most of the time sales managers wait far too long to diagnose an efficiency problem. They want to allow the salesperson to do whatever works for them. If the salesperson is effective prospecting their own way, most sales managers want to support them. As long as what they are doing is working.

It’s when the email marketing, the social selling, and the waiting have produced no pipeline to speak of that sales managers start to ratchet up the pressure. When your approach isn’t working, it’s time to try another approach.

How Many Calls Is Enough?

I know a salesperson that can book four or five calls out of ten. She’s just that good. If you were new to sales, watching her would make you believe that prospecting is easy. You might allow yourself to believe that you can make a few calls and wildly succeed too. But you would be wrong.

You need to do whatever amount of prospecting that you need to do to build your pipeline. It’s personal to you. You might need to do much more than someone else, even someone in the same job, in the same company, with the same goals. If you are really effective, you might need to make far fewer calls than your peers. But if you aren’t effective, you just have to grind away and do the work. For now anyway.

Your Sales Manager Is Right . . . Now

Your sales manager is right. The right remedy for what is ailing you is more activity when you aren’t doing enough to give yourself a fighting chance.

But your sales manager doesn’t have to be right forever. Here’s the truth: The more calls you make, the more effective you become. If you make a lot of calls, you get better fast. If you never make the number of calls you need to improve, it will take you forever to build any real competence. Let’s say it takes 1,000 calls to improve one level (whatever that might mean). You can make those calls in a month or two, or you can make those calls in a year or two. But the sooner you make those calls, the sooner you can succeed in sales making fewer calls.

For now, give an increase in activity a chance, and give yourself a fighting chance. Just make more calls.


When is more activity the right answer to low sales numbers and a weak pipeline?

When is it time to give up a prospecting approach that isn’t working and try something new (or old)?

Why can some salespeople produce better results with their peers with less activity?

What’s the fastest way to improve your effectiveness at some task?

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  • David Kemper

    Great points. Sometimes, it IS about the quantity of “lines in the water.” Gotta look at the blocks and try it the boss’ way sometimes. In my experience 9/10 times there’s a good reason the boss is the boss.

    • S. Anthony Iannarino

      You continue to show up here with new metaphors for me to shamelessly steal. Thanks!

  • MarketingMikeR

    It is also nice when you have the boss who knows your way is working and gives you the freedom to do it your way…unless of course like you said Anthony your way isn’t working! Great post!

    • S. Anthony Iannarino

      It’s true! If it works, keep doing it . . . or do even more of it!

  • Robert Nolan

    “The right remedy for what is ailing you is more activity when you aren’t doing enough to give yourself a fighting chance”. Please allow me to disagree just a little. When I used to play a lot of golf I always had a slice, I always practiced the same swing. Still had a slice.
    The number of calls if not planned properly still produce the same results.
    Many years ago I managed a sales group that called on retail stores selling home accessories, the numbers of calls always seemed to be the goal but a friend taught me to have the group spend just a little more time with each account and sell additional lines we represented. Once we started taking the time to build the relationships the customer was happy and the reps made more money.

    • S. Anthony Iannarino

      I take your point, Robert. And I agree. Doing more poor work doesn’t produce better results. Effectiveness is every bit as important as efficiency.

      But the point I am making is that when you aren’t doing enough to give yourself a fighting chance, then more activity is the right prescription. I know (and you do, too) plenty of reps who are great at prospecting . . . they just don’t do much of it.