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How to Use “Moneyball” Techniques for Cold Calling Success

Moneyball for sales prosThe year was 2002. The Oakland A’s, a small market MLB team with one of the lowest revenues in baseball, faced a significant challenge.

They had to compete against teams like the New York Yankees—big market franchises that doubled and even tripled them in payroll.

People said it couldn’t be done. They said the A’s wouldn’t be able to compete.

In stepped Billy Beane.

What happened next? You’ve probably heard the story.

Billy Beane took “common wisdom” and flipped it on its head.

At the time, baseball scouts relied on Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) like Runs Batted In (RBIs), stolen bases, and batting average to gauge players.

But Beane took a different approach. Instead of this “common wisdom,” he favored a more scientific method. Through statistical analysis, he discovered that on-base percentage and slugging percentage were better indicators of offensive success.

These qualities were cheaper to attain on the open market than the traditionally valued qualities, allowing the A’s to build a roster of undervalued players. Their payroll was just $41 million, compared to Yankees payroll of $125 million!

The result? The Oakland A’s made it to the playoffs during the 2002 and 2003 seasons—beating many of the teams with colossal payrolls along the way.

The key was that, unlike other teams, they weren’t buying players—they were buying wins.

As a salesperson, you can adopt a similar statistical approach to get the best results from cold calling.

Using “Moneyball” for sales and cold calling can help you to become more efficient, more productive, and more successful. Here’s how.

Prioritize calling days and times

Time of day: You might think the best times to cold call would be late morning, around lunch time, and early afternoon. However, a cold calling study by Kellogg School of Management – in which over 40 industries took part – found otherwise. According to the study, the best times to call to qualify a lead are from 8:00am to 9:00am, and from 4:00pm to 5:00pm.

In fact, it’s not even close. These times are 164% better than calling right after lunch.

Day of week: Whether you make calls a few days a week, or every day, you should definitely give priority to certain days of the week. The Kellogg study showed that Thursday was the best day (with Wednesday a close second, followed by some separation). Friday is the worst. While we’re not suggesting you only cold call on Thursdays from 8am-9am and 4pm-5pm, these are the most efficient time slots—so make sure to utilize them and plan accordingly.

An interested lead: Leads that are generated from your website have a short lifespan. In fact, it’s just five minutes! The study showed that leads contacted within the first five minutes were 100 times more likely to answer, and 21 times more likely to qualify. After five minutes, these numbers bottomed out.

Call (and email) Repeatedly

Persistence: Did you know that 44% of sales reps quit after one “no”? While the initial cold call is important, it’s not the be-all end-all. In fact, the chance of making a sale actually increases with each additional cold call, up to a point.

Just look at the statistics.

–  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

The message is clear: following up is key.

Use calls, compelling voicemails, and targeted emails to advance the process, even when a prospect is not initially interested.

Here’s an example: A friend of mine worked as a door-to-door marketer when he was younger. His company was big, and they would end up rotating through neighborhoods every one to two months (i.e. they would knock on the same door every month or two).

At first, he’d get discouraged when he went back to a neighborhood where he previously had little success. His expectations were low—these people already denied him! But he soon found out that the same people who denied him just a month or two before, would have a change of heart and say “yes” the second, third, fourth, or fifth time around and beyond. His colleagues noticed the same phenomenon.

While a prospects guard may be up the first time around, resulting in a “no,” they may actually have a need for your product or service. If not immediately, then eventually. Persistence is what gives you the opportunity to capitalize on these leads.

Track Your Own Numbers

Just as “moneyball” techniques produce different insights for baseball and basketball, they’ll produce different insights for insurance agents and headhunters. The key is to know your numbers.

Mileage varies depending on the product or service you’re selling, it’s cost and value, the kind of lead you’re selling to, and so many other factors.

So remember that the scientific data above is a great starting point… but is not a replacement for tracking your own efforts, successes and failures to determine what’s right for you. You should know the average number of contacts it takes before you close your sales, the days and times you reach the most live contacts, the ideal amount of time to wait before following-up, the emails that prospects reply to the most, and anything else you can track.

Data helps you make cold calls more efficiently, and get better results!

How will you start implementing moneyball techniques into your cold calling strategy? Tweet us or let us know in the comments below!


  • Coop

    Great job! We operate by theme days in different days. This is great advice.

  • Great read! Thank you.