Prospecting by the numbers – cold calling versus referrals

I am one of the weird individuals that enjoys seminars and webinars. This week I attended one of each. The seminar I attended was on the topic of business networking and was put on by a local business networking organization. I should point out that I am not a member of this organization. In fact, I am a member of another very similar organization.

The last portion of the meeting was fifteen minutes of comparing two prospecting methods – cold calling and referral marketing. While the presentation was a bit of a sales pitch to convince guests to join the group, I thought the presenter did a nice job laying out the case for how referral marketing (more specifically developing relationships with other professionals that are willing to refer business your way) is by far a much more efficient way of prospecting and closing new business.

Let’s take a look at the average statistics:

Cold calling

20 – twenty calls on prospects
10 – to speak to ten people
5 – five of which agree to meet with you
2 – two actually show up for your appointment
1 – close one sale

Referral marketing

5 – referrals from complimentary business professionals
2 – two that agree to meet
1 – close one sale

What amount of time do you think it takes to complete the cold calling activities versus the referral process? Without actually calculating it, I think we can agree that leveraging referral relationships much more efficient by a fair margin. I can tell you from personal experience that this is accurate.

So, why do so many professionals continue to make cold calls? A main reason is that they just don’t understand how to build referral relationships in the first place. Certainly doing so can take time. And many professionals are looking for the quick sale that cold calling can yield. But I would hypothesize that the quality of the sales closed through referrals is vastly better.

My question to you is – would you rather have a 20:1 or a 5:1 ratio?

If you see the value in meeting like-minded professionals, in order to build referral relationships check out a new way to network.


About Jonathan Patrick connects like-minded business professionals over face to face, one on one appointments based on each member's preferences.

Posted on June 4, 2012, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Yes, we all would. I encourage my clients to take networking to a new level by focusing their efforts on finding and developing referral relationships. Even though we’d all love to walk out of a networking event with a hot prospect, its short-sighted if we miss out on building referral opportunities.

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