Sales Benchmarks: The 30/50 rule for cold emailing & cold calling

by Steli Efti
Wallstreet - metrics-min

One of the hardest things about being a sales rep is knowing if you’re doing a good enough job. But what is “good enough?” You might feel like you’re crushing it with your cold email campaigns only to find out your competition is getting double your response rate.

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In sales, knowledge is power. And while you might not be able to get your competition’s exact metrics, knowing industry benchmarks can tell you where your sales efforts are working, and where they’re lacking and need your attention.

If you’re in the B2B space, these are the benchmarks you should be hitting at every step of your cold email and cold calling sales funnels.

Sales benchmarks for cold emailing: The 30/30/50 rule

A basic cold email sales funnel looks something like this:

  • Open rate: How many people opened your email?
  • Response rate: How many people responded to your email?
  • Conversion rate: How many people took the action you wanted them to take (i.e. schedule a demo, sign up for a trial, download a whitepaper)?

First off, if you’re not able to track these numbers, then you’re already in trouble. You can’t fix what you don’t know is broken. And the only way you can improve your sales funnels (and your entire sales process) is by knowing how you’re doing at each stage.

Once you have your tracking in place, there are specific benchmarks you should be hitting to know if you’ve got a healthy funnel.

Opening rate: Minimum 30%

If less than 30% of the people you send cold emails to are opening them, this is a problem you need to deal with. An open rate below 30% makes every other part of your sales process harder. Try writing better subject lines, experimenting with sending your emails at different times, or making sure you’re only messaging your ideal customer.

Response rate: Minimum 30%

You don’t just want prospects to open your sales emails. You want them to read and respond to them. Again, if less than 30% of people who opened your email are responding, this is an area that needs improvement.

Ideally, your response rate should be closer to 50%. But if it’s lower than 30% that means something is fundamentally broken in the body copy of your email and won’t be fixed just by doing more outreach.

To fix your response rate, you might try experimenting with:

  • Your pitch: Is it short, clear, exciting, and compelling?
  • The person you’re pitching to: Did you properly qualify the lead? Are they your ideal customer profile?
  • What you’re asking them to do (your CTA): Is it super clear what their next step is? (i.e. hit reply, schedule a time for a call or demo, etc…) Remove as much effort as possible for the prospect to maximize response rates—one way to do so is the 1, 2, 3 email hack.

Conversion rate: Minimum 50%

At this point of your cold email funnel, you should only be dealing with highly qualified and engaged prospect. They’ve opened, read, and responded to your emails. And you should be able to convert at least 50% of them.

As always, you want to aim to be above this number. But less than a 50% conversion rate is a major red flag.

Sales benchmarks for cold calling: The 30/50/50 rule

When it comes to cold calling, your funnel looks quite similar to cold emailing, but with a few small differences in what you should be tracking:

  • Reach rate: How many times did you reach the person you intended to?
  • Qualify rate: How many of the people you spoke to did you qualify?
  • Conversion rate: How many of those leads took the action you wanted them to?

Again, you need to be able to track all of these metrics to know where your cold calling funnel is working or not.

Close.io's powerful reporting feature allows you to get a high-level overview of your calling activity, for the entire team, or broken down by individual rep. You can slice and dice the data based on the specific criteria that matter to you, so that you get metrics that matter, and ultimately lead to meaningful insights.

reporting-screenshot-3

Reach rate: Minimum 30%

If less than 30% of your cold calls turn into a conversation with a decision maker, your cold calling campaign is dead in the water. Ideally, your reach rate should be closer to 40-50%. And if you can’t fix this number, nothing else really matters in your cold calling funnel.

Qualify rate: Minimum 50%

Here’s where we see a bit of difference from your cold emailing benchmarks. Of the people you get in touch with, you want to qualify at least 50% of them.

This number might seem high. But you need to think about the context. If you did your job, then you’re already researched and qualified this lead before they even picked up the phone.

Once you get in touch with these pre-qualified leads, at least half of them should confirm they’re a good fit for your product. Otherwise, you’re wasting tons of time, energy, and money calling people you never should have reached out to in the first place.

Conversion rate: Minimum 50%

By now, you’re probably starting to see a pattern emerge. But it’s just simple logic. If you’ve done your research, called and spoken with qualified leads, at least 50% of them should do what you’re asking them to do. If you’re not hitting this number, we’ve written about lots of ways you can increase your cold calling conversion rate.

These benchmarks are just a starting point

Benchmarks like these are a great way to know if you’re doing the right things with your cold calling and emailing campaigns. But no one can tell you exactly what numbers your business needs to hit to be successful other than you. So when you're comparing your own numbers to these metrics, there's a few things to consider:

  1. Benchmarks are minimums: Hitting a 30% open rate or 50% conversion rate isn’t a cause for celebration. But it does mean that you’re going down the right path and don’t need to make serious changes.
  2. Context is everything: Every business, market, and industry is different. And there’s a chance your metrics might be completely different and you can make the math work hitting vastly lower numbers. But that is a rarity. In 99% of cases, these benchmarks make sense.
  3. If you’re close to a benchmark you don’t need to rebuild your entire funnel: If your numbers are wildly off, you’ll want to make some drastic changes to your funnels. But, if you’re only slightly below them, it’s better to focus on incremental growth. Track your metrics month-on-month and use experiments to get your numbers up.

Even if you’re hitting (or above) these benchmarks your work isn’t done

These benchmarks are just guides, not goals. They’re the minimum you need to be hitting to know that you’re at least going in the right direction.

In sales, the work is never over and there’s always room for improvement. Track your metrics through every step of your sales funnel, measure them against these benchmarks, and always be looking for places to get better. If you sit back and say “we’re hitting 50% so we’re all good!” someone will come and knock you off the throne.

Good sales teams hit their numbers and are happy. But great ones are never satisfied.

Want to drastically improve your outbound sales? Grab your free copy of my book, "Your Growth Hacks Aren't Working. Now Pick Up The Phone And Get Customers!" which is packed with actionable advice on cold emailing and calling prospects and turning them into paying customers

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