Cold Call Conversion Rates: Funnel Metrics & Benchmarks

At least twice a week, I talk to founders who want to improve their outbound sales and cold calling performance.

They’ll say, “We’re closing an average of 1 out of every 100 leads we call. How can we improve this?”

That’s an impossible question to answer. And worse still, it’s not the right question to actually improve your cold call conversion rates.

Here’s the thing—you don’t close on the first phone call in most industries. Converting a new lead doesn’t work like that. You need to take steps in between; this is your cold calling funnel.

Learn about your entire funnel, and you’ll see where you can optimize and improve your conversion rate.

Average Cold Calling Conversion Rates: What are They, and Do They Matter?

The average conversion rate for cold calling is two percent, which means that out of every 100 sales calls your SDR team makes, only two end up as closed deals.

And if that sounds sucky, you’re right. But it’s only part of the story.

Cold calling success rates only track one metric: a closed deal. But cold calling is so much more than that—especially in B2B sales, cold calling means opening the door to future conversations that later lead to deals. Just look at these cold calling statistics from RAIN Group:

Is cold calling still effective? Obviously yes. So, behind that benchmark of a two percent success rate, there’s a much bigger story. And each piece of your sales process—from lead generation to getting a referral—is part of that story.

Cold calling doesn’t stand alone. So, don’t look at the success rate of cold calling as a standalone metric. Here’s how to look at it instead.

How to Improve Your Success Rate When Cold Calling: 3 Steps for Better Conversion Rates

Just like any other sales funnel, your cold calling funnel has specific stages that potential customers will go through as they get closer to making a purchase.

For you to analyze this funnel, answer these questions:

  • Of the calls you make, how many people do you reach?
  • Of the people you talk to, how many are qualified to purchase?
  • Of those qualified, how many do you close?

Cold calling conversion rate funnel

We like to use the 30/50/50 benchmark as a goal, which looks like this:

  • We reach 30 percent of the numbers we call
  • We qualify 50 percent of the people we talk to
  • We close 50 percent of the leads who are qualified

How do you find these numbers? In Close, you can analyze your funnel and pipeline health with built-in Opportunity Funnel reporting.

Opportunity funnel reporting in Close

Here you can easily see:

  • Conversion rates per stage
  • Win rate
  • Sales velocity
  • Average time to advance

Once you have these numbers, you’re much better equipped to decide which part of your funnel needs improvement. You want to fix first the part of the sales funnel that will make the biggest difference to your bottom line.

Let’s take each of these one by one:

1. Improve Your Reach Rate and Get More Decision Makers on the Phone

One of the main inefficiencies of cold calling that people don't take into account is reach rates. In other words—out of 100 dials, how many prospects do your salespeople actually talk to? Or, how many cold call attempts does it take to speak with a decision-maker? How many times are your sales reps leaving voicemails?

While there’s no quick fix to improve this number, here are some steps you can take:

  • Make sure the phone numbers your team dials are high-quality—don’t fall into the trap of buying lead lists just because it’s fast.
  • Call every new inbound signup within five minutes (this is something we did at the beginning of Close, and although it’s hard to scale, it’s a surefire way to talk to someone).
  • Test the best days and times to execute your cold calling campaigns. This will differ by industry and audience, so play around with different times to see what works best for your calling efforts.

Remember: Even slight improvements in your reach rate will yield significantly better results in your overall cold calling conversions.

Here are the benchmarks for reach rates:

  • 10 percent or less = You’re toast.
  • 15 percent = You’re doing ok; this is pretty much standard.
  • 30 percent = You’re doing great!

2. Help Your Sales Reps Get Better at Qualifying Leads

The next hurdle to overcome is getting better at qualifying leads. This part of your sales strategy is crucial to improving your cold calling conversion rates and gaining (and retaining) top-quality customers.

Sales development teams have to know the exact criteria of a good customer. What key aspects join this group together and make them extra-special to your business? Build an ideal customer profile and buyer persona to set your team up for success.

The benchmark for qualifying cold calls should be around 50 percent. That may seem high, but if you have good leads, you should qualify for around half the people you reach. If you qualify less than 50 percent, you need better quality leads.

3. Conduct More Successful Cold Calls, and Close More Deals

If your reach-to-qualify ratio is good, but you don’t close enough deals, you might have one of these common problems:

  • You don't have product-market fit yet
  • Cold calling is not a viable way to sell your product or service
  • Your pitch sucks

Each issue has a simple solution, but it’s up to you to figure out the problem.

If you don’t have a product-market fit, then spend more time talking to your target audience to see what they need. If cold calling doesn’t work for your industry, cut it out of your strategy!

And if your pitch sucks, spend some time getting to know your customer’s pain points and delivering your pitch in a way that shows them the potential of working with you.

Remember, cold call conversion rates don’t have to just refer to closed deals. Many times, the goal of a cold call is to get your prospect to agree to another call, meeting, or product demo. That’s a win, a type of conversion you’ll want to track inside your greater sales strategy.

As a benchmark, you should be able to convert 50 percent of the people you’ve qualified.

Final Thoughts: Use These Cold Calling Tips to Improve Your Conversion Rates

If you want to improve your cold calls, there are plenty of ways to do it. Here are just some of our favorite tips:

  • Use social media to conduct warm calls: For B2B sales, LinkedIn is a great place to connect with people, so they already recognize your name when you get on the phone.
  • Use cold calling scripts that adapt to your prospects: Your sales calls shouldn’t be monologues. Use your script like an outline that guides the conversation but allows you to ask questions and adapt to your prospect.
  • Send cold emails in addition to your cold call campaigns. You can even set up workflows for your cold outreach, contacting your prospects via different methods.
  • Use a tool that helps your sales team dial faster with automation: For example, Close’s Power Dialer and Predictive Dialer help your sales team go through lead lists faster by making sure you’re only connected when someone answers.
  • Optimize your cold calling strategy by conducting follow-up calls: Sales isn’t a once-and-done strategy. Optimize your follow-up skills, and you’ll be better prepared to close more deals

Simply saying, "How can we improve sales?" isn’t enough. You need to know your cold calling funnel to understand what's going on and spot real opportunities for improvements.

Want to get a head start? Try Close for 14 days to track your close rates and other funnel metrics right inside your CRM.

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