Advice: "My sales manager wants us to make 100 usesless calls a day. How can I tell him it doesn't work?"

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Dear Quota Team

About six months ago, my company got a new general sales manager. We’re a team of about fifteen, and handle all sales (inside sales) for the organization. It’s a small company, but the comp plan is strong, and we not only get a solid base pay, but basically anybody with a pulse can make six figures as long as they answer the phone and know what they’re doing.

This new manager seemed nice at first. He is on the older side, so his mentality is somewhat old-school. He made some small changes at first, but a few months ago, he instituted a minimum call requirement for the entire sales staff. Basically, we have to make 100 outbound calls a day, Monday through Friday. These are tracked, and anybody who doesn’t make the calls gets written up (3 write-ups and you get fired). 

Everybody hates this new policy, and lots of people are just calling numbers they know won’t pick up (dead leads, voicemails, etc). We are a mostly inbound call center, and get a high volume of calls, so the outbound policy basically just distracts us from pursuing deals that are likely to actually close in order to make a crazy number of useless calls. 

Nobody has told the manager how dumb this policy is because he doesn’t seem to take criticism well. He has a temper and a my-way-or-the-highway mentality. Otherwise, he seems like a decent guy, but if you push back on anything, he turns into a completely different person. Is there anything we can do to change our situation, or are we stuck making these dumb calls until the manager retires or gets fired (since him abandoning this initiative is unlikely)? Thanks. 

Frustrated in location withheld  


Dear Frustrated,

This is a tough one, given that the manager doesn’t take criticism well. And no matter what you do, you’ll be taking a big risk. 

One option is to get all of the sales reps on the same page and approach the manager as a united front. Make it clear that while you respect the policy, it’s counterproductive and takes time away from productive work. This, of course, might not go over too well, and you should be ready for some serious blowback. 

Another option might be to ask for the number of outbound calls to be reduced, instead of eliminated. That might soften the blow and make the manager more receptive to the team’s input, though you still run the risk of getting blowback. 

Or, you could try leaning into the policy and actually using the outbound time productively. Follow-ups close deals, and the truth is that the policy was put in place in order to get results, despite the fact that the team thinks it’s counterproductive. What if you blocked off time every day to make the calls and actually tried your best? What would happen? 

Odds are that you’ll be stuck with the policy until the manager changes his mind, leaves to work somewhere else, or cold-calling is completely outlawed. And this might just be one of those things you have to deal with in order to benefit from the competitive pay structure. In any case, good luck! 

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