I read with great interest the 2014 Canadian State of Sales Effectiveness Market Report, published by the Canadian Professional Sales Association. I was particularly interested in the Lead Generation and Conversion section of the report. The success reported by sales professionals for each lead generation/conversion method seems to indicate old school methods bring the best results, and the reports interpretation of the data hailed these “personal connection” methods as the winners. However, I believe they missed a critical reason behind the ranking.

It’s obvious to me that the reason old school methods are still being claimed as most successful by sales professionals is because they aren’t using online lead generation to it’s full potential. A lack of accurate tracking of online lead generation is almost certainly another factor. This is especially true in Canada, as indicated by countless other research projects focused on the topic.

Report: Canadian Sales Pro's Still Don't Get Online Lead GenerationThe tip-off in this data is how highly cold calling is ranked, coming in third behind networking and referrals in lead generation (both of which can include online lead generation) and fourth in conversions. Cold calling eats up time with rejection after rejection. It starts (and usually ends) a business relationship on the wrong foot. Irritating people is not a good sales tactic and cold calls do irritate people.

Internet inbound marketing, on the other hand, brings people to you in a happy, open-minded mood.  Inbound leads are usually people who have sought you out for what you have to offer them, and often they’ve already expressed an interest in your brand specifically (such as following you on social media).  Inbound marketing can’t possibly be less successful than cold calling unless it isn’t being used frequently or correctly.  If you can’t make a sale to a virtual room full of people who are already interested in your company, product or service, you’re doing something wrong.

It is encouraging to see Canadian sales professionals utilizing the Internet more than ever though. In fact, it’s probably sales professionals that recognized the lead generation potential of the Internet before everyone else.

The statistics in the report are divided into two groups, The High Effectiveness Group (Achieved 100-150% of revenue goals) represented here as HEG, and the Low Effectiveness Group (Achieved less than 80% of revenue goals) represented here as LEG.

Following are the numbers reported in answer to the survey question, “Please rate your success with generating new leads with each of the following methods.”

Networking: 84% (HEG) and 72% (LEG)
Referrals: 83% (HEG) and 89% (LEG)
Cold Calling: 73% (HEG) and 62% (LEG)
Email: 71% (HEG) and 69% (LEG)
Content: 41% (HEG) and 36% (LEG)
Social: 34% (HEG) and 31% (LEG)
Forms/Landing Pages: 33% (HEG) and 23% (LEG)
Online Media: 31% (HEG) and 29% (LEG)
Print Media: 29% (HEG) and 43% (LEG)
Video: 20% (HEG) and 10% (LEG)

Following are the numbers reported in answer to the survey question, “Please rate your success with converting leads acquired through each of the following methods.”

Referrals: 87% (HEG) and 84% (LEG)
Networking: 80% (HEG) and 67% (LEG)
Email: 74% (HEG) and 74% (LEG)
Cold Calling: 71% (HEG) and 58% (LEG)
Print Media: 44% (HEG) and 40% (LEG)
Content: 37% (HEG) and 31% (LEG)
Forms/Landing Pages: 34% (HEG) and 28% (LEG)
Social: 33% (HEG) and 28% (LEG)
Online Media: 30% (HEG) and 26% (LEG)
Video: 17% (HEG) and 9% (LEG)

Comment on Canadians Internet BusinessHow do your sales statistics compare to those found in this survey? Please share in the comments below.

You may also be interested in reading:
Co-operative Social Media Engagement Groups for Canadian Businesses
Canadians Have a Huge Influence on Fellow Consumers (Statistics)
Marketers Reveal Their Most Effective Social Marketing Tactics


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Melody McKinnon
Digital Business & Marketing Manager at Online Business Canada | Website

Melody McKinnon is an internet entrepreneur with 25 years of experience in a wide range of online business models, backed by a formal business education and enhanced by training and mentorship. She has owned or managed both educational and ecommerce websites. Her book, 7 Recession Proof Online Businesses to Start From Home, is available from all major ebook retailers.

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I gave up on cold calling a long time ago. It seems so pointless to do something you know is ging to p*ss people off just to get one sale a week if you’re lucky. Good observations and I appreciate your modern viewpoint.

Ivan P.

You hit the nail right on the head! I’m surprised they didn’t consider that when they evaluated the data. Data can have more than one story to tell and the truly learned see it from multiple angles. Great job!


Great article. I can’t believe that people still cling to cold calling. I am all for old school methods because at the end of the day, no matter what advances we have in technology, people still want to do business with people they know, like and trust. I have met face to face some great people that I first met online through social media, and we have also helped each other grow our respective businesses.

Without social media, I never would have made these great friends. If they had cold called me, I know that we would not have bonded as we have.