For inside sales teams, two traditional daily measures of productivity have been dials and talk time. Most inside sales teams watch the dial figure closely in particular, and have daily expectations or quotas for outbound calls.

When you think about it, that measure is not only arbitrary but misleading and potentially counterproductive. If I’m focused on dial volume, I’m not having substantive conversations with people I reach. I’m also more likely to hound prospects to the point of harassment. Not an ideal way to start a relationship.

Some inside sales organizations have combined dials and talk time into a far better metric to track on a daily or weekly basis – number of five-minute phone calls.

If you’re on the phone for five minutes or more, it’s likely a substantive call. You’ve engaged a prospect, and they’ve stuck around long enough to hear more about what you have to say. If that assumption holds true, I can likely built a predictable model based on how many five-minute phone calls are likely to turn into qualified leads and new opportunities.

For sales qualifiers (i.e. inside sales teams that qualify new leads for pass-along to account executives), this is a particularly valuable metric. But even for those who own the relationship to close, a prospect you catch off-guard isn’t likely going to have time for an in-depth conversation or demo right then and there. A 5-10 minute call lets you ask some qualifying questions, gauge interest, and schedule next steps.

Hat tip to Josh for this.