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Sales masters

Mark Kosoglow’s key takeaways from making 500k+ cold calls

December 15, 2023

Arjun Krisna

In the competitive world of sales, there are those who excel and those who struggle to make their mark. What sets the top performers apart from the rest?

To uncover some valuable insights, we sat down with Mark Kosoglow, Chief Revenue Officer at Catalyst, a seasoned sales professional with over fifteen years of experience.

Also, don't forget to check out our previous blog, where we put together a list of 20 must-follow GTM experts for SDRs & AEs.

Can you share a bit about yourself and what led you to Catalyst?

My name is Mark Kosoglow. I'm the Chief Revenue Officer at Catalyst, after about fifteen years of selling into education, K-12. I had an opportunity to meet the CEO of Outreach, and for eight years, I led sales at Outreach from zero to about two hundred and fifty million dollars.

That opened a lot of doors for me when it was time to look for new opportunities.

I landed at Catalyst because I saw the market moving towards valuing retention and expansion of customer revenue, as the ROI on top of funnel new logo investments was starting to decline. That's why I'm here, to help make customer-led growth more predictable, operationalized, and rigorous at companies.

What are your learnings from making over 500,000 cold calls? 

I started my sales career as a shoe salesman in a mall, working at a store similar to Finish Line or Champs, selling athletic shoes. I began cold calling by inviting people in the mall into the store, which was a challenge for me as an introvert. This experience helped me get comfortable engaging with strangers and dealing with rejection.

Later, in college, I sold credit cards over the phone. I had shifts where I would speak to about one hundred people per hour, and only a few would say yes. This job got me accustomed to hearing 'no.' I learned to not view 'no' as rejection but as a step closer to a 'yes.' In cold calling, you need to move through the 'no's to find the 'yes's. I realized every 'no' on a cold call gets you closer to a 'yes.'

This mentality is crucial for cold calling; it's filled with rejection, but you need to be able to move through it without letting it affect you.

I learned that cold calling is not very different from what legendary baseball players and sellers do; it's just a different medium with a much higher volume, making the rejection feel more intimidating.

Did you have a specific framework for making phone calls?

There's no specific framework for making calls. It's simple: control what you can control. No one can stop you from picking up the phone and dialing. Your company can provide tools or clean data to make your dials more effective, but the basic framework is just sitting down, having your phone in front of you, and pushing the buttons.

When I was working a job where I was in the field four days a week, I made all my cold calls on Friday. I'd make about ten calls each day in the field and a hundred every Friday. I would watch TV or engage in other activities while making these calls. The key was making quality calls, especially since I was on a hundred percent commission.

Whether I finished early or late, I ensured I made a hundred quality dials every Friday. It’s about doing what it takes, sitting down, and doing the work. Leave a voicemail, maybe someone responds, maybe they recognize your email.

There’s no need to only make dials when doing cold calls. If you have your system down, you should be able to switch into cold call mode without any problem. One year, I even played games while making cold calls and still booked twelve to fourteen meetings every week. It’s about embracing the task, much like mowing the grass in the heat or cooking dinner when you don’t feel like it.

I don’t want to make cold calls, but it helps build pipeline, and pipeline helps make money. Simply put, just make the phone calls.

How do you approach managing and coaching teams in cold calling?

The company's job is to make cold calls efficient. Reps have limited control over their connect rate, which is largely a data quality issue, but they have total control over making the dials. It's essential to have a data infrastructure that allows reps a chance at successful cold calls. For example, a three percent connect rate and a ten percent meeting book rate require about four hundred dials to book a meeting.

However, with a seven percent connect rate and a seven percent meeting book rate, only two hundred dials are needed. A company should strive to make dials more efficient.

Reps can negatively impact their connect rate by repeatedly calling the same contacts, which is ineffective. As a manager, ensure the infrastructure is in place for reps to have efficient effort, as a lot of effort can be wasted without the right support.

Cold calling is a discipline. It's essential to manage the number of dials or connects and maintain this daily. Setting clear expectations is crucial; not making the required dials is failing to do the job's basics.

Provide strong coaching and a clear framework for how cold calling should be done, and coach on how to do it better. If these three aspects are not addressed, leading a team in cold calling effectively is unlikely.

What single sales tip would you share if you had a mega billboard? 

My biggest leap in my sales career came when I stopped trying to do everything my way. I used to think I was a good seller and smart, always doing things a bit my way, which led to making mistakes that others had already made.

I remember a sales leader, Renee Ooyala, telling me I could be the top salesman if I stopped doing things my way and followed his instructions exactly. I did, and it led to my best years ever. I blew it out and then started to see holes in the system where I could do better. I began to adjust and iterate on this known quantity of how things worked, which led to even greater success.

So, my number one advice is: quit trying to figure it out yourself. Find someone who's doing it right and copy them exactly. Don't reinvent the wheel; buy the tire that's already available. You can put in much less effort, and it might not be the exact wheel you want, but it will get the car going.

Copy exactly how they do it, master it, then understand where you need to make it better for you, and iterate on top of a known working process.

Mark Kosoglow's journey from selling shoes in a mall to becoming the Chief Revenue Officer at Catalyst is a testament to the power of perseverance and a willingness to learn from others.

His insights into cold calling, managing sales teams, and the importance of not trying to reinvent the wheel offer valuable lessons for both seasoned professionals and those just starting in sales.

As Mark puts it, success often lies in following a proven path before forging your own.

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