Key Takeaways from the 2019 ZoomInfo Call Olympics

In 3 hours, the go-to-market teams at ZoomInfo made 24,000 calls, spoke with customers and prospects for 250 hours, scheduled 400 follow up meetings, and much more. Here’s how we did it.


 Is cold calling dead? Don’t worry: today’s blog post isn’t another rehashing of the same tired argument sales reps hear on a near-daily basis. We’ve written at length about the state of cold calling, and we’ve explained why the phone remains an essential tool in the modern sales rep’s arsenal. Today, rather than tell you cold calling is alive and well, we’re going to prove it with real-world results.

The sales team at ZoomInfo believes in the power of the phone, and they recently put that belief to the test during the 2019 ZoomInfo Call Olympics: a three-hour call blitz with one purpose — connect with as many prospects and customers as possible before the clock hits zero.

As you can imagine, a lot of work went into the planning and execution of this massive competition. When you see the results our team was able to generate over the course of three hours, you’ll understand why we went through all that trouble — and you’ll be itching to pick up the phone and start calling your own future customers.

Read on for a full breakdown of the Call Olympics, from the idea behind the event to the behind-the-scenes preparation that led to the call-a-thon becoming a resounding success.

What was the purpose of the Call Olympics?

Two core principles drove the inception of the Call Olympics. First, from a business perspective, a concentrated call blitz was a strategic tactic to get ahead of the curve as we looked forward to a busy Q4. To maximize our year-end results, our sales team wanted to reach as many sales prospects as possible — sooner, rather than later, especially with the holiday season approaching.

Second, the Call Olympics was also a result of a more philosophical principle. Text-based communication continues to overtake the sales world, as thought leaders and self-proclaimed experts argue that cold calling is no longer effective, no one answers the phone, social selling has rendered it obsolete, excuse after excuse…Our sales team knows how untrue this declaration is, as they’ve experienced firsthand the advantages the phone has over email and other, perhaps trendier, sales tools.

“We believe in the power of the phone,” says Patrick Purvis, Senior VP of Revenue at ZoomInfo. “We think communicating over the phone beats text-based communication like email and text. In today’s sales world, there are all these articles asking ‘Is cold calling dead?’, talking about ‘the rise of the silent sales floor’ and whatnot. We believe it is a sales professional’s job to persuade people to do something they wouldn’t have done otherwise (if that’s not true, we wouldn’t need sales professionals), and we believe the way to do that is with the most human method of communication – conversation.  We know the phone still works.”

And so, the ZoomInfo Call Olympics were born. The premise may be simple, but there were a number of complex challenges to overcome before the call-a-thon got underway.

How did we prepare for the Call Olympics?

Our sales team is made up of nearly 400 reps between out Boston, MA and Vancouver, WA offices — including a variety of distinct go-to-market roles (Account Executives, Sales Development Reps, Account Managers, Customer Success Managers, Customer Development Reps, and Overlay Account Managers). Leadership communicated the plan for the Call Olympics weeks in advance so every rep understood the importance and mission of the call-a-thon.

We planned the call-a-thon as an Olympics-style contest, both for the sake of structure and to add some fun competition to the mix. We divided callers into 33 teams (named after countries to fit the Olympics theme), with each team including a variety of go-to-market roles. The team with the highest call volume over the three-hour window would be declared the winner and receive a grand prize.

In order for the call-a-thon to run smoothly, we had to address two primary concerns:

  1. Make sure everyone had enough contacts to call to fill the three-hour time slot.
    • Note: this isn’t necessarily as easy as it sounds.  Is your data good? Do you have direct dial phone numbers or only corporate switchboards?  If you want successful results calling, if you want your reps to actually talk to real buyers, you MUST arm them with accurate, direct dial phone numbers.
  2. Avoid overlap in our call lists so reps weren’t repeating calls to the same prospects.

The second concern was a critical one, as the call-a-thon could backfire if we confused and frustrated prospects with repeat calls from different reps. “We went to great lengths to scrub each list against each other and make sure there was as little overlap as possible,” says Ben Kornstein, Territory Operations Analyst.

To ensure each team knew who to call, we decided to break the three-hour window into three blocks, with a distinct call list and tactical theme for each hour. For example, during the first hour, Account Managers focused specifically on their Q4 renewals. Each team was assigned a larger pool of contacts in the third hour, a pool they could pull from in Hour 1 or 2 if they completed a previous list early.

How did we gather enough high-quality contacts for a three-hour call blitz?

It goes without saying: If you have hundreds of reps making calls for three hours straight, you’re going to need access to a lot of contacts. But that’s not all: a high quantity of contacts won’t mean much unless those contacts are reliable, accurate, and up-to-date. The purpose of a call blitz isn’t to dial as many digits as possible — it’s to connect with as many real prospects and customers, with real purchasing power, as possible. 

Luckily, our reps don’t just sell the ZoomInfo platform — they also use it every day, and they believe in the depth and accuracy of the data it provides.

“We’re always enriching all the contacts we’re selling to within ZoomInfo’s database,” Purvis said. “When we do a concerted call blitz to go after net new prospects, the source of that data is ZoomInfo.”

Pulling from our own database of high-quality contacts, we were able to build extensive call lists for each hour, and for each role. From there, we built a total of 15 actionable call reports so each rep knew how best to spend their time and what contacts to zero in on. All of this information was loaded into our stack of go-to-market tools, including Outreach, Frontspin and Tellwise. 

Kornstein adds: “By using ZoomInfo as much as we do, it gave us the confidence to be able to run a contest like this.”

An Inside Look at the ZoomInfo Call Olympics

Now that we’ve gone over our plan, you’re probably wondering: how did it go? Did we hit any unforeseen roadblocks? Was all that prep work worth it? Without further ado, let’s journey out to the sales floor and recall the three-hour Call Olympics.

In the hours leading up to the call-a-thon, managers and executives took every step to prepare each and every participant, both strategically and mentally. (After all, three hours is a long time to focus on nothing but making calls). Once the clock started ticking, the sales floor came alive with excitement — not to mention a competitive spirit. “Managers were getting pumped up and were pumping their teams up,” says Brendan Powers, Revenue Operations Analyst. “It facilitated some good competition, but more so enthusiasm from everyone on the floor.”

Powers had built a live dashboard ahead of the event — a leaderboard of sorts that every rep had access to throughout the three-hour blitz. Everyone could see live updates on how many calls were being made across the different teams, undoubtedly adding to the competitive aspect of the contest.

With the call-a-thon underway and each team focusing on their specific contact lists, everything was running smoothly. But, here’s a word to the wise: If you’re going to run a contest of this magnitude, be ready for surprises.

We hit our first and only major roadblock a few minutes into the competition. Outreach, one of our primary go-to-market tools, went down. Fortunately, they were immediately responsive and we were back up and running within 15 minutes. The solution was to raise our call-per-second cap to three times the normal amount — a testament to how effective our call blitz really was.

The Results of the ZoomInfo Call Olympics

At the end of the call blitz, the live dashboard showed a staggering number: During the three-hour window, we made a grand total of 20,450 calls, with a total talk time of 269.4 hours!

While those numbers are impressive in their own right, the business impact of the Call Olympics was even more remarkable. Altogether our team secured 409 total demos, and an additional 773 next steps (agreed-upon follow-ups).

Our sales team entered the contest with confidence and high expectations, but our reps were able to surpass even our most ambitious goals. And we’d be remiss not to give a shout-out to the winner of the Call Olympics. Team Switzerland took home the gold after making an impressive 1,098 calls. That’s 92 calls per team member, with a total talk time of 529 minutes!

The ZoomInfo Call Olympics: Key Takeaways

While its total impact is yet to be realized, the Call Olympics was a major success that set our sales team up for a strong final stretch of 2019. These great results reinvigorated the belief we’ve held all along — that when it comes to reaching prospects and generating new business, the phone is still king. 

We hope this recap inspired you to make more calls as you head into the new year. And since you may be inspired to start planning your own call-a-thon, we’ll leave you with the most important lessons you can take away from our Call Olympics!

1. Plan well in advance.

Each and every rep deserves credit for the skills and passion they displayed during the three-hour blitz — but there’s no overstating the value of the behind-the-scenes work over the weeks leading up to the event. Designate at least three weeks to plan your call blitz so you can account for every possible challenge.

2. Be strategic with the structure of your call-a-thon.

The brains behind our Call Olympics knew that the event couldn’t be a free-for-all, which is why they decided to break the three hours up into tactical, themed blocks. You don’t have to use the same approach, but you should come up with a similarly strategic structure in order to maximize efficiency, avoid repeat calls, and enable each rep to make the most out of their time.

3. Be ready for surprises.

Did we expect one of our primary tools to go down within minutes of our call-a-thon? No, we did not. But our team was ready for sudden hiccups, and we were able to fix the problem quickly and efficiently. Don’t panic if you hit a similar snag during your call blitz. Make sure that managers and team leaders are there to keep everyone focused and calm, and be ready to adapt or tweak your plan if need be.

4. Prioritize high-quality contact data.

We already touched on the strength of ZoomInfo’s contact database, but this last tip isn’t an excuse to squeeze in some more self-promotion. It’s a simple fact: the success of a sales call-a-thon — or a B2B sales strategy, for that matter — hinges on access to accurate, reliable contact data. If you’re going to ask your sales reps to give their all and reach as many prospects as they can, you owe it to them to equip them with the best contact information possible.

To learn more about how ZoomInfo can dramatically scale and improve all aspects of your go-to-market strategy, contact our sales team today. We offer the most intelligent B2B contact database on the market.

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