The 3-5-8 Rule for Successful Selling

I’m a big fan of keeping things simple by following a proven routine for getting things done that happen regularly.  

I eat the same thing for breakfast and for lunch nearly every day. I follow a consistent exercise routine. I have a handful of favorite T-shirts and shorts that I wear all the time.

I like to think that doing this frees my mind to focus my creative energy where it’s most important. My wife says I do this because I am anal retentive (but she loves me anyway).  

Today we’re going to talk about teaching your reps to use a simple daily rule for successful selling.

With all the KPIs, scorecards, and measuring tools out there, Sales Managers sometimes over-complicate things and mistakenly drive reps to focus on meeting KPIs instead of selling.

We’re going to fix that right now.

The 3-5-8 Rule for Successful Selling

When I was an Inside Sale Rep selling Xenserver for Citrix, I came up with the 3-5-8 rule as a way to measure how productive I was each day. To my surprise, this simple rule has since held up with every sales team I’ve led since. 

I’ve found this rule holds true across product lines, companies and average deal sizes – regardless of whether my team was selling to SMB, mid market or enterprise customers.

It worked when we sold a $100/month SAAS solution, when we sold $25K software packages, when we sold consulting services, and when we sold $100K hardware products.


Yes – it is that simple! (photo by Ben White @ Unsplash)

How I Discovered the Rule


I knew as an Inside Sales Rep that I had to prioritize my activities so that I could speak with the most number of potential buyers. The more potential buyers I spoke to each day, the more I sold(Feel free to nominate me for the 2018 Mr. Obvious award). 

Although making dials, sending emails, following-up on leads, and doing webinars all resulted in conversations, they were what I call “chasing” activity.  I had to do a lot of it. At first, I tried to make sure I did 75 dials a day, sent 75 emails each night and did 2 webinars per week. Some days, I could even get up to 100 dials a day.


But I quickly realized that my most effective days weren’t the ones with the most chasing activity. My most effective days were the ones where I had the most conversations.  

Here’s the 3-5-8 rule that I discovered:

  • If I spoke to 3 new potential buyers per day, I would hit 100% of quota
  • If I spoke to 5 new potential buyers per day, I would hit 130% of quota (a break-point for accelerators to kick in!)
  • If I spoke to 8 new potential buyers per day, I would blow out my quota.

Yes, it was really that simple. 

My only other self-imposed requirements for the rule were that:

  1. These had to be new prospects. Prospects with current opportunities in the pipeline did not count.
  2. Prospects I knew wouldn’t buy didn’t count. These included students, consultants, media people, resellers, etc.

How I Teach My Reps the 3-5-8 Rule

First, I tell my reps the story of how I came up with the rule and how it has worked for many of my reps across different teams.

Then I tell my reps they should have :

  • 3 conversations a day to make quota
  • 5 conversations a day to hit 130%+
  • 8 conversations a day to make President’s Club or buy a car with a commission check

I recommend my reps follow this weekly schedule:

  1. Four days a week should be dedicated to building pipeline.
  2. One half-day should be dedicated to working the current opportunities in the pipeline.
  3. That leaves one half-day for administrative work, training, internal meetings or PTO.

I tell my reps it is their responsibility to make a sufficient number of dials, emails & lead follow ups to reach the required number of conversations. In our weekly 1-on-1s, we won’t focus on these chasing activity metrics. Instead we’ll focus on the number of conversations and the results.

Good sales reps love this approach. It eliminates chasing bogus KPIs, wasting time, and rewarding mediocre reps for “gaming the system”. They love knowing that dial metrics will be used as an barometer of effort but not as the “be all end all” KPI.

There you have it. Simple. But not easy. 

To have this many conversations, your reps will be relying on the people, processes and systems you have put in place to help him be successful. If these are solid, you are good to go.

If any of these are broken or missing, give me a call and I’ll help you get things straightened out.

Try the 3-5-8 Rule if your reps are doing lots of chasing while still not selling enough. It has always worked for me and will probably work for you too.

If you want my help building your sales team or improving sales, contact me here. I’d love to hear from you. 

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