1 in 20 Will Say “Yes”

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Nineteen No phrases and one Yes


Dear friends,

I used to sell ads in magazines for a living. The job was a lot of fun, and at times it was also very demanding.

One of the most challenging aspects was cold-calling prospects by telephone. You know that dreaded feeling you have when a telemarketer calls? Then you can imagine how most of the business owners responded when I called to talk to them about advertising.

What I discovered over time, however, was that if I had conversations with 20 people, usually about 1 in 20 would give me a “Yes.” It might be, “Yes, let’s make an appointment,” or “Yes, I might be interested,” or “Yes, I’m ready to buy.”

I’m sure other professional salespeople have a much higher success rate, but my goal was to try and speak with 20 people a day. If I did that consistently, I could usually make my sales goal each month because 1 out of 20 would say “yes.”

Ouch, That Hurt

Of course, that means in an average week about 95 people told me “No” (sometimes adding, “Eliza, I would rather have a root canal without anesthesia than talk to you today.”) Many on our team quit because of the rejection. Most successful salespeople will tell you that the key is to keep your focus on those who are ready to say “Yes.”

I’ve noticed a similar ratio in the world of PR and marketing. If you contact 20 editors with well-crafted pitches, on average, one or two will usually say “Yes.” Sometimes it’s more or fewer depending on the story and timing, but overall you can usually count on getting at least one positive response for every 20 queries.


flying pig sculpture


How About You?

What amazing, positive things could you bring to fruition in your life with 1-in-20 odds?

Maybe you’re tired of your job and dream of a better opportunity. What might be the result if you had 20 well-targeted interviews this year?

Let’s say your heart longs for a special, committed relationship. What could happen if you went on 20 quality dates over the next several months?

What if you finished your novel and queried 20 fantastic fiction agents?

What if you entered your tasty recipes in 20 contests or cook-offs?

Mustering the Courage to Ask

Most of the time, we have to step out of our comfort zones to go after the big things we want. We have to bravely accept that we’ll likely encounter a 95% rejection rate, and put ourselves out there anyway—because that’s the gnarly path to reach the top 5%.

Have you ever gone after something great with 1-in-20 odds?

What’s the best risk you ever took?

How do you deal with rejection? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the Comments section at the bottom of this post.

Best always,

Eliza Cross's signature

P.S. Have you entered to win a 20,000 BTU Butane Weed Torch? The drawing closes 2/10/19.

Grateful thanks to Leonora “Ellie” Enking for permission to use the wonderful flying pig sculpture photo above, taken at the Surrey Sculpture Society Trail at the RHS Garden Wisely in Surrey, England


4 thoughts on “1 in 20 Will Say “Yes””

  1. I remember hearing that if your odds are 1 in 20, but you make $200 whenever you make a sale, every time somebody slams the door in your face (or mentions root canals), you just say, “Thanks for the ten bucks!”

    • What an awesome way to stay positive in the face of rejection, Rob — love this! (By the way, ten bucks equals 20 antlers! :-) )


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