Even though chatbots and social selling are hogging the sales conversation in 2019, cold calling, done right, is still an essential piece of your strategy.
What's also important: knowing when to make your cold calls to increase the chances of your prospect picking up the phone.
Perfect timing is not an exact science, though data suggests that some times are better than others.
In this article, we’ll explore the issue of timing, and its impact on improving your cold calling success rates.
When is the best time to cold call?
After analyzing data from 11 million outgoing calls, Phone Burner found that the best times for cold calls are broken down as follows:
The main takeaway from this report is that most sales calls should be performed between standard business hours—i.e., 9-5 in the prospect's time zone. Insight Squared data doubles down on this discovery and recommends calling between 10 am and 4 pm, noting a spike around 10 am.
Call too early in the morning, and you risk annoying the prospect. People aren't too excited about answering the phone—much less an unsolicited call—first thing in the morning.
What's the best day of the week to make cold calls?
According to a 2017 CallHippo study, Wednesday and Thursday are the best days of the week to make a call. Though, it’s worth pointing out that response time and persistence come into play here, too.
That Wednesday/Thursday logic makes sense, based on the flow of the work week. On Mondays (the worst day to call) buyers tend to be too busy. They're planning their week, taking care of loose ends and urgent matters leftover from the weekend.
By Wednesday, things have calmed down, and buyers might be more receptive to picking up a call from a stranger. Then, Friday rolls around and it’s time to start thinking about those nights out and days off.
Insight Squared found some differences. Their study showed that Tuesday has the highest connect rate by day of the week, and interestingly, Mondays performed just as well as Wednesdays.
Based on the few examples we’ve mentioned, it seems that there’s no definitive best day to call. The studies didn’t mention whether there was any variation based on industry or role. Meaning, there’s the chance that Call Hippo and Insight Squared were looking at people from different customer profiles.
When is the worst times to make cold calls?
As we can see from the Phone Burner example, the worst times of day to make phone calls are early in the morning or late at night.
While that particular example said that making calls after the 5 pm mark isn't the best idea, it's worth noting that this Lead Response Management Study found between 4 pm and 6 pm was the sweet spot for contacting a lead.
CallHippo is on the same page here, too, their findings revealed that between 7 am and 10 am are the worst times to call.
Given that most offices open between 8 and 9 am, those first couple hours are usually dedicated to answering emails, grabbing a coffee, and figuring out what the day has in store.
The folks rolling in early in the morning tend to do so because they get a couple of hours free from distraction before everyone else in their open office plan arrives on the scene.
The same can be said for night owls.
Getting around gatekeepers might mean calling during off hours.
Sales reps often start making calls in the morning, before lunch, or right before they head home. Which may be the same times that the gatekeeper—think receptionists, assistants, or a junior employee—is more likely to answer the phone, as they may be using downtime to finish admin tasks.
According to The Balance, calling after-hours or before the "traditional" workday begins might help you get past the first line of defense. The idea is, often the decision-maker comes in a bit earlier than their staff to get a jump on the day.
The downside with this approach is, the prospect might not be at work during these hours themselves. Your best bet might be calling just before official business hours begin, not two, three hours before.
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Think beyond hours and days.
While Tuesdays may well be statistically the best day to call and 4 pm might be the sales sweet spot, timing your calls based on events could have a serious impact on your sales outcomes.
Factors like company announcements from funding rounds to new product launches could prompt a call, especially if you've got something that speaks directly to this new situation.
Global or industry-wide events, too, could be changing the game for your prospect. Did a competitor leave the market? Is there a massive shortage of a specific product? New regulations to comply with — think privacy rules HIPAA or GDPR compliance.
We should mention, Copper pulls prospect information into their customer record. This feature is useful for validating leads, but it also contains company details and a LinkedIn profile, if available. These are great places to start looking for any major updates.
Additionally, you may want to do some extra digging yourself. Check industry publications, as well as channels like TechCrunch, AngelList, and Twitter for updates within your clients’ verticals, and if anything happens, make sure to record that intel inside your CRM’s client records.
Timing isn't everything, but call sequence might be.
You might have seen it coming. The moral of the story is, there is no best time to cold call.
As is the case with the best times to email or post on Instagram, the best calling times depend on the prospect's schedule, preferences, and availability.
However, a 2016 Velocify survey says that the speed to call might be the most crucial factor in connecting with a new prospect. They also found that the difference between the best and worst time of day to call only amounted to about 2.6 percentage points.
What this means is, reps were more successful when they made contact with a rep within one minute of their initial inquiry. What’s more, they were nearly 400% percent more likely to convert than those who waited until the next day to reach out.
The study also found that reps who made follow up calls based on strategically timed intervals saw higher conversion rates than those who followed up based on "time of day" best practices.
What this means for sales reps is, you need to respond to inquiries quickly, then map out a series of follow-up calls and emails. This in-depth guide to customer journeys helps paint a picture of the topics and content to deliver at each stage.
The more you know (about your customer).
Granted, we’re talking about cold calling here, but you shouldn’t make any assumptions about the prospect’s availability or what’s going on in their business.
Do some quick research on LinkedIn to get a sense of what kind of pain points this prospect (and their company) is dealing with. Premium account holders can see insights such as department distribution, growth rate, and turnover.
It’s also smart to look at the company website. Beyond giving you more info about what the company does, you might be able to find hours of operation or mentions of things like their “great remote work” benefits.
Based on these clues, you can start to piece together what times of day this person gets to the office, when they leave, and so on.
If you have clients or in-progress deals in a similar industry, check your CRM records to find out what times have worked best in the past.
You'll want to identify the following pieces of information:
- What time do most people answer the phone most?
- Is there any variation by industry or prospect's role?
- Are there certain times that yield better outcomes?
Of course, there may be additional criteria that help you uncover the context needed to deliver the best possible outcome. Check out our article on augmented productivity to see how Copper’s insights can help you plan your outreach efforts and customize your offer.
The best time to cold call should be for your buyer, not you.
Sales reps spend a lot of time listening to dial tones, leaving voicemails, and striking out with gatekeepers. Failing to consider the best time to cold call means that you lose out on opportunities to connect with prospects, close deals, or follow-up at the perfect moment.
Remember, your CRM can help you map out the times that work best for your industry, your prospects, and your close rates. If there are times that you just can't get through, turn your focus toward crafting emails, writing sales pitches, doing research... you get the idea.
Stressing about timing might not be worth the energy. By all means, look for patterns and do your best to respond quickly, add value where you can, and always, always, follow up.