Sales Management Digest

Excellent Tips for Timing Your Sales Calls
Matt Tuson
Do you routinely block out time for call prospecting each week? Chances are, if you do, you'll pick a time that suits your schedule.

But this can be a huge mistake. Though it may be convenient for you, the real question you should ask is whether it's convenient for your prospect.

Are You Calling Prospects at the Right Time?
A study from MIT analyzed thousands of B2B calls to identify the best times to call a prospect – not only when you're most likely to get through to them, but also when they're most likely to be receptive to your pitch. MIT's research showed that between 4:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. is the optimum time to make contact with a lead.

While this is typically a time when people are switching off and thinking about going home, this "switch off" can actually be a benefit to you. If they're wrapping up their own work for the day, they may be more receptive to something new. Think about it this way: if they've gotten through everything they had planned to do that day, they're more likely to listen to what you've got to say. That's why calling at this time is 114 percent more effective than between 11:00 a.m. and noon.

Conversely, the absolute worst time to call is between 1:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. – when offices across the country are experiencing their post-lunch slump.

Early morning calls can also be effective. Between 8:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m., the day is just starting and many people haven't gotten stuck into a task yet, so a call at this time can reach a prospect when they're open to something new.

As well as these general peak times, some experts also suggest that calling around five minutes before the top of the hour can catch executives when they're between tasks or meetings.

The day of the week you pick has an impact, too. According to the research, Wednesdays and Thursdays are the best days to call – producing almost 50 percent better results than Tuesday (the worst day).

How to Time Your Calls Perfectly
The best times and days of the week mentioned above are, of course, averages, and not necessarily true for every business and individual. So, to be sure you're timing your calls perfectly, it's important to try out different times and days you think might work – and record the results.

Using this data, you can identify the best times to call prospects in your industry. Simply work out how many calls you made in an hour, compared with how many actually led to a conversation with a prospect. From that, you can see how your success rate compares from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. – and from Monday to Friday.

You can also use this data to make your calls with existing customers more efficient. For instance, say you need some information from a customer to complete a deal. You'll want that resolved quickly – and that means no voicemail messages or "I'll call you backs," which could drag the process out. If you know when is best to call them, you could speed up the whole process.

Choosing Who to Contact When
It's obviously important to respond to prospects in a timely manner if they've shown interest in your business. However, there is a fine line here between helpfulness and annoyance. You need to distinguish between different types of interest. For instance, if a prospect is making an inquiry into your services, the quicker you can respond the better – as they'll appreciate your speedy service and your product or service will still be fresh in their mind, ready for discussion.

However, if they are just downloading a white paper, they may not want you to ring immediately.

Only communicate with potential leads straight away if you think they would appreciate a swift response. If not, you may need to use some "lead nurturing" tactics first.

It's important to understand how your prospect's office works and the schedule they work to, so you stand the best chance of making a connection.

Once you've established your high-value time, you can protect these slots in your schedule and work around your prospects – instead of any internal tasks. After all, you can put in the hours at your end, but, if there's no one listening on the other end of the phone, you're wasting your time.

Matt Tuson is executive vice president of sales at NewVoiceMedia.
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