Why These Are the Best Times to Call Prospects in 2020
Sales development and outbound prospecting are notoriously tough jobs, and any advantage you can leverage for more conversations has exponential results for quarterly revenue.
The impact of having more conversations goes beyond revenue; it also benefits increased salesperson retention and skill growth. As a result, sales leaders are prioritizing live call execution, according to the 2019 Sales Development Benchmark from TOPO.
At ringDNA, we’ve processed more than 130 million conversations, and we spend a lot of time optimizing sales workflows using data. One of the metrics our data scientists monitor regularly is the best time of day to call leads and prospects. Here we share some key insights from our “2020 Sales Prospecting Performance Report.”
When Is the Best Time to Call Prospects?
According to our research, the best time to call prospects is in the late morning (in their own time zone). These are the peak work hours for most working professionals before the inconsistency of lunch meetings and afternoon syncs. We theorize, based on the data, that professionals are more likely to answer the phones because this is the time of peak mental engagement.
Although connection rates steadily drop starting at 2 p.m., they spike dramatically after 5 p.m. This may be surprising, but professionals are more likely to answer the phone at the end of the day as they are wrapping up and heading home.
Here is a quick graph of our data on call connection rates during the typical nine working hours (localized to recipient time zone and compared against when calls are actually made):
When Can You Get the Best Pick-Up Rate?
Our data shows the peak time for the most phone answers happens at 11 a.m. in the local time zone of the call recipient. This has significant implications for how outbound prospecting salespeople and sales development reps (SDRs) schedule their days.
A common pitfall to watch for is salespeople taking lunch breaks during these peak hours, especially if they are calling into a different time zone than their own.
Additionally, if a salesperson is slow to get their day started and places most of their outbound calls in the afternoon, their effectiveness drops, as they’re not targeting optimal pick-up times.
This data doesn’t mean reps should avoid calling at non-peak hours. People still answer the phone throughout the day, but during these times, their likelihood is simply lower. The best way to use this data is to optimize your day around it, ensuring that scheduled call times take advantage of peak connection rates and time spent on other tasks—such as catching up on emails with prospects or researching new target accounts—happens during times of lower connection rates.
How Should You Handle the Post-5 p.m. Connection Rate Peak?
The “dark horse” of the call answer rate is post-5 p.m. dialing. If you contrast this with data on outbound calling, outreach drops dramatically from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m., and nearly disappears after 5 p.m. as salespeople pack up and go home. In other words, hardly anybody takes advantage of this calling time. On the prospect side, this is the time they are wrapping up their day, checking their work against their to-do lists, and tying up loose ends.
While this increased pick-up rate is valuable, it is also sensitive. Recipients may be frustrated that you are interrupting the wrap-up of their day, so prospecting callers need to approach this time with care. We recommend testing out acknowledging that you are calling after normal working hours in your introduction.
How Should Salespeople Schedule Their Day Based on This Information?
Since most salespeople don’t spend the entire day calling prospects, we recommend that salespeople “time-block” their day, meaning schedule half-hour to hourlong segments for a specific activity, such as outbound dialing, crafting messaging, or researching leads. This method of productivity allows salespeople to fine-tune their day around these optimal call answer times and their known times of peak productivity.
This method of scheduling the day is supported by psychology. According to the book Deep Work by Cal Newport, humans have only about four hours of maximum concentration available per day—that doesn’t mean we should only work for four hours per day, but rather we should schedule hours of “deep work” or maximum focus sprints, and vary that with time spent focusing on less mentally intensive effort.
Based on this data, salespeople should schedule their days where their “deep work” call blocks are centered around optimal pick-up times. This structure ensures reps are more mentally alert for the cognitively demanding task of conversations with prospects; less demanding tasks, such as crafting email messages or assessing performance metrics, can be fit in during times when the connection rate drops.
We advise companies to monitor their own connection rates, as answer rates may vary by industry. The global connection rate is an informative starting place, and as sales leaders continually monitor the data building from your own sales performance metrics over time, they can optimize the team’s call blocks based on their own connection rates.
Salespeople who do not optimize their day for performance are automatically behind their competition. Live call execution requires a good connection rate; a good connection rate means that reps have more conversations with prospects and customers and waste less time on no-answer calls and voicemails.
Research consistently shows that salespeople struggle to optimize their day. The latest State of Sales report from Salesforce demonstrates that most reps spend 65 percent of their time on non-sales activities. They generally don’t give much thought to what time they are sending an email or reaching out by phone. Beginning to optimize the day around peak call answer rates is a great start to reversing this trend. As one part of the daily schedule is optimized, other opportunities for optimization become apparent, allowing sales leaders chances to realize dramatic improvements in the sales process for the sake of driving more opportunities and revenue over time.
Alex Lamascus is senior content marketing manager at ringDNA.