Customer Experience News & Trends

The best, worst times to contact potential customers

Getting some phone time with busy people is a challenge. The challenge is a bit less daunting if you know the right times to reach out.

Dr. James Oldroyd at the Kellog School of Management studied the records of more than a million cold calls and came up with the following results:

  • Thursday is the best day to make a call. You’re 20% more likely to reach people than on the worst day, Friday. Other days were in the middle somewhere.
  • Between 8 am and 9 am is the best time to call, with between 4 pm and 5 pm the next best choice. In the 8-9 am time frame, you have a 164% better chance of reaching people than you do in the 1-2 pm period.

Why cold calling is essential

Research finds that 10%-15% of current customers are actively looking for a new vendor, and that 20%-30% more will listen to someone who can promise a better product, cheaper product, better delivery or superior service.

The simple truth is that cold calling pays – it’s a critical way for salespeople to uncover new, previously unidentified prospects, people who are unhappy with their current situation and are willing to listen of a better offer.

Let common sense be your guide

Common sense is a good rule to follow when scheduling your cold calls. Call when other salespeople won’t or during what they claim to be a bad time: around holidays, summer vacations and long weekends. Some salespeople write off these times by taking official vacation days or by mentally taking time off.

Business is still taking place

Some prospects may not be in, but business is still taking place and other buyers may be working. Their gatekeepers are out and they’re more apt to pick up the phone during these “slow” times.

Maybe they’re even in a receptive mood, since other salespeople may not be banging their doors down.

The wrong assumption

Salespeople who refuse to make cold calls during these traditional downtimes forget a basic rule of selling: If they’re not making cold calls, they have no chance of reaching those prospects and selling them.

Added benefits of cold calls

Besides generating some bona fide leads, cold calling will teach you to:

  • Be ready. Cold calling teaches you the value of every second a prospect affords you.
  • Be creative. Cold calling teaches you to be flexible and fluid in your approach to prospects.
  • Be fast. Cold calling teaches you to make your presentation concise, appealing, clear and simple.

Unconventional times to call

Here are three unconventional times to call that may pay off:

1.      After or before hours. Who’s normally working late or coming in early? Owners, executives, people who control purchasing.

2.      Weekends. Owners and key executives may be in their offices while their screeners aren’t working. They may be more relaxed during these times and can time more time to listen to you.

3.      Bad weather days. Pay attention to the weather in areas that you call into. Some salespeople make it a point to call in areas that have just been hit with a blizzard during the winter. They reach owners and executives who are in their offices and whose screeners aren’t working. A salesperson for Xerox set a sales record during a three-day snowstorm, while many of the businesses in his city were closed. Most of the gatekeepers stayed home during the blizzard, but their bosses were in, many of them prospects he had tried to reach unsuccessfully in the past.

Ritualizing your cold calling

Make an appointment with yourself to cold call during set times to which you commit on a regular basis. For some, it may be every day between certain hours, no exceptions.

For others, it may be one day a week. Though it may vary from one salesperson to another, the key is setting the time and then doing it.

Do nothing else

Make cold calls regularly and try not to do anything else during that time. Don’t check e-mail. Don’t write proposals. Stay in a zone during cold calls and don’t let administrative tasks get in the way.

When is the best time to cold call?

The best time to cold call is when you’re in a personal success zone. That’s the time when you have a string of very successful calls, you attitude is at its peak and everything falls in your favor.

So when you’re on a personal hot streak, try to keeping going. Don’t stop to dwell on the success too long. Take advantage of the groove you’re in and keep plugging away.

Adapted from Smart Calling: Eliminate the Fear, Failure, and Rejection from Cold Calling (Wiley, Hoboken, NJ) by Art Sobczak. Mr. Sobczak is president of Business by Phone, Inc., which specializes in helping salespeople maximize cold calls.

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