When is the best time to make sales prospecting cold calls?
To find out, we launched a major study in 2019, mining call data from millions of sales calls to uncover which times of day are ideal for key sales activities, including the best time to make cold calls.
Below, we’ll reveal the results of that study. But far more importantly, we have some new findings fresh for 2022 that just might shake up when you go after your best leads.
Knowing when prospects are most likely to pick up the phone is critical. Even reps that dial all day long, should always be prioritizing their hottest outbound prospects during times when they are most likely to engage. Sales sequencing technology has made it easier than ever to schedule calls (and other sales outreach like emails and texts) during those key windows.
Experts agree, sales leader research from TOPO (now part of Gartner) reveals that sales leaders are prioritizing live call execution as the most important skill of new sales people. That is a leading indicator of the fact that sales development teams are still seeing cold calling as a valuable channel. The best time to make cold calls is an important part of live call execution, as calling at the right time can maximize your answer rate, thereby maximizing your sales conversations and ultimately opportunities.
Since we provide the industry’s top sales dialer and sales cadence solutions, our customers often ask us for best practices around outbound prospecting. One of the questions we get asked most frequently is “when should my reps dial their best prospects.” We thought it would be helpful to analyze and surface call data from our own team. After all, what’s true for our own sales team could potentially be true for your team.
We worked with our Senior Director of Revenue Operations Jordan Henderson to look at call connection rates by time over the past 90 days. And the results were incredibly interesting, because as you’ll see below, they don’t line up with the results from our broader 2019 study. This could potentially correlate with a change in behavior among key decision makers.
So what did we find from looking at our own team’s dialer and sequence call data?
It appears that decision makers are more likely to engage in the late afternoon. With peak engagement during the 4-5pm hour. This window is followed closely by the 3-4pm and 5-6pm hours.
So what is the takeaway? Sales teams should consider scheduling outbound calls and sequence actions with top targets during late afternoon windows (3-6 pm in their own time zone).
When we saw these results, we wanted to share them with you right away, since they run counter to our 2019 study. We are still going to share those results with you, since they reflect a larger study across numerous industries. But you should consider, especially if you’re selling SaaS software like we do, experimenting with late afternoon call blitzes to top leads.
In B2B Sales it’s crucial to remember that your prospects have a job to do as well. And when they are laser focused on doing that job, they are going to be less likely to pick up their phone to chat with a stranger. In the late afternoon, Slack threads are going quiet, and requests from co-workers are likely dying down. It’s less likely that your prospect will be on a Zoom call. As such, if they are going to pick up their phones at all, this seems like a window when they’ll be open to it.
Is the late afternoon the only good time to connect with prospects? Let’s take a look at our 2019 data to see another potential window for successful cold calling.
In 2019, our research showed that the best time to call prospects (in their own time zone) was in the late morning.
Cold calling in the morning makes sense for several reasons. Working professionals start their day at varying times, but the majority are in the office by the late morning.
While meetings often get booked during these hours, that means this is the time of day that professionals are expecting to hear from people, which may make them more likely to answer the phone.
Check out this chart for a detailed breakdown:
Keep in mind that this data is for all calls made through the Revenue.io platform in 2019 – that includes calls made between business professionals who have pre-existing relationships. For most sales reps, a more helpful chart would be to examine cold calls specifically (see our recent 2022 research above).
According to our 2019 call data, the best time to cold call was shown to be 9am in the call recipient’s local time zone.
Call connection rates were highest between 8am-11am in the time zone of the person receiving the call.
That means that sales development reps or anyone making prospecting calls could try structuring their day by prioritizing morning sessions for call blocks with their dialer or sequence tools during these windows.
Check out this chart for a detailed description of when most teams make cold calls and when prospects are picking up the phone, according to our research.
Sales reps shouldn’t necessarily avoid making calls during times of lower connection rates – those lower connection rates are simply times when prospects are less likely to pick up the phone, but that doesn’t mean they will never answer the phone at that time. The idea is simply to prioritize the best prospects for windows in which they are most likely to pick up.
The best time to make prospecting calls during the day is whenever your target leads are picking up the phone. This means it is very important to structure your day according to your sales territory’s working hours, and make your calls during their peak connection rates. For example, if you are based on the east coast of the United States but calling in to the west coast, the data shows that you should begin making your prospecting calls at 11am, and continue calling through 6 or 7pm to ensure you are taking full advantage of the times that your prospects are answering the phone.
The worst time to call prospects is outside of working hours. During these times, not only are connection rates lower, but a phone call is likely to bother your prospects. Calling prospects during their personal time is usually inadvisable.
During working hours, the worst time to call prospects is around 1pm. Depending on their work day, most prospects are spending time eating out with colleagues, taking a break, or getting some much needed focus time during these hours.
This answer rate also coincides with the energy drop-off that research shows is common among working professionals just after lunch. Many of us experience an energy lull during this time, and it makes sense that we are less willing to engage with someone unknown on the phone at this hour.
Now that we have worked through several different ways to think about optimal times to cold call businesses and prospects, what do we do with the information?
Our best advice for sales reps looking to reach more customers consistently is to schedule the day around call blocks, and treat these metrics as benchmarks.
For time blocks, set aside an hour at a time for your prospecting calls, several times throughout the day. If these are just standard call blitzes or steps in a sales cadence, ensure that you have your prospect lists ready to go, with phone numbers, names, and all of the contextual history of their engagement with your company. Then, when the time of your scheduled call block arrives, you are ready to begin dialing through your list and don’t have to waste your time doing prospect research.
There are many pitfalls that can capture a salesperson’s time, keeping them from spending their focused effort where it matters. If you can keep the discipline of call blocks during peak connection times, you are more likely to reach your customers and generate more opportunities for your pipeline.
Keep in mind that these data points are best used as benchmarks – in other words, they are a helpful starting place for making decisions about how to spend your time. As a part of your sales management process It is extremely important that you begin collecting your own data about peak connection rates, as your specific market and target audience will have nuances and differences from data points generalized across many industries.
Whether you find the best results in the late morning or the afternoon could depend on so many factors. But it’s important to experiment and, most of all, measure results by time of day. The Revenue.io platform makes it easy to track call connection rates by time of day. In fact, we deliver turnkey reports that teams can start using almost instantly.
At Revenue.io, we’ve processed hundreds of millions of sales conversations, and we spend a lot of time optimizing our own team’s sales workflows using data. That means we have spent a lot of time researching and understanding cold calling. This metric is just the tip of the iceberg.
Here is more original research and thought leadership that you can use to take your prospecting game to the next level.
In addition to getting pipeline and benchmark averages from over 200 companies, we found that there’s a sweet spot for how much pipeline and revenue your sales reps should create (if you go past it you’ll actually create less revenue).
So if you want to start counting sheep instead of pipeline numbers, this is the report you need to put all your sales worries to bed.
48% of B2B companies now have a RevOps function. We can practically hear you asking: Is that a lot? Has it changed much from last year? Why and how are all these companies going with RevOps? Is it worth it?
To answer at least a couple of those questions, 48% is a lot! And it’s up 15% from last year. Inside the report, you’ll find answers to all the other questions too (and some interesting findings about what’s actually standing in the way of cross-departmental alignment – but we’ll let those be a surprise).
Gartner predicts that 75% of B2B sales organizations will augment traditional sales playbooks with AI-powered guided selling solutions by 2025.
Because these solutions minimize the guesswork of sales, you can execute the perfect playbook every time. …But what does a perfect playbook look like?
Using the best practices we’ve gained from helping hundreds of customers find success with Guided Selling, our best-in-class sequencing tool, we’ve put together a list of the greatest hits to help you reach your revenue goals.
Check out this masterclass that we did last year with Stu Heinecke. He shows how he got a 100% response rate (yep, you read that right) from a cold outbound prospecting campaign.
Jesse WestDirector of Lifecycle MarketingringDNA
Jesse Davis West is Director of Lifecycle Marketing at ringDNA, focusing on improving the experience and maximizing the lifetime value for customers across their entire journey. Drawing on 9 years of B2B marketing experience, Jesse is passionate about communication, branding and strategic marketing. He also plays a mean lead guitar and can throw down at karaoke.