With more than 90% of sales made during a follow-up contact, it’s incredibly important to know the best time to call leads back. Giving some thought to when and how you’ll contact new leads or follow up with old ones can have an amazing impact on your bottom line. Think about how to sell insurance policies to customers effectively. Answers will vary, depending on the customer.
Knowing the right answer for a particular customer is all part of good sales pipeline management — being able to speak directly to leads, without the worry of calling at a time that is annoying or inconvenient for the lead. But it’s not as easy as choosing one standard time for all leads, no matter your line of business.
1. Cold-Calling Leads
The perfect time for cold calling a prospect you don’t know is anyone’s guess. You don’t know your lead, or much of anything about them, so it’s hard to determine the best timing for your call. However, it is possible to make some educated guesses and look to industry data for help.
First, the traditional sales advice. If you’re cold-calling a business, Monday mornings are usually hectic and Friday afternoons are usually understaffed. It’s best to avoid both. Traditionally, the middle of the week is better, particularly early in the work day, when decision-makers’ minds are fresh. If you’re cold-calling a residence, calling before 8:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m. are almost universally out of the question. Pay attention to your lead’s time zone, if it differs from your own, and figure out your prospect’s local time before you dial. The noon hour is also not ideal for outbound calls.
Now let’s look at some industry data. As science and data become more dominant in sales, this info matters more and more. According to the Harvard Business Review’s survey of more than 100,000 call attempts over three years, Wednesday and Thursdays are the best days to make contact, with Thursday twice as productive as Tuesday. Between 4:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. was the best time of day to call; the second best time was between 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m.
2. Warm-Calling Leads
Of course, not all your calls will be with leads where you have no connection. There tends to be less guess work with warm leads — those you met at a business dinner or who’ve requested a call through your online lead magnet. When possible, ask warm prospects about the best time to call. This can easily be worked into a natural conversation at a dinner or event, and you can ask for this info on your lead form for those web leads.
Digging back into the data, the Harvard study notes Wednesday and Thursday are the best days for qualifying leads for which you don’t have this info. Another dataset, the Lead Response Management study by MIT Fellow Dr. James Oldroyd, goes further, identifying Wednesday as by far the best day for qualifying the lead from an initial call. Thursday was a better day to take contacted leads to a qualification. And the Harvard study showed a huge 164% difference for qualifying success in the late afternoon, versus early afternoon.
3. Lead Nurturing
An important part of following up is lead nurturing. It’s not just that you call your lead back that matters — it’s that you nurture that lead through your sales funnel to a closed sale. Sales is a place where it’s true both that the early bird gets the worm, and that slow and steady wins the race.
The Lead Response Management study notes that the likelihood of qualifying a lead decreases rapidly because leads who are asking for a query are most ready to buy in that moment. The odds of easily getting a lead on the phone drop by 1000% after an hour. If you call three days later? Several thousand times fewer odds of qualifying that lead.
Of course, most salespeople are calling leads more than an hour after their query. So it’s at this point that slow and steady beats the early bird. Harvard’s survey says persistence is key. A mind-boggling 30% of leads are never contacted at all. Fewer than 5% of agents call a lead more than four times. Most give up too soon. Harvard’s survey says agents can experience a 70% increase in contact rates by just making a few more calls — at least six calls ideally.
Follow-Up Tools and Tactics
Of course, the more calls you make to the same leads, the more opportunity there is to mix up prospects or forget what your last call was about. This does no favors for your sales growth, so it’s crucial to keep your follow-up work organized.
A CRMS system is a must. Preferably, you want ones like Radius or AgencyBloc, that lets you document each contact with your lead, will give you calendar reminders when it’s time to follow up, and gives you the option to email your followups as well.
An autodialer is very helpful as well. When you’ve set aside time to call leads, new or follow up, a dialer like Velocify or CallFire can help you work through 400% more leads. Special cloud-based predictive dialer software can make a fast work of your leads.
A script tool like SalesScripter can help you further automate your follow-up work, creating a library of sales tools and templates custom-tailored to your business’s services and product lines. Tools like these can make fast work of email templates as well as fine-tuned call scripts.
Put together and used with the right tactics, these sales tools will help you make the most of your follow-up sales calls. After all, it’s not just about calling back, and it’s not just about timing. The best sales growth goes to agents who build relationships with prospects and move them through the sales funnel effectively.
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