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What's the Best Time to Call a Prospect?

Let's suppose that you've got a hot prospect on your call list. The prospect has visited your website, and has left information that suggests he's interested in your firm's offerings.

However, you have no idea when that prospect will be available to take a call. And you don't want to play phone tag. Do you know the best times to get through? Here's your first question:


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BTW: Long time Sales Machine readers will ace this quiz, since it's based on a post from the blog's salad days.


The correct answer is Thursday.
Dr. James Oldroyd from the Kellogg School of Management recently examined the electronic logs of more than a million calls to prospects, made by thousands of sales professionals inside around 50 companies. He then applied statistical measurements to extract patterns of success and failure.

He discovered that Thursday is the best day to contact a lead in order to qualify that lead. In fact, it is almost 20 percent better than Friday, which is the worst day. All the other days fall somewhere in between.

OK, now that you've got the right day to call...

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Just as some days are better than others, when it comes to getting through to prospects, some hours of the day are better.

There are, of course, many theories about what works.

For example, I once heard it suggested that the best time to call is during lunch hour, because then the prospect is more likely to answer his own cell phone. But that's just anecdotal advice. We're talking science here.

So here's your next question:


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The correct answer is Early Morning (8-9am) followed closely by Late Afternoon (4-5pm). (Needless to say, I'm referring to the prospect's time zone, not your own!)

Oldroyd's study revealed that the absolute worst time to call is right after lunch. In fact, an early morning cold call is 164 percent more likely to qualify a lead than one made from 1-2pm.

OK, now that you're calling at the right time and day, there's one rule that trumps everything else. If you're interested, read on...

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A special rule applies when you're gathering your leads in "real time." This usually happens online, when a potential customer visits your website, although it can happen when a customer responds to an ad or direct mail by giving your firm a call.

Obviously, you're more likely to qualify the lead if you get back to the prospect quickly. But how quickly is quickly enough?


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For most B2B markets, the correct answer is one hour, after which the lead is no longer "hot." It's still a lead, but it's no better than any old lead taken from a list.

Oldroyd's study revealed that, in B2B selling environments, the best odds of qualifying a lead happen within 20 minutes after interest is shown. However, calling within 5 minutes is 21 times more likely to result in a qualified prospect than if you wait half an hour.

Some industries aren't quite so time-sensitive. In financial services, for example, as long as you call a hot lead within 24 hours, you still have a chance to qualify the lead and move it into your pipeline.

But that's the exception rather than the rule, and calling quickly is ALWAYS massively more effective.

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Based on the above, here's exactly what you do:
  • STEP 1: Reschedule. Schedule your customer calls early morning or late afternoon, preferably on Thursday, but avoiding Friday, especially Friday afternoon.
  • STEP 2: Prioritize. If you've got leads streaming in from your web site ALWAYS make those calls first. For other leads on your list, call the most recently-harvested ones first.
  • STEP 3: Adapt. If you find that you can't reach the prospect, go ahead and leave a voice mail. Here's a post that can help: How to Use Voice Mail To Sell
CLICK HERE for a summary of the polls and correct answers... »

POLL #1
The correct answer is THURSDAY.
POLL #2
The correct answer is Early Morning (8-9am) followed closely by Late Afternoon (4-5pm).
POLL #3
The correct answer is one hour.
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