Starting on the right foot: Our guide to the best time to cold call
New parents would love a manual that clearly outlines the best way to calm a crying baby. Similarly, every salesperson alive would love to know the best time to cold call. Unfortunately, unless your sales manager has a crystal ball, you’re not going to get a definite answer on when to phone up your prospects. Instead, we’ve gathered expert insight into the question “When is the best time to cold call a prospect?” With answers ranging from the time of day to type of mood, these suggestions are just what you need to get a word in edgewise and hopefully close a deal.
Before we dig into our top cold calling tips, let’s identify when you should probably never ever reach out and pitch a prospect.
(Way) After hours
Some people are so dedicated to success that they’ll work 24/7. Some people succeed because they draw a very well-defined line between work and everything else. Step over that line by calling a prospect into the dinner hour or beyond and you could make a terrible first impression. You may have interrupted family time or simply inserted yourself into their life beyond business. If it’s past 7 PM their time (pay attention to time zones!) then wait until tomorrow.
(Very) Early in the morning
Cold calling early in the morning is risky for the same reasons as cold calling late at night. You’re a customer, not your prospect’s BFF. It’s important to be respectful of their time and boundaries. Violating that unspoken rule on day 1 could result in a fractured relationship before you even have a relationship to speak of. Just like dinnertime cold calls, try to avoid cold calling pre-breakfast; stick to after 8 AM their time.
Sure, calling on a Saturday means you won’t be competing with other salespeople for a moment of your prospect’s time. And there’s a reason for that. Even if you get straight to the point and never waver from your very professional script, cold calling on a weekend is unprofessional and risky.
Cold calling on a federal holiday makes you look out of touch. It doesn’t matter if it’s a strategic move on your part. It still seems like you either didn’t remember it’s a holiday or you just assumed your prospect would be working. Either way, you may not get the result you’re hoping for. Besides, there’s a reason deals tend to stall over the holidays, right?
When you’re following up bad news
Sales is not about products; it’s about people. Before you pick up the phone to call a customer, hit up Google. Take the time to research that customer, their company, and any current campaigns. If their organization has been in the news, you should know why. If that news is in any way negative, reschedule your call. The day after a member of the board passed away or the company stock took a nosedive is not a good day. It’s doubtful that decision makers are going to be eager to pursue a new partnership or spend money. Of course, this depends on what you sell, if you’re in the business of cybersecurity, sometimes the day after a hack is the perfect time to call.
When everybody else is calling
There’s a problem with reaching out to a prospect when experts say it’s the best time to cold call. Everyone else will be cold calling then too. Even the loudest voice won’t be heard if you can’t get a potential customer on the line.
Cold calls are never easy, but what if you can find a way to stack the deck in your favor? At least one study indicates that people are more likely to say yes when asked a question in the evening. That’s one scenario to try, but there are many other factors that could help you get the positive response you’re craving.
When the decision makers are in the office — and their assistants aren’t
Executive assistants are the gatekeepers of corporate America. It’s their job to filter the streams of information trying to get to their bosses and ensure only the important bits get through. If you don’t tick all the boxes on that checklist, your call is going to hit a dead-end quickly. But pick up the phone when the gatekeepers are away from their desks and you may have a fighting chance. Try outside the normal 9-5 or even early/later than the extended work hours of 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Most businesses are closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Not as many let their staff take off for Veteran’s Day. Schedule your cold calls for a holiday that’s not widely observed, and you may be able to beat your competition to the punch.
Time blocks that are typically less busy
According to a survey by staffing firm Accountemps, the most productive day of the week is Tuesday. Monday is second-best, and only 10% of people say Friday is their big get-it-done day. That makes sense. With the weekend looming, it’s easy to lose focus Friday afternoon and use that time to catch up on odds and ends. That’s also what makes Friday afternoon the perfect time to cold call. You’re less likely to interrupt meetings or other key tasks, and your prospects could be surprisingly receptive.
Whenever people might be happiest
Here’s another vote for Friday afternoons. People are happy that they’re going home for the weekend, and they might not want to end their week on a negative note. If you know your prospect’s company is having a fun event like a company picnic or mid-week retreat, calling after that could be a smart move, too.
Even all the expert tips in the world can’t give you an exact day and time that’ll ensure cold call success. The fact is that every person is different. Some prospects might answer in the middle of the day. Others might not. Some are early birds who can’t wait to tackle big subjects even though they’ve barely had their first sip of coffee. Other people might give you an automatic no just because you dared to call on a Friday afternoon when all they want to think about is leaving for their long-awaited fishing trip.
Even if you do get a no the first time you call, avoid getting caught up in negativity bias. Humans are hardwired to focus on negative stimuli, which is why we remember uncomfortable situations with greater clarity than positive ones. Buck the trend by brushing off less-than-stellar responses and choosing a new best time to call. After all, it only takes one yes to turn everything around.