When is the best time to make a sales call?
Is there a ‘best time’ to make a sales call? I guess, in practice, it’s when your prospect or customer is available and in buying mode! But, that’s a pretty hard thing to establish unless you have the world’s most effective crystal ball.
I often hear statements such as “We should never call on a Friday afternoon as a lot of people leave early” Or, “Don’t call at lunchtime as everyone is out”. Another good one is “Never call first thing Monday morning as people are just back in from the weekend and sorting out their week”.
I’ve also heard “August is a bad time since people are away”. And, “Forget calling between the last week of December and the second week of January as people shoot off early for Christmas and some come back late.”
Don’t let limiting beliefs derail your sales efforts
If I had a pound for every time I’ve heard those comments over the past 17 years, I probably wouldn’t need to run my business. I could retire on these earnings.
What’s more, it isn’t just customers that tell me. I’ve had telemarketers come to me and tell me dejectedly ‘no-one is in today’. I love that comment and my initial reaction is always to say:
“What, no one at all? No-one is in the office in any of the companies you’ve called? And, is that definitely 100% going to be the case for the whole day?”
Very regularly, they see the absurdity of what they’ve said and, lo and behold within no time at all, up pops a fresh hot new business appointment!
The issue I have with all of the above is that they are what are called ‘Limiting Beliefs’. Now, I’m no expert on Neuro Linguistic programming and limiting beliefs (which is from where the expression comes), but we all make assumptions about things that risk being fundamentally wrong. And, sales is a discipline where this is often the case and this is a seriously flawed strategy.
Check out our video on ‘Are you making excuses for your lack of growth?’
Play the numbers game
You need to play the numbers game. Whilst there may be some evidence to support the fact that you’re going to get a higher proportion of people away on holiday in August, or if you call at 5.45 on Christmas Eve, that doesn’t mean everyone is away. And, whilst business perhaps slows down in August and at Christmas, sometimes that means we have more time to talk. And, in traditionally quiet periods, does it definitely mean that those you manage to speak to won’t be at all receptive? Where is all of that written in the stars?
We had an occasion where a prospect, for one of our clients, answered the phone on Christmas Eve (after umpteen previous calls over several weeks which were supposed to be prime calling hours) and said to our telemarketer “Oh, go on then. The mince pies and mulled wine have just come out in the office. Let’s get a date in the diary for January”.
The fact is that if you make sufficient calls, you will reach enough people whichever time of the day or year you call.
Quieter periods offer opportunities
Now, I’m not saying we’ve just uncovered the answer to all lead generation puzzles. But, what I am saying is that it’s a fallacy to think that no-one is in over the lunch period. Sometimes, like right now as I’m writing this blog, business people are sitting at their desk over lunch, grabbing some soup and a sandwich (and an apple and an orange in my case as I have a healthy appetite) and checking emails or browsing LinkedIn. They’re reading blogs (hopefully like this one) and will, therefore, be more likely to pick up the phone than when head down in an important task or when they’re in interminable meetings. The recipient of your call may well be more open to talking than at busier times.
For B2B calling as opposed to B2C, where high volumes of calls may well lead to KPIs that inform and drive future call scheduling and staffing levels, ratios just don’t support the fact that there are perfect times to call and times to absolutely avoid picking up the phone.
Trial and error
What we do know is that if you concentrate all of your efforts on calling at times that historically have proven unsuccessful, then it isn’t a limiting belief that’s your problem. It’s more like to be the madness of doing the same thing over and over, failing, and expecting different results. Of course, business development, like most things, is about trial and error. It’s about testing the best approach. It’s about evaluating what works and what delivers the best return on investment.
But, my message is to not be fooled into thinking all lead generation stops for Christmas parties (even big companies only have one party if I’m not mistaken) mince pies and mulled wine. Yes. More people may be at lunch with suppliers and customers over the festive season. But, if you halt all new business efforts until the New Year, be aware that your successful and active competitors won’t be thinking that way! And, you could lose out as they look more keen to win the business.
So, don’t let limiting and incorrect assumptions get in your way about the “best” time to make a sales call. Just get on and make those calls.