Back in the ‘80s, it was a common strategy to have your Inside Sales team focus on “dials-per-hour” as they go on a quest for new software. But in this day and age, this metric is completely outdated and obsolete.

It was not about the dials in the ‘80s, and it is certainly not about the dials today.  

If we bear in mind that it takes about 8 cold calls before you reach a prospect, it’s clear that you need to make this process as efficient and effective as possible. 

It is about one thing and one thing only: leveraging a sales platform that can deliver the most quality conversations per hour with the best-qualified prospects. 

But then, another problem ensues – how to pick the right platform. There are three options, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages: predictive, progressive, and preview dialing platforms. 

Here’s a description of all three, together with my unbiased opinion about each. 

What Is Predictive Dialing?

I must admit I have never been a fan of predictive dialing. For those of you new to the conversation, predictive dialing is a platform where multiple lines are dialed at one time, answering machines are screened, and live answers are routed to waiting reps. 

We have to admit that it really sounds great, but you know a predictive call (and aren’t particularly happy) when you get one. 

Your phone rings, you answer and say hello, and there is a delay.  Then a rep beeps in and tries to figure out who just got connected to them.  

It is very impersonal, annoying, and highly unprofessional. Predictive dialing sends hundreds of thousands of people a night running for the phone only to answer it and find no one there. Additionally, a company that utilizes predictive dialing has to incur additional telecom costs from their hosted dialer provider.

Predictive dialing might have had its place for credit card calling, magazine sales, and home improvement-type calls in the past. These were calls where whoever answered the phone was likely to be qualified, and the database was large enough that unsolicited calls would do little harm.

But with today’s sophisticated databases, well-qualified targeted lists, social media, and tough federal regulations that govern the practice of using predictive dialers, it seems like a practice whose time has passed. 

So, what’s the biggest problem with predictive dialing? 

This system works by anticipating when a sales rep will be free and dials a number based on this prediction. In other words, there’s no confirmation that there actually are any available agents to take the call. And, if there’s nobody to take the call, it’s perceived as dropped. 

Given that, according to TCPA regulations, the allowed dropped-call rate has to be below 3%, exceeding this number means you’ll be hit with a substantial fine or even that your lines will be shut down. 

It’s clear why I’m not a fan of this tactic, so I won’t be discussing its potential advantages as they’re outweighed by its numerous disadvantages. 

What Is Progressive Dialing? 

With predictive out of the picture, progressive dialing becomes the right choice for Inside Sales teams that need to make lots of list-based calls but do not need to do a major contact record review prior to the call being placed.  

Progressive dialing has a one-on-one relationship: caller-to-line dialed.  

It eliminates answer delays, hang-ups, and the non-professional approach of predictive dialing. Yet, it can still deliver big results.  

Progressive dialing, especially when powered by queue-based routing, takes advantage of two very important time savers.  

  • First, it leverages all of the time of the salesperson by dialing the next record the moment the prior record is placed into a disposition. This is a huge time saver and keeps a salesperson from scrolling around looking for the next call to make or, equally as important, finding some reason not to make the next call. 
  • Secondly, logic, based on the best practices of the sales organization, is applied to the records, and the next best call to be made is routed and dialed. This will give an amazing lift over manual or click-to-call dialing.

What Is Preview Dialing? 

This brings us to our final choice: preview dialing.  

Preview dialing is the perfect choice for Inside Sales campaigns where the rep making the call needs to review the record prior to the call being made.  

This is often used for more complex sales calls where prior contact may have been made. Valuable insight can be gained from a review of the record that will enhance the sales call, or a review may lead to social media connections prior to the dial.  

Additionally, preview dialing is used as part of most progressive dialing platforms to handle callbacks. When a callback is routed, it will not autodial until the rep has reviewed their notes.

Choosing the right auto-dialing software for your organization is best determined by who you are calling, how often, and how much knowledge your reps have to have prior to the connection.

Benefits of using preview dialing include:

  • Saving time is easy. Agents have the ability to review the contact’s relevant information before initiating the call – reducing call time and providing a better customer experience. As a result, your conversion rate will increase, meaning that your agents will sell better, convince donors to donate more, or achieve any other predefined goal.
  • Connecting is immediate. As previously mentioned, it’s not a good experience for your customers when they get a call and have to wait to be connected to a sales rep. Instead of making your customers wait to be connected, the rep is the one making the call and is ready to chat when the customer answers. So, instead of awkward silence that might prompt customers to hang up and abandon the call, you can start engaging them right away.
  • Humanizing the experience is seamless. People want to connect with people. By having that immediate connection over the phone, you’ve started a human-to-human conversation. No robots or recorded messages. Just two people starting a conversation.  

Tips for Using an Automated Dialing Platform Effectively 

Here are a few simple rules that will help you optimize your efforts and get the best results.

  • If you are calling businesses, forget predictive dialing. It will not do you any good because it can’t navigate the voice prompts. If you want to protect your brand and are not simply dialing anyone who will answer and hope for the best, then rule out predictive; choose progressive or preview.  
  • In addition to dialing, look for platforms that allow you to add in your own logic as to which leads or records get routed to dial. This will give you the double lift we spoke of.
  • To maximize the impact of an autodialer and turn it into a productivity booster, make sure to set clear, measurable goals aligned with your team’s capabilities and the autodialer’s functionalities. By setting targets for call volume, conversion rates, and quality conversations, teams can harness the full potential of this powerful technology. This focused approach will streamline operations, simultaneously providing valuable data for continuous improvement.
  • Clean CRM data is paramount to maximizing the efficiency and effectiveness of your autodialer system. Accurate and up-to-date contact information ensures that every call made is a step closer to a potential conversion rather than a wasted effort on disconnected lines or outdated numbers. Clean data enhances targeting precision, enabling personalized and relevant conversations that significantly boost customer engagement and satisfaction. Furthermore, it ensures compliance with regulations by avoiding calls to individuals who have opted out, thereby protecting your brand’s reputation. Regularly auditing and cleansing your CRM data not only streamlines your sales process but also optimizes your autodialer’s performance, turning every call into a valuable opportunity.
  • Training your team to leverage all the features and functionalities of the autodialer system is pivotal for making the most of its full potential. A well-trained team can effectively navigate the platform, optimizing its features to enhance customer engagement and improve conversion rates. Training should cover both the technical aspects of operating the autodialer and strategies for effective communication, handling objections, and personalizing calls to foster meaningful connections.
  • Above all, measure and monitor everything before and after your selection. Without knowing where you have been, it is impossible to know where you are and what you should do next.

Over to You 

Choosing the right dialer can be challenging since all solutions promise they will help you save time and rev up your speed to lead, but if you’re not careful, you can put yourself in hot water. To avoid the worst-case scenario of having your lines shut down or paying a small fortune in TCPA fines, stay away from predictive dialing. Preview dialing gives you the best of both worlds — you’ll both speed up your dialing efforts and minimize the dropped call rate. For situations when your sales reps need to familiarize themselves with the prospect, opt for preview dialing.

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