How Long Should You Wait Between Calls to Sales Prospects?

Sean Lund-Brown

Timing is everything. In business, that includes returning and following up on sales calls and other communications. And of course, on today’s Internet, everyone seems to be an expert and yet everyone has a different opinion, it seems, about the best practices for sales prospecting. Fortunately, we’ve taken the work out of this one for you. 

It's not expected that you’ll reach a sales prospect on the first try. Some research suggests it could take as many as 18 calls before you reach a prospect on the phone for the first time. This, of course, depends on many variables and is just one example of why it can be difficult for companies to understand the prospecting game. 

In this brief guide, we’ll cover everything that you need to know about making sales calls, and more importantly, making sales calls that count. Although every business will have a slightly different strategy, there are definitely some tips and best practices that can help you along the way. 

Before we get to that, let’s take a quick look at the state of sales, by the numbers. 


Quick sales statistics


According to HubSpot and Spotio:

  • 40% of all salespeople say prospecting is the most difficult part of their job. 
  • Currently, only 3% of all consumers trust sales representatives. 
  • 80% of sales require at least five follow-up calls, while as many as 44% of sales agents give up after a single follow-up (two total calls). 
  • Buyers report being more likely to accept a sales call if it’s made at a previously agreed-upon time. 
  • It can take as many as 18 calls to connect with a buyer

The case for sales calls can be confusing. However, it helps to know where things stand so that you know where to go from here. And in answering the question of how long to wait between calls, you can see there are a lot of stats to help you there, too. 

Now, let’s talk about actually reaching out and making sales calls. 


Making the call 


When you make the first call, you’ll want to be fully prepared for any outcome. Be just as ready to have the call picked up and deliver your greeting as you are to leave a message and try again later. And there’s the million-dollar question—how much later?

Every prospect and customer will be different, as is usually the case with just about everything. However, when you make an initial call, you want to make sure that you’re ready to open the floor to a new relationship and potential new customer. Too often, salespeople go straight to the close, which causes them to be shut down before the caller even knows what they’re being sold. 

If someone doesn’t answer the first time, you should leave a message if there’s an option. Invite them to call you back or advise that you’d be happy to connect at a time that works for them. This way, you’re giving them options and a sense of control in the situation. Many people will change their decision simply by being offered a call back at a pre-arranged date and time. 


Follow-up by delivering on expectations


While most consumers expect an initial response from a company within 10 minutes or less, in most cases, they give a bit more leeway when it comes to ongoing contact and communications. Experts suggest that you should allow 48 hours after you call a prospect before you reach out again. This ensures that you allow time for their busy schedule. It also gives them time to consider your proposition or product/service and whether it’s something that they want or need. 

You can also let people know that they can reach out to you and that they can do so via several different mediums. And unless you’ve been specifically contacted and requested to return a call immediately, don’t call twice in the same day. It just leaves a bad taste in the consumer’s mouth because it often comes off as a bit too pushy. 

The sweet spot, it seems, is somewhere between 24 and 48 hours for secondary and subsequent follow-up calls. If you’ve called twice this week, you might want to wait until next week. It’s a balancing act of perspective here, of course, and you’ve got to see what works best for your business. By taking stock of how well your follow-up goes, you can often get a better idea of what works best for your team. 

Of course, one way to ensure that all calls are made (and received) in a timely fashion is to let someone else handle the work. Outsourcing gives you the chance to have a professional team on your side that understands all that comes with making effective follow-up sales calls, support calls, and more. If you decide that you’d rather leave the callbacks to someone else while you focus on your customers, that will ensure that every call is returned in the right amount of time and with the best possible outcome. 


Leave the best practices (and the back-and-forth of prospecting) to the dedicated team at Smith.ai


As a business owner or leader, you’ve already got a lot to handle on a daily basis. Instead of trying to figure out the perfect formula for following up on calls, why not spend your time with customers or handling other tasks instead? When you partner with the dedicated receptionists at Smith.ai, you can do that, and so much more. 

For starters, in addition to our 24/7 virtual receptionist services, we also offer a host of solutions for inbound and outbound calling and outreach. Each client gets a customized plan and a team of dedicated agents available to handle all kinds of incoming inquiries, outbound calling needs, and more. Plus, we’ll help you strategize to make sure it’s all perfect. 

To learn more, schedule a consultation to discuss what the 24/7 virtual receptionists at Smith.ai can do to improve your sales calling and more. You can also reach us at hello@smith.ai or (650) 727-6484.

Sean Lund-Brown

Sean Lund-Brown is a current Marketing Assistant for Smith.ai. A graduate from Metropolitan State University of Denver, Sean graduated with a BA in Music and an individualized degree in Teaching Vocal Pedagogy.

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