What Is Predictive Dialing and Is It Better for Your Team Than Progressive or Preview Dialing?

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For too many years I have watched really smart business people who have an Inside Sales team get focused on “dials-per-hour” as they go on a quest for new software. 

I expected it back in the ‘80s, but today?  Come on!  

It is as though the god of metrics gets into their head and says, “Go forth and dial more, young man.”  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. The last time I checked, no one has ever sold anything dialing the phone. 

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 opinion about each. 

What Is Predictive Dialing?

Let me say from the outset that 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.  

I know – it really sounds great, but you know a predictive call when you get one, and if you are like most Americans, you are not too happy to receive 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, very annoying, and not very professional.  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.

I guess many years ago an argument could be made that predictive dialing had its place for credit card calling, magazine sales, and home improvement type calls.  These were calls where whoever answered the phone was likely to be qualified, and the database was large enough that the abuse 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.  OK – I said I am not a fan, which is why I won’t be discussing its potential advantages because they’re outweighed by its numerous disadvantages. 

What Is Progressive Dialing? 

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 the next-best-call logic, 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? 

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 call back is routed it will not autodial until the rep has reviewed his or her notes.

Choosing the right auto-dialing software for your business 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.  It will not do you any good because it can’t navigate the voice prompts.  If your brand is important and you are not simply dialing anyone who will answer and hoping 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.

Above all measure and monitor everything before and after your selection.  Without knowing where you have been, it is hard as heck to know where you are.

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