Almost 60% of C-suite execs prefer cold calls over other sales channels. 82% accept meetings and 18% convert from calls. And even though I’m a big fan of cold emails, sometimes you’ve just gotta hop on a cold call.
But you have to nail the timing to find that tried-and-true cold-calling success.
Study after study has shown there are good (and bad) times to make a cold call. So, if you’re struggling to get results, it might be time to check your watch before you dial the number.
Why Does Cold Call Timing Matter?
It’s no secret that cold calls are hard to pull off. It’s hard even to get your foot in the door when your prospect knows nothing about what you or what you offer. That’s why a lot of sales professionals tend to avoid them.
But take a look at these numbers:
You can 3x your sales just by adding cold calling to your strategy.
That’s the power of cold calling! If you’re not leveraging that power, you’re leaving deals on the table.
And the first step is nailing the timing. For example, if you call on the right weekday, you may have a 50% higher chance of making contact on the first try.
Building on that, you have a whopping 71% higher chance of getting an answer if you call at just the right time of the day.
However, the time of day even influences a prospect’s decision-making. If you’re reaching out to VPs or managers, there is a specific time slot that you should be targeting. You can’t just get a list of phone numbers and start dialing without understanding your prospects’ schedules and preferences.
At the very least, you should understand what the industry standards are for your target audience and then apply them to increase your conversion rates!
What Are the Best Days to Cold Call?
You can double your chances of getting through to your prospect if you call mid-week. More specifically, Wednesdays are the best day to cold-call.
The CallHippo study featured 30 weeks of data for thousands of companies. Here’s how the connect rates look through the workweek:
InsightSquared’s study shows that the connect rates peak on Tuesday and continue declining throughout the week.
Other studies point to Wednesdays or Tuesdays. Some even recommend Thursdays. But the consensus is that mid-week is the best time for a cold call.
The Monday Blues
Think about it: Mondays are likely spent rushing to plan the week and respond to all the piled-up emails.
The workload and interruptions are already contributing to their Monday Blues. They’re less open to hearing cold pitches, which leads to a considerably lower pick-up rate. If you make calls on a Monday, expect quite a few to be screened. However, a creative and optimistic approach might work.
Tuesdays Are Fine (and Wednesdays too)
Mid-week is when people have the time to think – and listen to your pitch. After Monday, people have dealt with backlogs and interruptions. So they can spare time and energy to hear your proposal, having built up that momentum.
Wednesdays and Tuesdays don’t just have a higher pick-up rate. They’re also when the calls run the longest - usually over five minutes. That means prospects are more attentive and receptive to pitches.
When you consider the higher connect rate and couple it with higher engagement, it’s clear how midweek is the optimal window for successful cold calling.
Should You Call on Fridays?
Finally, most people aren’t going to pick up your call on a Friday. They’re busy planning their weekend and likely focused on leaving the office as early as possible. That’s why Friday has the lowest pick-up rate of all weekdays.
(However, if you have to call on Friday, stick to the 10 AM to 12 PM slot to maximize your chances of connecting.)
And speaking of timing your call…
How to Perfectly Time Your Calls Throughout the Day
Take a look at this graph:
As you can see, early morning and late evening have the lowest pick-up rates. Mid-day (around 1 PM specifically) is another timeframe you should avoid. (You mostly want to avoid calling just before and after lunch.)
10 AM and 4-5 PM show the highest pick-up rate for cold calls.
The CallHippo study I already mentioned also identifies the 4 PM to 5 PM slot as the best time to call. The 10 to 11 AM is a close second. You can see how drastically pick-up times vary throughout the workday:
InsightsSquared suggests the 10 AM and 4 PM windows, too. However, their research finds that 10 AM performs better.
(It’s not surprising when you consider that 4 PM is when most people are either leaving or preparing to leave the office for the day.)
Ultimately, to get the most responses, you should call on Wednesdays and Tuesdays between 4 PM and 5 PM or 10 AM to 12 PM.
These peak times are when your prospect is most likely to convert.
But, of course, there is a lot more nuance to it than just pure stats.
Does the Early Bird Get the Prospect?
Morning calls have the second-highest pick-up rate during the day. Late mornings, around 10 AM to 12 PM, are excellent choices for prospecting.
This window is sandwiched between the early morning rush and the post-lunch lull. People have started building momentum in the late morning and usually expect meetings. It makes them more likely to entertain sales calls.
David Martirosian of Bigtimecloser swears by calling around 8 AM. He argues that business owners show up earlier than their employees. So, if you’re targeting business owners, dial them early in the morning. You should have a pretty good chance of getting in touch and convincing them to keep the conversation going.
Should You Cold-Call in the Afternoon?
Afternoon hours are arguably the best times to cold call.
Around then, most people have gotten high-priority tasks out of the way. They’re not engaged in deep work. They may even have some time to kill or to start low-priority tasks. Some might be preparing to wind down the work day.
The lower cognitive and professional workload could ease them into a more receptive mindset., so your call won’t be an intrusion.
Time your call to match up with your prospect’s ‘pre-winding down’ timeframe.
The afternoon is also a great time to schedule follow-up calls if you caught a key decision-maker earlier during the day and they’ve asked you to call them back later.
Are Evening Cold Calls Effective?
After 5 PM, pick-up rates start dropping and hit their lowest around 8 PM. Engagement also drops. This isn’t surprising since most people work 9-5 (or 8-4, depending on the locale).
(However, there might be some exceptions, which is where I need you to roll up your sleeves and get to know your prospects’ schedules.)
That said, if you do call after 5 PM, make sure it hovers around 6 PM. Typically, this will also depend on your prospects. Some work flexibly, so they’ll be available around 6 PM. Others might have checked out for the day.
(Business owners, as we know, never sleep.)
Ultimately, it all depends on your and your prospects’ work schedules. If they’re still working, they’ll be more likely to hear you out with a relaxed mindset after the brunt of their work is done.
Calling later in the day also gives you an edge over your competition because most sales reps don’t work after 5 PM.
How to Adjust Your Cold Call Time to Your Audience
Now, I crunched the numbers for the best cold call times and days across industries, companies and audience types. However, your mileage will vary depending on the audience you're trying to reach – and their industry.
Peak Times Across Industries
Every industry has its own peak time.
The 9-5 workday doesn’t typically bind real estate professionals. Try calling them between 4 PM and 6 PM.
For fintech and tech VPs, the best time to cold call is between 8:45 and 9:15. That’s when they have their daily scrum meetings. You can catch them as they’re warming up for the workday.
In addition to these two slots, you should try cold-calling insurance professionals between 4 PM and 6 PM.
Finally, the 4-5 PM and 10 AM to 12 PM slots are a great rule of thumb for most other sectors.
Peak Times Across Demographics
You should also consider who your audience is and what their work days look like.
If you’re trying to sell to stay-at-home parents or those who work from home, try calling after they finish their morning routine or before they have to pick up their kids from school.
Research shows that the best time to reach out to senior executives and decision-makers is between 3 PM and 6 PM when they’re through with their key meetings.
Middle-aged professionals are more likely to accept calls after regular work hours than Gen-Z and Millennial prospects (it’s a whole different mindset), so try reaching out to them between 5-7 PM.
Don’t Forget to Follow up!
Finally, your chances of connecting increase exponentially with multiple tries.
Once you’ve identified the optimal time to make the cold call, space out your calls over the next few weeks around the same time. You have an overwhelming 90% chance of connecting on the sixth try.
The problem is, sales reps give up way too quickly on leads. Fortunately for you, you can reap the benefits because your contact rate goes up by 70% with repeat attempts.
However, remember to keep your follow-up comms polite and don’t call more than six times.
What Are the Worst Times to Cold Call?
Mondays and Fridays are one of the worst days to contact leads. They’re busy planning their week or their weekend or they’re focused on high-priority tasks.
(The same goes for weekends. Saturday and Sunday are the absolute worst days to make a cold call. For most prospects, the weekend is personal time. They don’t really care about your pitch unless it’s truly groundbreaking.
However, that doesn’t mean you can’t send a phenomenal cold email.)
Calling before 8 AM will likely annoy your lead.
Similarly, most people take their lunch breaks or wrap up their unfinished tasks between 12-3 PM, so avoid pinging them during that timeframe.
Similarly, be mindful of your prospect’s typical work hours. If they don’t work after 6 PM, don’t disturb them during their family time.
Avoid major holidays, but minor federal holidays are still game if the company is open. They might be dealing with a lighter workload and getting fewer calls, making them more receptive to your offer.
Know Your Prospect’s Schedule (and Adjust Accordingly)
With that, we’ve completed our deep dive into timing cold calls! I hope these insights will help you create a high-performing call calendar at the start of the month (when businesses are more receptive to sales calls).
Then, reach out to leads during peak times, around 4 PM to 5 PM and 10 AM to 12 PM (for most industries). Preferably on Wednesdays!
However, remember that everyone’s prospects are different. If your prospects work from home and their work hours are flexible, getting in touch with them on a 4-hour Friday in the early morning when they’re ready to kick back and relax might earn you a green light.
Alternatively, if your prospect is a C-suite executive who refuses to touch anything work-related after 4 PM for their sanity’s sake, be respectful of their time and get in touch with them earlier in the day.
Ready, set, call!