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When is the best time to contact a prospect? Here is the definitive answer

The research is wrong!

There have been numerous research studies, advice and opinion published on when is the best time to contact a prospect? And there is one thing that is the same in all the pieces: none of them agree on any time.

Some will tell you that it is 11.10am on a Wednesday morning (how did they manage to work out that every prospect is in a talkative and engagable mood at precisely that time?!). Others will say that it’s a Monday afternoon. (By the way, there may be loads of prospects who are ready to take calls and e-mails on a Monday afternoon, but never, ever try to contact me to sell me something at that time unless I gave you permission…)

But you are getting the common thread here: everyone has a different suggestion. And that is what has led me to create the definitive answer to the question “when is the best time to contact a prospect?”. If you were looking for a simple answer, be ready for crushing disappointment. Here goes:

When is the best time to contact a prospect: there is no correct time

It is simply not possible to generalise the answer to when is the best time to contact a prospect. Everyone is different. For a start we need to take into account that there are different habits and cultures in each country, market sector and type of company. And that’s before we think about the fact that everyone has individual preferences and that these days people rarely have two weeks that are the same.

So how do sales people make the best use of their time? How do they create the maximum success for contacting people? Here are seven tips to maximise your chances of engaging a prospect:

Call when you are not supposed to

Where much of the research about when is the best time to contact a prospect agrees is that no-one wants to speak to you on a Monday morning or a Friday afternoon. Bizarrely, those are some of the times when I get my best results! Perhaps it’s because nobody else is calling at that time. Calling after 5.30pm works pretty well for me as well: meetings have finished and other sales people have gone home

Mix up your calling times

If someone is no available when you call them at 11.10am on a Wednesday don’t try contacting them again at the same time next week. Try a different day and a different time. Sooner or later you will find the right time for that person. But remember that probably won’t be the best time for your other prospects.

Go multi-channel

Whenever I run my How To Stop Print Buyers Choosing On Price workshop I ask delegates how many ways they contact prospects. Nearly everyone falls far short of the ten different ways that I use. If someone ignores you when you call or e-mail, try something else. Use social media messaging or SMS or even post. You will usually get a response when you find a channel that resonates with them.

Have a great message

It doesn’t matter how good you are at getting through to people: your time is wasted if you simply give them a standard sales message that they have heard before. If you want to find out how to create a good message, invest in my book How To Stop Print Buyers Choosing On Price.

Be persistent

So many people give up after two or three attempts to contact someone. It usually takes a lot longer to get hold of a prospect and start a meaningful dialogue. Sometimes it takes me two or three years from the first engagement until the sale. But you’ll never make the sale if you give up too soon. (I should add that I qualify my prospects carefully to make sure that I am not wasting my time on people who are the wrong fit or who are not going to take the next step).

Run a sales diary

When I was a buyer, I often received calls from printing companies. Many of them called at the wrong time. I would tell them when I was next reviewing suppliers like them. But not even ten percent would call back at the right time. I often tell people to ring me back the following week and they either fail to contact me or get the time wrong. So run a sales diary to make sure that you never forget to call anyone again.

Just do it!

We can all spend a lot of time researching the best sales techniques. We can also be diverted by prospect research, managing current customers or just the general busy-ness of our jobs. Sometimes we manage our time badly. And sometimes we use all these reasons as an excuse not to call new prospects because it seems too scary. The best thing that we can do is to actually start making contact with people.

Here’s a quick action point for you

Try and make contact with at least five people today, and the same tomorrow. Choose a channel that you are comfortable with. Try social media or writing a note card if the phone and e-mail do not appeal. The most important thing is to take action.

If you reach out to ten people you have a reasonably good chance of having a dialogue with one new contact. You will be making progress with your sales and you will also be doing better than a lot of the competition.

Research is over-rated!

Action is better.

PS What do you do if you don’t know what to say to new prospects? If this is the case, keep an eye out for my new guide: “Done For You Sales Scripts: How To Start Dialogues If You Are Selling Print”. It launches in March.

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