Now I might be dating myself by saying this, but I remember a time where telephones were used exclusively for making phone calls. I know that time has passed. And I laugh now when I see my wife spend 90% of her phone battery texting or using various apps and not actually talking on the phone. So what I am about to say may shock some of you. 

Outbound phone calls can be an incredibly effective strategy to generate business. 

Depending on the size of your calling list, and who those target people are and what the cost and margins are of your product or service, a phone campaign can be a very effective tool for you to generate appointments and follow up on sales leads.

Where to Start

As with direct mail lists, the first place to start your outbound phone call campaign likely should be with your existing customers. Whether these customers are current customers or former customers that you're working to reactivate, outbound phone calls to these people can be incredibly productive.

Take the example of one of the dental practices we coached for a number of years. This practice had two locations and did general dentistry. One of the things we helped them develop was a simple outbound phone campaign wherein they could look at the schedule for the coming two weeks and if they had openings. They would identify past patients who had not been in the office within the past nine months, and then reached out to these people with a phone call to get them to come back in for a screening and cleaning. The results of the campaign were very strong: Around 35% of the people they spoke with scheduled an appointment within the next two weeks. Calling past customers and clients has been successful not just for dental practices--we've seen our construction clients, IT service businesses and others use the same strategy.

The second grouping of people to reach out to would be your hot list that you have on your own house list. These hot prospects deserve a phone call on a regular basis. Internally for us, with our business coaching practice, we reach out to strong prospects at least once per quarter to check in with them about the status of their business, and to see if it makes sense for them and for us to take the next step either doing a free business coaching session with them or, in some cases, even having them be a guest at one of our live events.

Tracking and Logistics

An outbound phone campaign can be as simple as having a spreadsheet that somebody works their way through or it can be a full blown CRM campaign. If you're manually dialing, you should expect that whoever is doing the dials will make a minimum of 30 dials per hour on average. If you have a full-blown CRM, you might want to consider using an auto-dialer function or tool in conjunction with your CRM if the amount of leads that you're calling through reaches into the thousands. This not only will help your person on the phone make faster, more efficient dials, typically being able to dial twice as many people in the same unit of time, but more importantly, you can set it up to track the dials and the dial efficacy automatically in the CRM. This is the gold standard of getting accurate reporting on the effectiveness of your dials.

When it comes to tracking, here are the things you want to pay attention to:

  • The number of dials made

  • The number of people who answer the phone

  • Calculate your contact rate (number of people reached divided by number of dials made)

  • Number of sales made or appointments set 

  • Close rate or set rate (number of sales or appointments set divided by number of contacts made)

  • Number of dollars sold

  •  ROI per $1 invested in phone campaign (total numbers of sales generated from phone campaign divided by total cost of phone campaign)

These stats will allow you to know if your campaign is working. Is it profitable? And is it something you should tweak, adjust, or scale up? Good luck!