How Many Cold Calls per Hour Should I Make?

One of the questions we hear most often is, “How many cold calls per hour should I make.” Of course, like most sales process questions there is no simple answer. But, “It depends” never seems to satisfy the enquirer.

Before you can find your answer, you really have to ask yourself a few additional questions.

  1. What is the objective of my call
  2. What is the quality of my list
  3. Will I be using a CRM (hope so)
  4. Are the calls cold (never been contacted) or warm (is this attempt number 2+)
  5. Will there be any additional sales related activities required (quotes, order processing, appointment scheduling)

To demonstrate how to calculate the number of cold calls per hour, let’s begin by making some assumptions.

  1. Objective: To book a meeting
  2. List Quality: Average (You have a Company name, Point of Contact, and phone number)
  3. CRM: Yes
  4. Cold Calls: This is the first attempt for this list
  5. Sales Administration: Meetings will need to be scheduled

When you are making first attempt cold calls, we recommend that you spend a couple minutes to research the company you are calling by looking at their website or doing a quick Google search on the company name. You can get bogged down and absorbed in this activity if you are not careful. I suggest you spend no more than 2 minutes per record on this type of activity and another 1 minute making a quick note in your CRM about what you have learned about the prospect. This will save you from having to look the company up again on your second attempt.

Average Cold Call Prep Time = 3 minutes

When your objective is to book a meeting and you are making your first attempt at a contact your average call time will be very short. You will spend a lot of time in “voicemail land” or being directed to other points of contact by a gatekeeper. These calls will usually average about 1 minute over the course of a day. So, if you assume there will be only a few live contacts/conversations your average talk time per call will be about 1.5 minutes.

Average Talk Time/Call = 1.5 minutes

After each call you should learn something about your prospect that will “warm up” your next call. You should allow at least another 1 minute to disposition your first attempt in your CRM application and capture any additional information such as; the title from the prospect’s voicemail, assistant/gatekeeper’s name, best option on the automatic response system, back-up person’s name, cell phone number, vacation or office schedule, etc.

Average Cold Call Disposition Time = 1 minute

Finally, let’s assume that you book 2 meetings per day as a result of your efforts and that it takes about 8 minutes to have the conversation with the prospect and to send out the meeting invitations. If you work an 8 hour day and your entire day is dedicated to cold calling, this activity will average 2 minutes per hour.

Scheduling Meetings = 2 minutes

In summary, when we include pre-call research, the actual call, and post-call CRM updates you should allow on average 7.5 minutes for each cold call. Sixty minutes divided by 7.5 minutes equals 8 calls per hour.

60 minutes/7.5 minutes per call = 8 cold calls per hour

In our experience, a diligent inside sales person making their first pass through a new list will be able to easily achieve 8-10 calls per hour.

The cold calls per hour will increase as the list becomes warmer and more refined over the next few calls allowing a good inside sales person to average 10-12 calls per hour while effectively maintaining and updating information in your CRM application.

Therefore, when asked how many cold calls per hour should an inside sales person be able to make, a fair and reasonable response is generally 10 calls per hour.

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Mike Faherty

Mike Faherty

Mike Faherty is President of ProSales Connection, LLC a Sales and Marketing firm based in Houston, Texas. Mike Faherty is a noted leader in the technology industry and in 2008 founded ProSales Connection to use his experience to build and lead inside sales teams for B2B clients in the US and around the World. Please connect with me at the links below or give me a call at 832-365-0730 for more information about ProSales Connection.

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  1. #1 by John Lewis on February 18, 2012 - 12:04 pm

    Hi Mike,

    Maybe I’m missing something but where do you account for the time talking to gatekeepers or the time spent dialing when you are not successful reaching anyone? I am trying to create my own sales goals and I appreciate what you’ve said as far as it goes but am I missing something?

    Love to hear from you.


  2. #2 by Mike Faherty on February 20, 2012 - 7:58 am

    Thanks John for your question. The time you spend talking to the gatekeeper or working your way through an organization is accounted for in the average talk time of 1.5 minutes. Keep in mind to produce an article like this I have to make a lot of assumptions. That being said, reaching a gatekeeper can be considered a successful call if you use the opportunity to gather some additional information that will help you when you finally reach your target. For instance, you can confirm he/she is the correct contact, when the best time to reach him/her, who is the current vendor of choice or standard, and who is the person on the team that could answer some additional questions before you connect with the target contact. In most cases the gatekeeper has all or most of this information. Use this to your advantage and make your 2nd attempt a home run! Good luck and read some of my other posts about gatekeepers for more insight!

  3. #3 by kim on February 19, 2013 - 2:13 pm

    Great information. Do you think if a junior sales can do the same number of cold calls? Should we hire senior sales for cold calling?

  4. #4 by Mike Faherty on February 19, 2013 - 2:55 pm

    Often a junior rep can make more calls because they are not burdened with an account list and demanding clients. They are free to concentrate on prospecting. Save your precious sales dollars for sales people that can close deals. Invest in junior reps or an outsourced lead generation firm to qualify leads and fill the top of the funnel.

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