What Call Duration Says about your Sales Team

Tracking the duration of the sales calls made by your outbound prospecting team can provide clarity and actionable insights on how well they are doing on the phones. It is an absolutely critical sales metric for managers to track. Sales managers need to be able to determine the optimal length of an outbound call.

In this post, we will break down how short is too short, how long is too long, and how to coach your outbound sales reps to optimize the time they spend on calls to improve your numbers.

What’s too short?

Faster is not always better. Shorter calls are probably the result of ineffective communication with prospects. We find that calls lasting 2 minutes or less are likely too short to be valuable – most of that time was probably spent on hold, in the phone tree, leaving a voicemail, or being told that the prospect is not interested. Calls over 2 minutes long usually indicate some level of positive interaction going on between your rep and the prospect.

Reps with lots of dials but mostly short conversations might prioritize quantity over quality. This could be a problem with your incentive system or daily expectations. Reps should be rewarded for having strong Call:Connect ratios, not just for making X number of calls per day. Take a look at the activity dashboard below for a company with 4 outbound sales reps. You’ll see that Joseph Teegardin makes the most calls, but his connect rate is lower than the other reps who make fewer calls.

If these were your reps, you’d look into why Joseph makes a ton of dials – 700 more per quarter than Olivia – but connects at a lower rate. Is he making too many short calls? Listen in on some of his calls – maybe his introduction isn’t compelling or he comes off too aggressive at the beginning. Make sure you coach your reps to prioritize the quality of their calls more than the quantity and incentivize them accordingly.

What’s too long?

Long calls don’t necessarily mean your rep is charming the socks off your prospects. How many meetings were scheduled from calls lasting over 10 minutes? Maybe your reps with longer call durations are having a hard time booking meetings. Or perhaps they keep connecting with chatty people when there is no opportunity there. Another issue could be that your reps are “spilling all the candy in the lobby” – in other words, revealing too much about the product or service during the first conversation. A great sales rep lays a foundation for follow-up, leaving much to be revealed in the next meeting or demo.

In your weekly one-on-one meetings with the reps who have longer calls, check in with them about what happens on those calls and whether the time spent is productive. If they have long calls but a low or average number of meetings scheduled, discuss how to spend less time on the phone while being more or equally effective.

What’s just right?

We found that the sweet spot for outbound calls is between 2-10 minutes. In this time period, a sales rep can successfully engage a prospect in dialogue and express value to them, but not reveal too much about the product or service. The best way to measure the right length of time for your sales team is to use data to regularly measure your performance against expectations. This way, you can find your team’s optimal call length and easily demonstrate to your reps who have shorter or longer calls why they should adjust their strategy to improve their numbers.

Tune in tomorrow for the second post in the Call Metrics Series: What Call Volume Says About Your Sales Team!