Reps are only effective as long as they’re able to actually get on the phone with a live person. It doesn’t help your business if they’re stuck listening to dial tones all day long, or fighting through long lists of phone numbers. That’s where an outbound dialer comes in.
With the right dialer in place, reps can seamlessly move through call lists with minimal friction, get connected to live people faster and more often, and have the appropriate amount of information available before each call.
The key is choosing the right dialer for the task you’re working on. Otherwise, you risk wasted time, overwhelmed reps, and even compliance issues.
Popular Outbound Dialers
- Preview Dialer
- Power Dialer
- Progressive Dialer
- Predictive Dialer
Preview dialers are part CRM, part phone system. When your rep is ready to make a call, they’ll be presented with a case file about the customer or lead, so they can be prepared before the call.
Power dialers automatically place calls as soon as a rep hangs up on their previous call. Progressive dialers do the same thing as power dialers, but they also automatically filter out answering machines or numbers that aren’t in service.
Finally, predictive dialers work their way through a large list of phone numbers, only connecting the call for an agent when they get a live response from a customer while simultaneously routing calls based on agent availability.
The Pros and Cons of Each Outbound Dialer
- Provide reps with detailed, nuanced information before calls
- Gives reps more control over their calls
- Great for specific types of sales, as well as your trickiest customer service issues
- Won’t automatically skip answering machines or fax machines—the agent has to disconnect
- The slowest of the four methods
Preview Dialers Work Really Well For:
Preview dialers are helpful for situations where you need to make a lot of calls but still have a high degree of customer interaction. Businesses often use preview dialers when they’re approaching leads for luxury sales, or in the case of complicated customer service issues. Preview dialers tend to work best when integrated with CRM software.
Since the agent can prepare for the call before they connect, they’re able to provide a higher level of customer service. The level of preparation makes customers feel like they’re really being listened to, instead of feeling like they’re just the next number on the list.
And, despite the fact that preview dialers are the slowest type of auto dialer, they tend to lead to better outcomes for both sales reps and customer service reps. Your reps will be making fewer calls per hour, but likely closing more leads and creating more satisfied customers.
- Incredibly efficient
- Removes the human element of initiating calls, so they’re faster
- Automatically routes calls to free reps
- Reps have no control over who they talk to
- Reps still have to sit through the dialing process
- Not suited for complex situations
Power Dialers Work Really Well For:
Power dialers work well for when reps need to work their way down a predefined list of contacts. They’re much faster than preview dialers, and they don’t require the agent to place the call, which removes a lot of the instability that can come with human decision-making.
Each rep gets assigned to the next contact on the list, rather than having the option to pick and choose who they contact, and the power dialer makes sure that calls are always routed to a live agent who’s ready to take the call. In comparison, predictive dialers make calls and only connect to an agent after the customer or lead answers. This can lead to a delay in connection, which may result in the customer or lead hanging up.
Power dialers also make it easy for sales reps to keep track of who they’ve called recently and who they need to follow up with, which can improve performance and keep leads from slipping through the cracks.
- High call volume
- Automatically skips answering machines or similar non-live interactions
- Allows reps to quickly and seamlessly move down their list
- Not suited for complex situations
- Can have a high volume of call abandons
Progressive Dialers Work Really Well For:
These are useful for situations where you need to get in touch with a lot of your customers or leads quickly, and when you need to be mindful of your reps’ time and resources. Businesses often use them to reconnect with customers who have lapsed on a subscription or are due for an upsell. They can also work well for B2B connections, where you may be trying to get in touch with businesses that have auto-attendants or similar technology setups on the other end.
- Leads to the most live calls per hour of any kind
- Saves time by only connecting agents once a caller has answered
- Great for short, standardized messaging
- The most likely kind of dialer to cause issues with compliance
- Requires a large pool of reps to be effective
- Can easily annoy customers because of delays in answering
Predictive Dialers Work Really Well For:
There’s one clear use case for predictive dialers: when you need to make a whole lot of calls very fast.
They’re ideal for situations in which you need to convey a basic message to a lot of people—for instance, in the case of pre-qualifying customers or presenting a short survey—but they’re not great for anything but the most basic of sales.
That being said, they do drastically increase the number of live calls your reps will get per hour, which can have a big impact on your revenue, given the sheer volume of people you’ll be contacting. If you’re going after volume over everything, predictive dialers are probably going to be your best bet.
Curious about the best predictive dialer software? We’ve made a list to make it easy for you to find the right program for you.
TCPA and Outbound Dialers
Outbound dialers can be a lifesaver for sales and customer service teams, but they’re also sometimes abused by scammers. In response, the government has created the The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), which lays out the rules for businesses who want to do telemarketing. The TCPA covers calls and auto-dialers, as well as things like text messages and faxes.
It’s especially important to understand how the TCPA applies to you and your team if you’re using an auto dialer, since violations can result in everything from a small claims court lawsuit to penalties of over $50,000 per person if you call someone on the National Do Not Call Registry.
That being said, it’s not all that hard to make sure you stay on the good side of the TCPA. The core elements the TCPA considers are the presence of an Established Business Relationship (EBR) and Prior Express Written Consent (PWRC). If you can show that you have had some kind of business relationship with the person you’re calling, or that they’ve specifically requested information from you, you’re likely to be in the clear.
There are a series of other rules as well, including:
- Limits on when you can call—you can’t call, text, or fax before 8AM or after 9PM in that person’s time zone
- Limits on the kinds of messages you can send. No AI-generated messages, nothing pre-recorded, and nothing automated unless they meet very specific standards
- No multi-line dialing, and no calling emergency numbers or healthcare facilities
- No calls that cause a charge to be made to the recipient
Additionally, businesses must make sure that each call includes:
- An easy opt-out option
- The name of the person calling, the business they’re calling from, and the business’s contact information
- A verifiable Caller ID
The good news is, many business VoIP call center services make it easy to help companies stay out of hot water when making a high number of calls. Many automatically remove numbers listed on the Do Not Call Registry, as well as provide messaging about how to opt-out, and information about who’s making the call.
If you make sure your dialer is set up with these parameters in place, and also maintain information about your previous business engagements with customers or their written consent for contact, you should be able to stay compliant fairly easily.