Top 50 Cold Calling Statistics for Salespeople in 2021

Check out our list of key cold calling statistics for salespeople, including cold calls’ effectiveness, challenges, and common mistakes.

Thanks to the rise of newer prospecting methods like social selling, cold calling has spent a lot of time under interrogation. Many companies have run studies and surveys to find out whether cold calling still works, and, if so, how to do it more effectively. From these various studies, we’ve compiled 50 cold calling statistics across the following categories:

Effectiveness of Cold Calling for Prospecting

It takes sellers an average of 18 calls to connect with a buyer. (Source: Gartner)

Email marketing is two times more effective than cold calling. (Source: Marketing Sherpa)

Cold calls have a success rate of 2.5%. (Source: Kenan-Flagler Business School)

39% of C-level executives are, on average, reached on the first cold call attempt, while 72% are reached by the second. By the sixth attempt, sellers should connect with 93% of their leads. (Source: Braveheart Sales Performance)

28% of cold calls are answered, 55% are not answered, and 17% are non-working numbers. (Source: Keller Center Research Report)

An average of 1.5 hours of cold calling every day for five days will win one appointment or receive one referral. These are both considered positive cold calling outcomes. (Source: Keller Center Research Report)

One out of every 59 cold calls ends in either a referral or a meeting. (Source: Keller Center Research Report)

People who asked to be called back another time during a cold call ended up expressing some form of interest one out of every 10-11 times. (Source: Keller Center Research Report)

The data shows that cold calling is a numbers game. The more calls you make, the better chances you have of connecting with ideal prospects for lead generation. So don’t give up. Even though some claim cold calling is dead, if you do it consistently and correctly and you have accurate data, you’ll likely find it to be effective.

How Buyers Feel About Cold Calls

19% of potential buyers desire interaction with a salesperson during their awareness stage — the timeframe in the buying process when the buyer is actively researching and learning about the product or service. (Source: HubSpot)

82% of buyers say that they accept meetings with salespeople who reach out to them over cold calls. They also say that 70% of salespeople contact them over the phone to book meetings. (Source: RAIN Group)

54% of technology buyers prefer being contacted by cold call. This is more than buyers in financial services (40%) and professional services (50%). (Source: RAIN Group)

71% of buyers want to hear from a salesperson early in the buying process — when the buyer is looking for new ideas and opportunities to improve their business. (Source: RAIN Group)

2% of buyers state that they do not want to interact with a salesperson during the buying process. (Source: RAIN Group)

49% of buyers prefer to be initially contacted through a cold call. (Source: RAIN Group)

57% of C-level buyers and VPs list a cold call as their preferred way to be initially contacted, compared to 51% of directors and 47% of managers. (Source: RAIN Group)

90% of buyers are open to talking with salespeople earlier in the buying process, especially if they are facing novel, complex, or risky circumstances. (Source: CSO)

75% of decision makers have accepted an appointment or attended an event based on an unexpected sales call or email. (Source: Inside Sales)

Buyers are open to receiving cold calls from salespeople, especially if a salesperson comes with new insights or ideas that can help them improve their business or overcome current obstacles. Higher-level executives also seem to be more appreciative of these calls.

How Sales Reps Can Make Effective Cold Calls

The optimal talk-to-listen ratio on a cold call is 54:46. Salespeople should talk more than the buyer. (Source: Gong)

Saying “we” instead of “I” boosts cold calling success rates by 35%. Therefore, “We help companies with X” should prove more effective than “I help companies with X.” (Source: Gong)

7% of top sales performers report pitching. That percentage jumps to 19% for non-top performers. While top salespeople might pitch, they prioritize engaging buyers in conversation. (Source: Sales Insights Lab)

In successful cold calls, there are 70% more salesperson monologues that surpass five seconds in duration. Monologues are when a salesperson speaks without interruption. (Source: Gong)

In successful cold calls, the average potential buyer monologue length (the duration for which a prospect speaks uninterrupted) is 3.5 seconds. In unsuccessful cold calls, it’s eight seconds. (Source: Gong)

With a success rate of 10.01%, cold calls that include “How’ve you been?” have a 6.6 times higher success rate than the baseline cold call. (Source: Gong)

Sellers who open their cold calls with their reason for calling boost their cold call success rate by 2.1 times. (Source: Gong)

In successful cold calls, there are 77% more switches between who’s speaking than there are in unsuccessful cold calls. (Source: Gong)

If a seller makes a second follow-up cold call to potential buyers, they boost their likelihood of making contact by 87%. (Source: Braveheart Sales Performance)

Beginning a cold call with “I understand we share a common LinkedIn group” raises the chances of securing an appointment/meeting by 70%. (Source: LinkedIn)

10 a.m. to 2 p.m. is the most fruitful time slot to make cold calls. It accounts for 53% of all appointments/referrals created. The worst time for cold calling is after 5 p.m. (Source: Keller Center Research Report)

The tone of your voice determines 93% of whether your cold call will succeed. (Source: Close)

Successful cold calls are nearly double the length of the unsuccessful ones (5:50 vs. 3:14). (Source: Gong)

Asking “how are you?” during a cold call boosts your likelihood of booking an appointment by 3.4 times. (Source: Gong)

As salespeople, we are taught to listen. On a cold call, however, it’s more important that you speak (and say the right thing). This is your chance to get the individual interested in taking a meeting, so speak confidently about the benefits of your solution.

Common Cold Call Mistakes to Avoid

The worst dates/times to place a cold call are Mondays from 6 a.m. to 12:00 p.m and Friday afternoons. (Source: RingDNA)

91% of customers say they’d give referrals. 11% of salespeople ask for them. Ask on the cold call. (Source: Dale Carnegie)

If sellers use the phrase “we provide” more than four times in one call, they risk decreasing their closing rate by 22%. (Source: Gong)

Opening a cold call with “Did I catch you at a bad time?” makes sales reps 40% less likely to secure an appointment. (Source: Gong)

Only 22% of salespeople had a formal referral system. That means they are potentially missing out on the second positive outcome of a cold call: the name of someone else to call. (Source: Heinz Marketing)

Salespeople often think the only positive outcome of a cold call is a booked appointment — they’re missing out on referrals. If the lead isn’t a good fit, ask if they know anyone who is; if you were polite, they might be open to giving you another name to call. Learn from salespeople’s common mistakes or your own, and you’ll start to secure more referrals and appointments.

Effectiveness of Leaving Cold Call Voicemails

The average voicemail response rate is 4.8%. (Source: Inside Sales)

On average, a team of 50 sales reps will leave 1,250 hours of voicemails each month. That’s 15% of their time on the job. (Source: RingDNA)

61% of executives say they are likely to reply to a voicemail at work. (Source: Inside Sales)

80% of calls end in a voicemail, and 90% of first-time voicemails never receive a response. (Source: Ring Lead)

Well-crafted voicemails can increase cold call response rates by anywhere from 3% to 22%. (Source: Inside Sales)

It’s best to test the effectiveness of voicemails on your specific customer type. AB test cold calls with voicemails and calls without them to see whether it’s worth the time investment.

Challenges of Cold Calling

On average, sellers spend just 23% of their time selling to prospects. And less valuable administrative paperwork eats up 22% of their time. (Source: Pace Productivity)

In a firm of 50-100 people, there is an average of seven people involved in a purchasing decision. This makes it tough for a salesperson to find the right decision maker on a cold call. (Source: Gartner)

Just 37% of prospects feel sales reps that have cold called them delivered relevant information regarding their needs. However, nearly 75% of salespeople thought they were spot-on with what they knew and pitched. If it’s hard to tell where a cold call went wrong, it’s tough to improve next time. (Source: HubSpot)

63% of sales reps say cold calls are the worst part of the job. (Source: No More Cold Calling)

25% of the information in B2B databases is incorrect. (Source: ZoomInfo)

Every year, 43% of people change their phone numbers. (Source: ZoomInfo)

80% of companies say they have “risky” phone contact records. (Source: Sirius Decisions)

55% of cold call recipients won’t answer a cold call, and 17% of the seller’s contacts’ information will be inaccurate. But the remaining 28% of people will answer. (Source: Keller Research Center)

42% of sellers claim they lack the data necessary for making a good cold call. (Lattice Engine)

Salespeople often struggle to make successful cold calls because of a lack of accurate data. This makes it hard not only to reach the individual, but also to do proper research to personalize the cold call messaging to the recipient.

Bottom Line: Cold Calling Statistics

The answer to whether cold calling is effective varies across industries. Some sellers will see more success with it than others. But in general, the data shows that as long as it is done with tact and personalization, cold calling is an effective way to reach decision makers and quickly form relationships with them. This is especially true in the B2B space when reaching out to higher-level executives.

Next, if you're needing for more key statistics, check out our roundup of top sales statistics for better selling.

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