What is Contact Rate and 5 Effective Ways To Enhance Yours

Tattooed hand holding an old-school phone

Salespeople should always get their attitudes ready for the most positive outcome possible before every outbound sales call. Whether they are calling to set up an appointment, make an offering or just inform customers about impending changes in payment terms, nothing good results unless they have a phone conversation with a prospect.

If you have ever made sales calls in a sales or telemarketing campaign, you have certainly faced the difficulties caused by relatively low rates of actual human contact made with leads.

With this in mind, we share proven practices on improving the contact rate with prospects.

First though, before you achieve an increase in the number of successful connections, it’s necessary to figure out what is this metric and how to measure this metric.

Table of contents:

  1. What is the contact rate and how to measure it
  2. 5 effective ways to enhance your contact rate
  3. What 1.6 million calls reveal about their contact rate

What is the contact rate and how to measure it

In the world of sales calls, the contact rate is the percentage of the number of used leads to the number of actually performed conversations:

Formula how to measure contact rate

Where used leads are captured as a segment of total sales calls.

Maximizing the contact rate is crucial to running successful outbound call campaigns. Yet, other key performance indicators (KPIs) should not be overlooked.

5 effective ways to enhance your contact rate

Local caller ID

Dialing from local numbers that show up on the caller ID gives you the advantage of local presence. When you look local, it boosts the number of successful connections.

Most salespeople can relate to the proven practice of appearing local when actually making contact with potential customers. According to a survey conducted by Craig Borowski from Software Advice, people are about four times more likely to answer calls from local numbers than those made from toll-free numbers. Results speak for themselves. Give it a try!


Even if leaving voicemails is the easiest way to increase the contact rate and the number of callbacks, salespeople making outbound calls often find this idea completely useless.

Stand out from the crowd. Leave short, clear and well-articulated messages, including the main purpose of the call.

As John Barrows outlined on the SalesForce blog, leads won’t call you back from your voicemail with absolute probability. However, if they hear a message and realize the value of your offering then they may pick up the phone the next time they see you see calling.

Dialing system

You’ve got to admit, the more call attempts you make, the greater the chance of reaching more leads. In other words, a small number of tries decreases the overall contact rate. Thus it reduces the conversions for the whole outbound calling campaign.

“Make more calls?!”, you may mutter in anguish.

Yes, but wait a second. You probably find the idea of making several times the number of calls absurd. Too much time- and resource-consuming and you may even say that I won’t convince you.

You are exactly right — if you’ve had the misfortune of dialing numbers manually. That is surely spending too much of the day trying to find the most efficient and effective way to get customers on the phone.

Dialing technology is just what you have missed. Once you start using automatic dialing, your contact rate will naturally take off.

Respect leads’ timetable

Most salespeople stick strictly to their own timetables and devote very specific times to making calls.

Let’s say, you spent each morning last week on efforts to schedule a meeting with the CEO of a well-known company in your industry. Regardless, you keep seeing the “set-up” signal again, each time you return to your efforts. Does this automatically expose that CEO as a disinterested party? No.

This scenario just confirms how important it is to draw attention to some specifics of the businesses of each of your leads.

It’s likely that your prospect’s morning is set aside for planning and attending meetings. Let’s face it. People don’t expect your call. They haven’t planned time for it and frankly, they simply may not feel like dealing with you now—or any other time either.

So when is the right time to call your leads?

According to a Lead Response Management survey, the most appropriate time to call is 4:00-5:00 p.m.

By calling in the early evenings, you can avoid the gatekeepers’ office hours. Based on the same survey, early morning hours also work for such contacts. Still, best practices show that this time of day is still controversial and depends on the industry or line of business.

It never hurts to keep testing the times when your prospects answer the phone most often. Scheduling your calls accordingly will cut the number of unanswered calls.

Prioritize the quality of your contact list

The contact rate often reflects the quality of the contact list.

For that very reason, before you start calling it’s important to know your target personas as much as you can.

You should clearly define your “perfect” fit. You wouldn’t want to offer a rainbow to a blind person. Learn everything that allows you to connect with the prospect. Take advantage of his or her company websites, professional networks, or industry journals. Maybe you could use social media monitoring tools, like BrandMentions.

Knowing who and what has said about a prospect on Twitter can form a good starting point for familiarization with your prospects.

Knowing more about your leads and having their direct dial phone numbers, you’ll reach them faster and get a better contact rate.

What 1.6 million calls reveal about their contact rate

Since each business depending on the industry might resort to the different ways to enhance the number of successful connections, it’s hard enough to find middle ground comparing these guesses without facts and figures.

With this in mind, we’ve analyzed over 1,5 million outbound international calls made by our clients in the first quarter of 2018.

Our primary goal was to find out the contact rate across countries. But we also wanted to identify whether making calls from mobile or local phone numbers in any way correlates to the chances of catching people on phone in different countries worldwide.

First, we’d like to point out that all calls involved in our survey were made by real businesses calling their actual prospects and customers.

What is immediately striking is that on average customers answered only about 54 percent of the telephone calls. The data we gathered suggests people ignore almost one in two calls they receive.

On a positive note, however, we found that people are more likely to answer calls if they see a familiar local area code.

Check the infographic below where we’ve illustrated more facts about the close connection between the contact rate and the phone number.

Infographic with data on contact rate