11 Ways Predictive & Multi-line Dialers Can Negatively Impact Sales Efforts

Jeff Osness

February 8, 2024

7 min

Table of Contents

Summary

  • Multi-line dialers may offer speed, but they come with issues like the "telemarketer's delay," dropped calls, and compliance risks, which can hurt sales efforts.
  • The use of multi-line dialers can lead to fines, increased hang-ups, damaged number reputation, and spam flags, all of which hinder effective sales calls.
  • Businesses switching from multi-line or predictive dialers to a 1-to-1 model like PhoneBurner often see a significant increase in connection and call engagement rates.
  • 1-to-1 dialing allows for better preparation for each call, avoids common pitfalls of multi-line dialing, and enhances personalization in outreach.
  • Using a platform such as PhoneBurner, sales professionals can execute 1-to-1 communications efficiently and at scale
  • ‍See how PhoneBurner can help alleviate these problems

What if changing the type of dialer software you’re using could multiply the number of conversations your team is having?

A company recently came to PhoneBurner to set up a pilot to compare the results against their current multi-line dialer.

They were stunned by how many fewer calls it took to land conversations.

Businesses switching from a multi-line or predictive approach to a 1-to-1 power dialing model like PhoneBurner frequently experience a significant uptick in connection and call engagement rates.

Why? Because while multi-line dialers deliver on speed, it can come at a cost.

In fact, here are 11 ways that multi-line dialers (aka parallel dialers) can negatively impact your sales efforts. 

Faster isn’t always better...

‍

1. Telemarketer’s Delay

This is number 1 on the list for a reason.

Would you agree that the goal of phone-based outreach is to have quality conversations with your contacts?

Well, the dreaded “telemarketer’s delay” gets every conversation off on the wrong foot.

Your contact says, “Hello?” “Hello?”

Homer Simpson answering a phone call

Rather than hearing a “hello” right back, they hear an awkward pause.

Or an off-putting “bloooop.”

… before an agent finally comes on the line.

This happens because predictive/multi-line software intentionally calls many numbers at once, and relies on voice detection technology to determine when a call is answered.

Only then can the call be transferred to an agent (hence the delay).

Connecting with contacts is hard enough.

Do you really want your conversations to start like this?

‍

2. Dropped/Abandoned Calls

The scenario above is actually the best-case live answer scenario as far as predictive dialers go.

Why?

Because the other thing that can happen after your precious prospect says, “hello” is that no agent is available to take the call. 

When that happens the call is abandoned, or dropped.

Your contact has answered the phone only to be greeted by dead air.

‍

3. Fines/Compliance

Multi-line dialers subject businesses to additional compliance and regulatory standards.

One example directly relates to dropped calls, as referenced above. 

Exceeding a 3% threshold for dropped calls could devastate your business due to costly fines imposed by the FCC under the TSR (Telemarketing Sales Rule).

These fines can range upwards of $43,000 per call, in some cases.

The good news? It’s super simple to remove this risk entirely.

Dial with PhoneBurner, which completely eliminates the possibility of dropped and abandoned calls. As a leader in Responsible CommunicationsTM we take Trust & Safety seriously.

Woman wiping her brow as if to say "phew"

‍

4. Hangups/Short Duration Calls

What happens when a contact says “hello” and an agent isn’t on the line to reply “hello” right back?

Oftentimes, they’ll hang up.

They either mistakenly believe the call is dead or they’re aware it’s a sales call and they’re put off by the nuisance.

As any sales rep or agent will tell you, getting hung up on is demoralizing.

But unfortunately for users of predictive and other multi-line dialers, the emotional toll is only a small part of the problem.

You’re risking significant damage to the reputation of your phone numbers as well.

Hangups and other quick disconnections result in what is known as a “short duration call.”

Carriers track these occurrences, and the frequency of occurence is incorporated into number reputation algorithims.

A higher percentage of "short duration calls" doesn't look very good.

If your team is consistently logging short duration calls, ask yourself, “what is this telling me?" and "what is it costing me?”

‍

5. Number Blocks

Because calls originating from predictive/parallel dialers are more likely to be perceived as a nuisance (for all of the reasons highlighted above), the numbers are more likely to be “blocked” and/or reported.

Number blocks are costly.

Once a contact blocks your number, devices push subsequent calls straight to voicemail. This alone will effectively terminate your ability to connect with many of them.

However, repeated number blocks also damage your number reputation - which ties into reason #6, spam flags.

It’s a costly one-two punch.

‍

6. Spam/Scam Likely & Call Answer Rates

Let’s put it all together.

  • Telemarketer’s delay
  • Dropped calls
  • Increased risk of short duration calls
  • Increased risk of number blocks

The carriers have sophisticated algorithms that track dialing behaviors and call patterns of all kinds.

The factors above - along with other call patterns that stem from parallel dialing - can make it more likely that even your legitimate calls get flagged as “Scam/Spam Likely.” 

Yes, your dialing software can considerably impact your risk of flags... and therefore, your answer rates and call engagement.

Let’s face it…

Number reputation is absolutely essential to your ability to engage your contacts in high quality conversations.

You need to keep your phone numbers clean, long-term, to effectively engage in outreach. If your strategy involves buying and dumping numbers as flags appear, you’re playing a dangerous game.

This is what spammers do - and carriers are on to it. 

That’s why carriers look for numbers with:

  • Established call history
  • Verified ownership
  • Consistent, reasonable calling behaviors
  • Healthy call engagement

…for confidence that calls should be delivered without spam flags.

If your legitimate calls are being consistently flagged, it’s time to partner with an expert.

‍

7. Live Voicemail

Apple’s iOS 17 update introduced a game-changing feature known as Live Voicemail.

Think of it as call screening for the modern age.

Enabled by default, Live Voicemail changes the way people interact with their phones - especially when they don’t recognize the caller (quite common with sales outreach).

How does it work? 

‍

Rather than answering a call right away, iPhone users can read a real-time transcript of an incoming voicemail for context, and then answer the call.

In other words, voicemail is no longer a “did not reach” call outcome. It’s a golden opportunity for live conversations.

Unless you’re using a multi-line dialer, that is.

Since multi-line dialers rely on voice detection technology and bring agents to a call after they’re answered, there’s no agent on the line to interact with live voicemail.

Ouch.

With Apple’s ~57% (and growing) US smartphone market share, that’s a lot of opportunity missed.

‍

8. Rushed Agents

As our CEO, Chris Sorensen, noted…

“Everyone wants to go fast. No one wants to be rushed.”

And therein lies another significant negative of parallel dialing.

While calling multiple numbers is fast, it makes it nearly impossible to prepare for a call.

Agents show up to live calls with about enough time to read the contact’s name. And that's about it.

Reviewing notes?

Examining prior call history for valuable context?

Sorry… John Smith answered the call 5 seconds ago.

It’s a stressful, and often unnatural way to prospect. And agents feel it every time they get someone on the line.

PhoneBurner’s 1-to-1 platform still delivers speed and efficiency, yet agents have precious time to prepare for every call. 

  • In power dialing mode, they can review call history and notes as soon as they disposition the previous call, and as the phone is ringing.
  • In pause & preview mode, they can pause to get the information they need, and initiate the next call as soon as they’re ready.

It’s a balance of speed and quality.

Personalization is key to building relationships with your contacts. If you’re committed to maximizing revenue-per-lead, isn’t it time to reconsider the multi-line approach?

‍

9. Trouble Navigating Phone Trees

Not every number is direct.

Sometimes you have to navigate a phone tree to get to the party you’re trying to call.

When you’re live on the line, that’s easy peasy.

You listen to the prompt, make your selection, and have your call routed where it needs to go.

But when you’re parallel dialing, you're not even on the call. So that tree is more like a brick wall.

It’s just one more way multi-line dialing reduces the percentage of calls that actually result in a live conversation.

‍

10. Sends the Wrong Message

How much do you value your leads?

Are you looking at outreach through the lens of:

  • How can I do this faster?
  • Or... how can I connect meaningfully with more of my list?

If the latter, multi-line dialers send the absolute wrong message.

Calling 5 or 10 numbers at a time and making those who answer wait for you to come on the line tells them, “my time is more valuable than yours.”

It’s a bad look. And it hurts outcomes.

1-to-1 outreach sends a completely different message. 

It tells your contact that you valued them enough to call them individually and intentionally. The experience is no different than if you dialed them by hand.

‍

11. No/Limited Multichannel

One of the key advantages of a 1-to-1 communications model is that agents can coordinate additional touches based on the outcome of the call.

Whether an agent connects with a contact or not…

Whether a call goes to voicemail, no answer, or a bad/number…

… an agent using PhoneBurner can send a follow-up email and/or text message based on the call outcome - with 1 click.

A multi-channel approach results in more touchpoints, greater exposure, and increased likelihood of connection on subsequent call attempts.

Unfortunately, multi-line dialers lack this 1-click multi-channel functionality. Plus, because agents aren’t involved unless a call is connected, their ability to communicate with those who don’t answer is highly limited.

It’s just one more reason contacts are more-thoroughly and thoughtfully nurtured with a power dialer.

‍

Want to Book More Meetings in Fewer Calls?

Speed and call volume are important.

But “calls made” isn’t a particularly good metric if your call answer rates are in the gutter. 

Or if the calls that do get answered:

  • Are lower quality
  • Result in hangups, and number blocks
  • Increase your risk of spam flags

How many calls is it taking to book a meeting?

If you’re burning through leads with less and less to show for it, it’s time to reconsider the technology you’re using to make these calls. 

Your goal should be to unlock every ounce of opportunity in your list.

As discussed in this article, there are simply too many ways that multi-line dialing can sabotage this effort.

Interested in learning how scalable and efficient 1-to-1 communications can be? Want to test our platform to see how many fewer call attempts it takes to achieve your desired results?

Get a demo or launch your free trial.

Summary

  • Multi-line dialers may offer speed, but they come with issues like the "telemarketer's delay," dropped calls, and compliance risks, which can hurt sales efforts.
  • The use of multi-line dialers can lead to fines, increased hang-ups, damaged number reputation, and spam flags, all of which hinder effective sales calls.
  • Businesses switching from multi-line or predictive dialers to a 1-to-1 model like PhoneBurner often see a significant increase in connection and call engagement rates.
  • 1-to-1 dialing allows for better preparation for each call, avoids common pitfalls of multi-line dialing, and enhances personalization in outreach.
  • Using a platform such as PhoneBurner, sales professionals can execute 1-to-1 communications efficiently and at scale
  • ‍See how PhoneBurner can help alleviate these problems

What if changing the type of dialer software you’re using could multiply the number of conversations your team is having?

A company recently came to PhoneBurner to set up a pilot to compare the results against their current multi-line dialer.

They were stunned by how many fewer calls it took to land conversations.

Businesses switching from a multi-line or predictive approach to a 1-to-1 power dialing model like PhoneBurner frequently experience a significant uptick in connection and call engagement rates.

Why? Because while multi-line dialers deliver on speed, it can come at a cost.

In fact, here are 11 ways that multi-line dialers (aka parallel dialers) can negatively impact your sales efforts. 

Faster isn’t always better...

1. Telemarketer’s Delay

This is number 1 on the list for a reason.

Would you agree that the goal of phone-based outreach is to have quality conversations with your contacts?

Well, the dreaded “telemarketer’s delay” gets every conversation off on the wrong foot.

Your contact says, “Hello?” “Hello?”

Homer Simpson answering a phone call

Rather than hearing a “hello” right back, they hear an awkward pause.

Or an off-putting “bloooop.”

… before an agent finally comes on the line.

This happens because predictive/multi-line software intentionally calls many numbers at once, and relies on voice detection technology to determine when a call is answered.

Only then can the call be transferred to an agent (hence the delay).

Connecting with contacts is hard enough.

Do you really want your conversations to start like this?

2. Dropped/Abandoned Calls

The scenario above is actually the best-case live answer scenario as far as predictive dialers go.

Why?

Because the other thing that can happen after your precious prospect says, “hello” is that no agent is available to take the call. 

When that happens the call is abandoned, or dropped.

Your contact has answered the phone only to be greeted by dead air.

3. Fines/Compliance

Multi-line dialers subject businesses to additional compliance and regulatory standards.

One example directly relates to dropped calls, as referenced above. 

Exceeding a 3% threshold for dropped calls could devastate your business due to costly fines imposed by the FCC under the TSR (Telemarketing Sales Rule).

These fines can range upwards of $43,000 per call, in some cases.

The good news? It’s super simple to remove this risk entirely.

Dial with PhoneBurner, which completely eliminates the possibility of dropped and abandoned calls. As a leader in Responsible CommunicationsTM we take Trust & Safety seriously.

Woman wiping her brow as if to say "phew"

4. Hangups/Short Duration Calls

What happens when a contact says “hello” and an agent isn’t on the line to reply “hello” right back?

Oftentimes, they’ll hang up.

They either mistakenly believe the call is dead or they’re aware it’s a sales call and they’re put off by the nuisance.

As any sales rep or agent will tell you, getting hung up on is demoralizing.

But unfortunately for users of predictive and other multi-line dialers, the emotional toll is only a small part of the problem.

You’re risking significant damage to the reputation of your phone numbers as well.

Hangups and other quick disconnections result in what is known as a “short duration call.”

Carriers track these occurrences, and the frequency of occurence is incorporated into number reputation algorithims.

A higher percentage of "short duration calls" doesn't look very good.

If your team is consistently logging short duration calls, ask yourself, “what is this telling me?" and "what is it costing me?”

5. Number Blocks

Because calls originating from predictive/parallel dialers are more likely to be perceived as a nuisance (for all of the reasons highlighted above), the numbers are more likely to be “blocked” and/or reported.

Number blocks are costly.

Once a contact blocks your number, devices push subsequent calls straight to voicemail. This alone will effectively terminate your ability to connect with many of them.

However, repeated number blocks also damage your number reputation - which ties into reason #6, spam flags.

It’s a costly one-two punch.

6. Spam/Scam Likely & Call Answer Rates

Let’s put it all together.

  • Telemarketer’s delay
  • Dropped calls
  • Increased risk of short duration calls
  • Increased risk of number blocks

The carriers have sophisticated algorithms that track dialing behaviors and call patterns of all kinds.

The factors above - along with other call patterns that stem from parallel dialing - can make it more likely that even your legitimate calls get flagged as “Scam/Spam Likely.” 

Yes, your dialing software can considerably impact your risk of flags... and therefore, your answer rates and call engagement.

Let’s face it…

Number reputation is absolutely essential to your ability to engage your contacts in high quality conversations.

You need to keep your phone numbers clean, long-term, to effectively engage in outreach. If your strategy involves buying and dumping numbers as flags appear, you’re playing a dangerous game.

This is what spammers do - and carriers are on to it. 

That’s why carriers look for numbers with:

  • Established call history
  • Verified ownership
  • Consistent, reasonable calling behaviors
  • Healthy call engagement

…for confidence that calls should be delivered without spam flags.

If your legitimate calls are being consistently flagged, it’s time to partner with an expert.

7. Live Voicemail

Apple’s iOS 17 update introduced a game-changing feature known as Live Voicemail.

Think of it as call screening for the modern age.

Enabled by default, Live Voicemail changes the way people interact with their phones - especially when they don’t recognize the caller (quite common with sales outreach).

How does it work? 

‍

Rather than answering a call right away, iPhone users can read a real-time transcript of an incoming voicemail for context, and then answer the call.

In other words, voicemail is no longer a “did not reach” call outcome. It’s a golden opportunity for live conversations.

Unless you’re using a multi-line dialer, that is.

Since multi-line dialers rely on voice detection technology and bring agents to a call after they’re answered, there’s no agent on the line to interact with live voicemail.

Ouch.

With Apple’s ~57% (and growing) US smartphone market share, that’s a lot of opportunity missed.

8. Rushed Agents

As our CEO, Chris Sorensen, noted…

“Everyone wants to go fast. No one wants to be rushed.”

And therein lies another significant negative of parallel dialing.

While calling multiple numbers is fast, it makes it nearly impossible to prepare for a call.

Agents show up to live calls with about enough time to read the contact’s name. And that's about it.

Reviewing notes?

Examining prior call history for valuable context?

Sorry… John Smith answered the call 5 seconds ago.

It’s a stressful, and often unnatural way to prospect. And agents feel it every time they get someone on the line.

PhoneBurner’s 1-to-1 platform still delivers speed and efficiency, yet agents have precious time to prepare for every call. 

  • In power dialing mode, they can review call history and notes as soon as they disposition the previous call, and as the phone is ringing.
  • In pause & preview mode, they can pause to get the information they need, and initiate the next call as soon as they’re ready.

It’s a balance of speed and quality.

Personalization is key to building relationships with your contacts. If you’re committed to maximizing revenue-per-lead, isn’t it time to reconsider the multi-line approach?

9. Trouble Navigating Phone Trees

Not every number is direct.

Sometimes you have to navigate a phone tree to get to the party you’re trying to call.

When you’re live on the line, that’s easy peasy.

You listen to the prompt, make your selection, and have your call routed where it needs to go.

But when you’re parallel dialing, you're not even on the call. So that tree is more like a brick wall.

It’s just one more way multi-line dialing reduces the percentage of calls that actually result in a live conversation.

10. Sends the Wrong Message

How much do you value your leads?

Are you looking at outreach through the lens of:

  • How can I do this faster?
  • Or... how can I connect meaningfully with more of my list?

If the latter, multi-line dialers send the absolute wrong message.

Calling 5 or 10 numbers at a time and making those who answer wait for you to come on the line tells them, “my time is more valuable than yours.”

It’s a bad look. And it hurts outcomes.

1-to-1 outreach sends a completely different message. 

It tells your contact that you valued them enough to call them individually and intentionally. The experience is no different than if you dialed them by hand.

11. No/Limited Multichannel

One of the key advantages of a 1-to-1 communications model is that agents can coordinate additional touches based on the outcome of the call.

Whether an agent connects with a contact or not…

Whether a call goes to voicemail, no answer, or a bad/number…

… an agent using PhoneBurner can send a follow-up email and/or text message based on the call outcome - with 1 click.

A multi-channel approach results in more touchpoints, greater exposure, and increased likelihood of connection on subsequent call attempts.

Unfortunately, multi-line dialers lack this 1-click multi-channel functionality. Plus, because agents aren’t involved unless a call is connected, their ability to communicate with those who don’t answer is highly limited.

It’s just one more reason contacts are more-thoroughly and thoughtfully nurtured with a power dialer.

Want to Book More Meetings in Fewer Calls?

Speed and call volume are important.

But “calls made” isn’t a particularly good metric if your call answer rates are in the gutter. 

Or if the calls that do get answered:

  • Are lower quality
  • Result in hangups, and number blocks
  • Increase your risk of spam flags

How many calls is it taking to book a meeting?

If you’re burning through leads with less and less to show for it, it’s time to reconsider the technology you’re using to make these calls. 

Your goal should be to unlock every ounce of opportunity in your list.

As discussed in this article, there are simply too many ways that multi-line dialing can sabotage this effort.

Interested in learning how scalable and efficient 1-to-1 communications can be? Want to test our platform to see how many fewer call attempts it takes to achieve your desired results?

Get a demo or launch your free trial.

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