Sales call reality check: Up to 72.38% of prospecting time wasted

Sarah Partin Martinez

8 min

Inside this article:

The Cold Calling Time Drain



Notes & Workflows



Putting Time Savings to the Test

Takeaways and The Future of Outbound

It’s 2020.  A new year, a new decade.

Sales people everywhere (myself included) are wondering: with more communication methods, product research efforts, and purchases moving online each year, is the sales call going the way of the dinosaur?

Actually, no.  Not even close.  

In fact, Hubspot found that “sellers who prospect agree the phone is [still] essential, including cold calls.” 

And there is a lot of data to back that up.

These are just a handful of sales stats that illustrate the continued value of the sales call.  

But here's the thing.

Just because phone prospecting is a valuable activity doesn't mean you're not wasting a ton of time doing it.

The Cold Calling Time Drain

How much time you're squandering on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis depends on your dialing and follow-up habits.

But for most salespeople, it's significant. In fact, for some, over 70% of prospecting time is wasted. More on that later in the article...

Here's the good news. Technology can help you reclaim that lost time and transform you into a beacon of prospecting efficiency.

Knowing where you're wasting time is key so let’s take a look into your prospecting process with a few important questions.


How much time do you spend listening to and leaving voicemails instead of having productive, live sales conversations? 

  • The Problem: For every 100 phone calls you make, you can expect roughly 80 to go to voicemail. At 30 seconds to get to the beep and 30 seconds to leave a message, that's 80 minutes of time-sapping repetition per 100 calls. No wonder so many sales reps don't leave messages (even though they should).
  • The Solution: Instant voicemail drop can reduce that to mere seconds. Cloud based technology allows you to leave a pre-recorded voicemail, in some cases, without having to listen to the greeting or wait for the beep.


Do your fingers get tired and mistype numbers?  Do your eyes play tricks on you after staring at that long list of numbers for hours on end?

  • The Problem: If you’re using a list, a phone, and your fingers -- you’re wasting precious time on every call. The phrase "finger fatigue" is often thrown around, but the mental fatigue is even more costly.
  • The Solution: Dialer software saves your fingers, eyes, and brain from overwork. It also saves you a ton of time.

Notes & Workflows

Do you stop to add notes and tags between each call? How long does it take you to organize or reorganize your contacts based on call outcomes after a calling campaign?

  • The Problem: If this is a major time drain for you, you’re not alone.  Pace Productivity’s 2017 study revealed that salespeople only spend 22% of their day directly related to selling with a whopping 35% spent on administrative and processing tasks.
  • The Solution:  With the right software, contacts can automatically be moved into customized folders, or sent to others on the team based on call outcomes. Notes and tags can be automatically applied as well.  Workflow automation significantly reduces administrative processing time, leaving more time for calls or other high-value activities.


Emails facilitate the sales process and increase contact rates and callbacks. Are you taking the time to send emails to people you call -- whether you reach them or not? 

  • The Problem: With email being buyers’ top contact preference (at 80%), you could be losing out on sales if you skip this step.
  • The Solution:  Sending personalized emails can take a lot of additional time, especially if you want to capture the outcome of your most recent conversation. With the right dialer, you can trigger personalized emails based on the outcome of every call, virtually eliminating time-consuming call-based follow up.


Are you making multiple outreach attempts (as research proves you should) or are you running out of time?

Putting Time Savings to the Test

More conversations = more sales. But the average salesperson only manages to make 52 calls per day with 13% of calls resulting in a live answer.  That means just over 6 live conversations per day, including gatekeepers.

How much of a difference can technology make?

To find out, we enlisted 23 employees to call 2 batches of aged leads. The first batch was dialed manually. The second was dialed using the PhoneBurner power dialer.

Phase I: 10 manual calls - a phone and a spreadsheet
Phase II: 10 calls with PhoneBurner - select contacts, start dial session

The agents involved in the study ranged from experienced salespeople (like our Sr. VP of Sales with over 3 decades of experience) to new SDRs (like me!) to Onboarding Specialists who don’t regularly make outbound calls.

Here were the results:

Median dialing time for 10 contacts:

Manual dialing:  22 minutes
Using PhoneBurner: 6 minutes

This represents a 72.73% increase in productivity using PhoneBurner.

That's roughly equivalent to getting through the same number of calls in a quarter of the time; or investing the same amount of time, but having nearly 4x more calls and conversations to show for it.

Here's a breakdown of the time-savings on a per call basis.

Same workflows, less time

As an added benefit - as evidenced by some written feedback following the experiment - the team also reported reduced stress levels and call reluctance:

  • “Incredible how much faster & easier it is... and much less stressful while dialing!”
  • “It was really stressful to dial manually and to have to use the spreadsheet for the script and the customer's info. I was obsessively checking the name and the number I was dialing so that I wouldn't say the wrong name. It was a HUGE relief that I had the emails automated, the script was ready with the customer's name, and I didn't have to worry about making a mistake.”
  • “It takes a lot more time to have to wait to leave a voicemail and manually send an email.  The fact that PhoneBurner takes care of all of that with the click of a disposition button is amazing.” 
  • “I definitely felt more in control with PhoneBurner and that I was making good use of my time.”

It's important to note that when using PhoneBurner, there is no awkward pause or connection delay. Contacts don't know that software is being used so call/conversation quality is identical to manual dialing.

Takeaways and The Future of Outbound

Phone prospecting is far from dead.

On the contrary, it remains among the most viable sales communication methods that exists today. Furthermore, the salespeople who make more calls and followup attempts enjoy far greater success than those who quit after one attempt.

Bottom line?

Having a cadence that includes calls and emails (and texts), is critical to getting the most out of your prospecting lists.

Having software to power you through those touch-points, by automating time-consuming workflows ensures you have the time to do it.

the office kevin GIF

Sign up for a free trial of PhoneBurner (no credit card needed) and experience how much time the software can save you. Clients rave about the platform's ease-of-use, support, and free white-glove onboarding. And no special equipment is needed. Make the magic happen with any phone or softphone.

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