Types of Outbound Dialers, and Why a Power Dialer is the Best

Sarah Partin Martinez


12 min

Inside this article:

What is a Predictive Dialer?

What is a Progressive Dialer?

What is a Preview Dialer?

What is a Power Dialer?

Bottom Line: Which Outbound Dialer Should You Use?

Power dialer or predictive dialer? Progressive dialer or preview dialer? Which outbound dialer should you choose for your outbound call strategy?

In this post, we cover the four main types of outbound dialers, along with the pros and cons of each, to help you decide which one is the best for you.

What is a Predictive Dialer?

A predictive dialer is a type of automated calling system that automatically dials telephone numbers from a list. The software is able to identify when a call is answered, and then routes the call to agent after the contact says "hello."

While it shares similarities with auto and power dialers, a predictive dialer is different because it makes predictions on when a new agent will be available. This is why it's called predictive. It uses algorithmic based data to determine the likelihood of an agent being available, based on the number agents, calls, and other metrics.

Thus, a predictive dialer sometimes automatically dials a number even if there's no live agent available at the time of the call. While the algorithm "expects" an agent to be available, the contact hears silence and ultimately they hang up or the call is dropped.

Even when an agent is available, there is some audible delay as the call gets routed to the available agent.

The Pros of Using a Predictive Dialer

Predictive dialers improve agent efficiency. Predictive dialers automatically call telephone numbers in the background while an agent is on or ending another call. If using a predictive dialer, your agent won't waste time dialing a number and waiting on the line for a prospect to answer. Although the process may take less than two minutes each, those 2 minutes can add up. In a week's time, two minutes can translate to several hours of wasted time.

Predictive dialers eliminate bad numbers. Agents often waste time with busy signals and disconnected numbers. A predictive dialer filters out those numbers and only passes connected calls to agents. 

Predictive dialers scale up and down. If all of your agents are busy with calls, the predictive dialer can automatically slow down (or even stop) the speed of its dialing so that your prospects aren't put on hold for too long.

Predictive dialers call more than one number at a time. Because so many calls are likely to end in voicemail or no answer, predictive dialers try multiple numbers simultaneously. This increases the odds that your agent will get matched with a live prospect.

Overall, predictive dialers increase utilization while reducing wait times between calls. Predictive dialers ensure reps spend time talking to contacts.

The Cons of Using a Predictive Dialer

Predictive dialers don't give you the ability to prioritize or research prospects. Because predictive dialers connect calls based on availability, your agent won't be able to decide who to call next. As soon as an agent hangs up with one call, they’ll be connected with the next. This may not matter to some organizations, but if you want your agents to have more autonomy over who they call and when, or have time to review notes or perform research, a predictive dialer is not the best choice.

Predictive dialers can get you into hot water. The FCC strictly regulates the use of multi-line dialers, such as predictive dialers. If an organization - with a few exemptions including non-profits - drops more than 3% of calls, they may be in violation of the TSR (Telemarketing Sales Rule) and the TCPA (Telephone Consumer Protection Act). The FTC imposes fines of up to $43,792 per incident for violations of the TSR. Due to the complexity and potential for heavy fines for unintended misuse of predictive dialers, it’s recommended to consult your attorney prior to use.

There is an awkward pause at the start of every call. One of the biggest drawbacks of predictive and auto dialers is the dreaded "telemarketer's delay." Because the software routes the call to an agent only after it determines someone has answered live, contacts hear an awkward pause as they wait for an agent to come on the line. As a result, predictive dialers tend to increase skepticism and hangups, which can negatively impact results.

Who Should Use a Predictive Dialer?

Predictive dialers are popular with telemarketers and debt collectors. But predictive dialers can also be used by any organization that needs to connect with as many people as possible.

Predictive dialers are not desirable for organizations with smaller prospecting pools. If your agent needs to spend time crafting personalized messages in between calls, predictive dialers aren't the right move. With a predictive dialer, the agent doesn’t have a chance to even breathe before the next call.

Best suited for: Telemarketers, debt collectors, researchers (survey calls)

What is a Progressive Dialer?

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Unlike a predictive dialer that's central mission is to connect calls at a rapid pace, a progressive dialer waits for an agent to be available before dialing a number. It also provides agents with contact information before dialing a telephone number so an agent has a chance to review the prospect's information prior to getting into a conversation. Typically, the agent is given a set amount of time for this review.

While progressive dialers operate at a slower pace than predictive dialers, they enable your agents to get prepared for calls. Progressive dialers emphasize quality over quantity.

The Pros of Using a Progressive Dialer

Progressive dialers are automated. Agents don't need to manually dial a number. This reduces dialing mistakes due to human error.

Progressive dialers facilitate live connections and immediate conversations. Instead of contacts answering a call with no agent on the line (which happens when you use a predictive dialer), progressive dialers connect a live agent to a live prospect. This improves your prospect's opinion of your business.

The Cons of Using a Progressive Dialer

Progressive dialers aren't as efficient as predictive dialers. They only call one number instead of multiple numbers, like a predictive dialer. This can reduce the quantity of conversations.

Progressive dialers decrease agent productivity. Because agents can pause and review in between every call, progressive dialers take your foot off the gas - by design. This can increase call reluctance and impact agent rhythm. It also means agents are spending time reviewing notes for calls that are never answered anyway. Considering the fact that upwards of 70% of calls go to voicemail this can mean significant wasted effort and reduced efficiency.

Who Should Use a Progressive Dialer?

Predictive dialers are great for organizations that want to craft researched, individualized pitches to prospects who are likely to pick up the phone. Because the agent has a chance to review contact information prior to a call, progressive dialers are best suited for customer service calls, such as surveys, follow ups, and upsells. Predictive dialers also work for collections.

Best suited for: Debt collectors, customer service

What is a Preview Dialer?

A preview dialer is one of the simplest dialers available. It's an automatic dialing system software that dials numbers from a list. Before dialing a number, the preview dialer shares information about a prospect or customer with your agent. Then, your agent decides whether to make that call or skip to the next. 

Unlike a progressive dialer that doesn't offer a choice on who to call next, preview dialers give agents ultimate control over who they call and when. 

Unlike a predictive dialer that calls multiple numbers at once, a preview dialer only calls one number at a time, and only calls that number after the agent approves.

The Pros of Using a Preview Dialer

Preview dialers give agents more autonomy over their work. Your agent can choose who to call and when. 

Preview dialers provide necessary information about a contact. Instead of going into a call blind, your agent can be more informed about the contact, and craft their message appropriately.

Preview dialers connect live agents to live prospects or customers. Having an immediate connection reduces the likelihood of dropped calls.

The Cons of Using a Preview Dialer

Your agents are limited to one call. Preview dialers can only call one phone number at a time. This reduces your agent's overall productivity as they inevitably encounter voicemails, no answers, busy signals, and disconnected lines.

Who Should Use a Preview Dialer?

Preview dialers are best suited for sales teams that need to prepare themselves for a call. The agent may need to pause between calls to adequately research the prospect and personalize the sales pitch. This approach may improve their odds of successful conversion. If you're selling a higher end product and having fewer conversations, you may benefit from a preview dialer.

Best suited for: Customer Service, Sales

What is a Power Dialer?

A power dialer  is a dialing system that blends efficiency with outreach quality. The  software streamlines workflows (dialing, leaving voicemails, sending  emails etc.) to maximize live conversations and other touchpoints, but  without the contact knowing software is being used.

Dialer type - power dialer

Unlike a predictive dialer, with a power dialer the agent is always in control and on the line when the contact answers.  The agent hears the contact say "hello" and can respond immediately. There is also zero risk of dropped calls.

Setting a disposition on one call automates post-call workflows (e.g. sending an email based on call outcome, logging the call, moving the contact to another folder, adding tags, etc.) and initiates the next call - so an agent doesn't take their foot off the gas.

With a power dialer, agents can focus on live conversations while automating communications and workflows for unanswered calls, busy signals, disconnected numbers, and other common call outcomes.

Power dialers can be connected to your CRM so that agents have immediate access to all of the contact's information and call history, or, as in the case of PhoneBurner include a CRM for reps to work out of.

The Pros of Using a Power Dialer

Maximize conversation quantity without sacrificing quality. If the goal of your outreach is high quality conversations, power dialers offer a compelling combination of quantity and quality. Unlike with predictive dialers, because there is no "telemarketer delay" agents can make the most of every live answer, reduce hangups, and eliminate dropped calls entirely.

Power dialers improve productivity. Agents can get through 60-80 calls per hour using a power dialer, with all of their workflows handled for them. Unlike progressive or preview dialers, power dialers keep your foot on the gas, while still prioritizing focus on live conversations. A power dialer handles one call's workflows while dialing the next number. Your agent is still able to see the contact details and prepare during this time that would otherwise be lost.

Power dialers make the most of calls that go to voicemail. 7 out of 10 calls go to voicemail. PhoneBurner can leave a pre-recorded message (and send an email) with one click, without the rep having to wait for the beep. Save time and increase callbacks and replies.

Power dialers automate call logging and follow-up. You can also configure your power dialer to send personalized emails and automate follow-ups for any call outcome, but without any extra time or effort. Forge a stronger connection with your prospect or customer through multi-sequence cadences.

The Cons of Using a Power Dialer

Power dialers don’t make as many calls as predictive dialers. Your dialer will only call one contact at a time, on a single-line at each agent’s pace.

Power dialers offer reps less time to prepare. Unlike progressive or preview dialers reps have less time to research in between calls.

Who Should Use a Power Dialer?

Power dialers work well for teams who need to log information and perform workflows and follow-up communications after a call. If you'd like your agents to collect data after each call, a power dialer is the best option available. 

Best suited for: Sales teams with multi-touch cadences

Bottom Line: Which Outbound Dialer Should You Use?

While all of the above types of auto dialers will reduce manual dialing and increase call volume, power dialers have a definite edge by combining productivity with sales performance. If you need to personalize your approach, and build a trusted relationship with your prospects, a power dialer is the best solution.

PhoneBurner's power dialer also has a "pause and preview" mode for when reps need more time to research in between calls.

Learn more about PhoneBurner's Power Dialer features here.

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