If you still use old-school sales techniques to boost outside sales, think again. Nowadays, sales professionals use call-centers with autodiallers to take the drudge out of “door-to-door” sales. But, your agents must be efficient, so use software to dial several numbers simultaneously. Initially, the predictive dialer system filters unanswered calls. Then, it connects the answering dial to the next available agent, thereby reducing wait time.
On-site predictive dialers cost from $5,000 for up to 10 agents. But, it can reach $300,000 for a large call-center. In comparison, hosted services have a $500 set-up fee plus a monthly charge of $100-$200/agent.
For now, let’s say that the basic difference between on-site and hosted predictive dialers is who installs and runs the software. You install on-site predictive software onto your computers or servers, and your IT department runs it. In contrast, an outside company installs and manages a hosted service remotely. You should choose the best depending on your circumstances and budget. Both have pros and cons, but we’ll discuss these in detail later.
Purchasing a Predictive Dialer
A simple autodialer calls numbers from a list one at a time. It prevents human error in dialing mistakes and speeds up the process. But, you can purchase predictive dialer (PD) software that goes further than that.
PD software dials many numbers simultaneously and predicts when an agent will become available. The number of dials depends on the number of agents available, the time of day, the average call duration, and other factors. The software then filters out unobtainable numbers, unanswered calls, and answering machines. Finally, it waits a set time for someone to pick up their phone before transferring it to the next available agent. It can also play a recorded message if no sales agents are available at the time.
This tech’s main advantage is to ensure the call agent spends his or her time productively talking to a prospective client or dealing with a customer service problem. After all, that’s what you pay your representatives to do.
Predictive Dialer Benefits
Buying a predictive dialer ( also known as a predicted dialer) has many benefits depending on the type you choose and its features.
The problem with automated calls is that a representative can sit in their booth waiting for a call to be answered. And they might wait for a while before someone answers. This situation is inefficient and a complete waste of time and money. Your agents need to talk to prospective clients continually to earn profits for your company. In contrast, PD software actively predicts when an existing call should finish and lines up the agent’s next call with a minimum wait.
Callcentrehelper.com is a British-based contact center magazine with an international following. Based on its research, the company states that an agent’s efficiency increases when using a predictive dialer. Compared to manual dialing, predictive dialing increases an agent’s communication with customers from 10 to 15 minutes/hour to 50 minutes/hour. This rise works out to about a 200-300% efficiency increase.
Working in the cloud
An advantage of hosted dialers is that you don’t have to install the full software onto each agent’s machine. Therefore, by logging onto the provider’s cloud, your agents can work in the office or remotely.
Hosted dialers also have lower up-front costs. In effect, you’re paying a subscription for their service. Alternatively, suppose you use an on-site dialer. In that case, you pay up-front for the software and hardware and leave the running and maintenance to your IT department.
By using any dialing software, you eliminate the numbers that people misdial in error.
Finally, some predictive dialer services:
- Collect data to refine their prospective customer database.
- Record calls for training purposes.
- Improve the software’s algorithm.
- Log and analyze calls for upper management to modify sales and marketing policy.
Each additional software feature increases the price you pay. Therefore, it’s important to decide beforehand what your requirements and budget are.
Types of Predictive Dialers
There are two types of PD software, on-site and hosted. You must decide which one you prefer and do your research accordingly. But, remember that many providers offer both types.
Hopefully, you intend to use PD software for a long time. So, choose wisely considering your budget, the company’s present size, and how large you plan to be in 5 or 10 years.
Hosted Predictive Dialer Prices
Your IT team installs and runs on-site PDs onto computers on your premises. In contrast, an outside provider installs and manages hosted dialer software remotely. Your agents access the software from the provider’s cloud platform via an app loaded onto their device.
The dialer’s computer system accesses a targeted calling list from a database. The software runs through the list, trying to connect. It collects data and produces statistics for the algorithm to predict how long calls take and the best time of day to make the call. This continual data assessment increases efficiency.
The software monitors and collects statistics from the following list. It then calculates average answering times and how long an agent takes per call.
- The number of available phone lines.
- Statistical probability of answered calls being busy, fax machines, unanswered and voicemail.
- A rolling average of call connection rates.
- Average agent connection time.
- Geographical location and time zone called.
The software assesses when an agent becomes available and dials the appropriate number of lines to keep the agent in work. While making the calls, the system always complies with telemarketing and PD’s legal requirements.
Many providers offer this type of service. But, some of the most popular companies are:
This provider charges a starting price of $150/month/user. Generally, this option suits small and medium–sized companies as there aren’t any set–up fees, and you can add as many users as you want. Features include supplying different dialing modes for different needs, such as a choice between predictive, progressive, and manual dialing. Your agent can also handle incoming calls as well as outgoing. Furthermore, you can integrate automated email and SMS into the system. Finally, you can choose to pay monthly or annually.
This company provides three systems with a more complex pricing structure.
The basic plan (“Business” $36/month) offers a range of basic features, including:
- Call tracking.
- Recording, scoring, and tagging.
- Call routing.
- Full customer support.
“Marketing” ($83/month) includes everything from “Business” plus
- Unlimited accounts.
- Social media integration.
- Flexible billing.
- Conversation analytics
- And more.
“Contact Center” ($249/month) includes everything from “Marketing” plus
- Predictive dialer.
- Agent performance reporting.
- Remote employees.
- And more.
Each plan charges extra for various usage features. For example, local minutes, toll-free calls, and text messages ranging from $0.045/minute to $0.065/minute and $0.014/text.
Cloudtalk also specializes in small and medium businesses. This system handles outgoing sales calls and incoming customer service calls simultaneously.
Prices start at around $20/month/user based on the number of agents. On top of the basic monthly charge, you pay more for additional features, such as:
- Predictive dialer.
- Call logging, monitoring, recording, and re-routing.
- Call accounting.
- And many more features.
Depending on which type of business the provider targets, you might be charged by the minute, the hour, or an all-inclusive fee.
Probably, the customer’s best choice is a basic fee and then add whatever features are necessary. This way, you only pay for what you use. Remember, your bill charged by the minute will usually round-up the total to the nearest hour. This method might or might not be beneficial for you depending on the feature’s usage.
On-Site Predictive Dialer Costs
As you would expect, an on-site predictive dialer needs a central server or individual computers on your premises to host it. Your IT team installs and runs the software rather than an outside provider. However, the provider will probably supply initial training and technical back-up to your team to help them run it.
You can buy these systems as part of a more comprehensive call center software suite or stand–alone applications.
If you buy one of these separately, the lowest purchase price will be about $5,000, rising to around $300,000 for a system to run a complete call center. To narrow this down, expect a plan for 25 users with hardware, installation, and full training to cost around $60,000. In comparison, an 80 line system costs about $200,000.
However, remember that these prices are one-off payments and cover a varied range of features. Furthermore, you don’t have the continual “subscription” fees charged by hosted dialer providers.
Predictive Dialer Pricing Factors
The cost of a predictive dialer, whether on-site or hosted, has many variables. Below we have outlined the major factors that will vary the quote from your provider.
1. Quantity of Agents
The number of lines the software can handle determines how many agents can work simultaneously. A package designed to handle ten lines will cost less than one running 100 lines. Some systems can even run unlimited numbers of agents, but these will cost more.
2. Quantity of Lines
You might think this is the same as the number of agents. But, you can have incoming lines as well as outgoing ones. Furthermore, you might also have the capabilities to include email and SMS communication too.
3. Allocated Monthly Minute Caps
Some predictive dialer providers offer plans that specify a maximum number of minutes per month. However, it’s quite easy to go over the specified monthly minute cap. In cases like this, you have an extra charge added to your bill. Usually, the additional fees are charged at a premium rate to discourage you from going outside your allocated range. Suppose you expect your agents to exceed the monthly cap regularly. In that case, it will be more economical to upgrade your plan, thus incorporating the extra time.
4. Extra Features & Integrations
The main variations in the cost for a predictive dialer come about by including the systems’ different features and integrations.
Customer Relationship Management integrates the different software types handling customer data within your business. Ideally, all sales and marketing personnel need access to the same information. This includes telemarketing data, so integration is essential. Some of the popular integrations include:
- Social Media.
- Call Center.
- Customer Support.
These are pre-recorded messages giving instructions or information to incoming callers. One of the most popular is the ‘menu option’ (Press 1 for marketing, 2 for customer service, etc.). But you can produce more comprehensive messages if necessary.
Point of Sale (POS) integration allows companies to manage in-store sales and purchases. This includes using a credit/debit card, producing receipts, and updating stock-level data.
Business Intelligence / Analytics
BI analyzes data from past and current transactions and inquiries to produce a picture of the company’s current state. This data allows the upper management to steer the company towards better profits and lower overheads.
Your company can record audio calls to improve customer experiences, improve agent training and steer business decisions.
By US Federal law, all telemarketing and predictive dialers interacting with the consumer must abide by a set of rules regulated by the Federal Communications Commission and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act 1991 (FCC & TCPA). All PD software will already have this compliance incorporated within it. And, have the ability to add to the restrictions if the regulations change.
The DNC (Do Not Call) registry lists persons who have specifically requested not to receive marketing or sales calls. All dialer software will use this list to screen prospective call numbers. Compliance is part of the TCPA requirements.
Some domestic phones display the name, number, and area code of the incoming line before anyone answers the call. The system uses various online databases and modern technology to find the information. So, the recipient can filter unwanted phone calls. Some telemarketing companies use local area codes. Thus, they appear as a local business, and phone subscribers generally answer a local number. Alternatively, national area codes show them to be more upmarket, running a national campaign.
US Regulation: FCC & TCPA Rules
As you would expect, a government agency regulates telemarketing contacts with the general public. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) governs interstate and international communications throughout all states and US territories.
Predictive dialers are just one of the categories in which the FCC maintains regulations laid down in the Telephone Consumer Protection Act 1991 (TCPA). One of the rules states that this software mustn’t call more than 3% of numbers if no agents are available to take the call (silent calls). Also, unanswered telemarketing calls mustn’t ring for more than 15 seconds or four rings. Typically, PDs comply by adjusting their call rates according to how many agents are available to take the call.
Additionally, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act doesn’t allow predictive dialers to make unsolicited calls to mobile devices. Also, PDs must comply with the “Do Not Call Registry.”
Typically you’ll find all reputable providers of hosted predictive dialers ensure that their products comply with the various regulations. But, you should always be sure this is the case.
Predictive Dialer Q&A
Are predictive dialers illegal?
No, they aren’t illegal but are highly regulated. The Telephone Consumer Protection Act protects the consumer from the effects of unsolicited calls placed by PDs. Any calls not complying with the terms of the Act are illegal.
What is a triple line dialer?
Suppose you imagine a single-line dialer calls one number at a time. Then, a triple-line dialer calls a maximum of three phones at a time. The PD software will then connect an agent with the first person who answers their phone, up to a maximum of three.
Of course, there is nothing to prevent a triple line dialer from operating as a double line or single line dialer. This depends on how many agents are available.
What is the difference between a predictive dialer and a progressive dialer?
The two dialers allocate the calls to your agents differently. A PD dials and connects multiple lines simultaneously based on an algorithm using an agent’s average call length.
In comparison, a progressive dialer allows prospective customers to talk to agents for as long as they want. The dialer only allocates the next connection after the call finishes. This method is more customer-orientated, rather than trying to increase employee productivity.
After reading this, you might want more information about how an on-site or hosted predictive dialer service fits into your business plan. If so, get in touch today for a quotation based on your specific requirements and their associated predictive dialer costs.
Jason is a B2B sales veteran spanning 3 decades and Founder of ApprovedCosts. Jason has scaled sales and marketing teams at a variety of enterprises and is a recognized expert in the field. Jason holds an MBA from NYU Stern School of Business.