We get a lot of questions from customers who are evaluating a dialer for B2B sales and marketing. There is a good amount of confusion about the different types of dialing modes, their core capabilities, approximate costs, suitable use-cases and expected ROI. This is largely the result of the inconsistent terminology used across the market and 'packaging' of add-on features to core dialing capabilities.
To simplify we came-up with three basic definitions for click dialing, serial dialing and parallel dialing. We also provided explanations for a few other related dialer technology terms:
This allows a person to initiate a telephone call with a mouse-click and can then advance to the next call in a list. There are two main terms used:
This term has been used interchangeably with Click-to-Dial. Today it is more commonly used today to describe a feature that requests a callback from a agent, or opens a chat window, when a person is on a website. Example vendors include Vocalocity, Ring Central and Synclio.
This is an outbound call that is initiated by a single mouse-click on a phone number field in a system. This functionality is commonly enabled in CRM systems and email systems through Computer Telephony Integration (CTI) interfaces and allows the user to make a call without dialing the number. Example vendors include Insidesales.com, Skype, GoogleVoice, Vocalocity, Shoretel and Cisco.
More recently, Salesforce have launched their Lightning Dialer with Inbound and Outbound click-to-dial capabilities built natively into the new Lightning interface.
There are several names for the capability of dialing from a sequential pre-configured list. A Serial dialer is used in higher calling volume environments than a click dialer and can include automated next-call and call-balancing features:
A preview dialer makes sequential dials from a contact list and allows the agent to ‘preview’ the contact record prior to the call, and decide if they wish to proceed with a call or move to the next contact in the list. Calls are made sequentially and the agents do not know who has answered the call. See Power Dialer for example vendors.
A power dialer is the same as a preview dialer, where the calls are initiated by the users and not made until an agent is available. This term is more commonly used in B2B environments. Example vendors include Insidesales.com, CallFire and Five9.
A progressive dialer is similar to a preview dialer, but the system passes the call information to the agent at the same time the call is placed. The agent has a few seconds to view the call information, but is not in control of the calls and cannot typically stop the call process. Calls are made sequentially and assigned to specific agents. The agents do not know who has answered the call. Example vendors include VanillaSoft and Velocify.
A predictive dialer makes a large number of calls in parallel and then routes the live call answers to the next available agent. The latency and abandonment rates of predictive dialers may result in an extended delay when the contact answers a call, or in some cases no agent being available. The agents do not know who has answered the call. Example vendors include Voicent, CallFire and Five9.
Parallel-dialers incorporate third-party dialing agents to enable multiple simultaneous outbound dials to be completed in behalf of a single caller. The dialing agents and system ensure the caller is only connected to one prospect at a time.
Agent-assisted dialers combine a phone dialer with live agents and rapid call-transfer capabilities to deliver guaranteed live conversations to the caller. In a one-hour period callers typically experience 5-8 live conversations with targeted contacts. Parallel dialers are designed for B2B environments and have the ability to differentiate and navigate Dial-By-Name directories, operators and voicemail systems. When an agent makes a positive identification of a targeted contact, the call is transferred without noticeable delay to the Caller or contact. The agent does not speak to the contact in this process. Example vendors include ConnectLeader and NexSales.
Other Dialing Technology
Voice Broadcasting, also Guided Voicemail
A guided voicemail system, also called voicemail broadcasting, allows you to send thousands of voicemails at one time. These services are used when there is no requirement to speak directly to the recipient. Typical uses cases include announcements (invitations, warnings/alerts, new products, etc) and reminders (impending event, renewal date coming due, etc). Vendors use human agents to navigate through operators, gatekeepers and Dial-By-Name directories to guide your voicemail to the target contacts voice mailbox. Example vendors include BoxPilot, Voice Broadcasting and CallFire.
An auto-dialer is used in B2C applications and is a computer that automatically dials a phone number on a list, listens for the correct tone, and then plays a pre-recorded message to a voicemail system. Auto-dialers are primarily used to to leave pre-recorded messages on voicemail systems in residences, and do not have the ability to navigate Dial-By-Name directories or gatekeepers. Example vendors include Voice2Phone and VoiceShot.
Inbound Call Routing, also Automated Call Distribution (ACD)
The ability to route an inbound call to a salesperson quickly and accurately is critical to avoid missed opportunities. ACD is a standard feature of most PBX systems.
These systems either work through the use of line-hunting, Caller-ID routing or burst-calling all salespeople telephone lines simultaneously. Some systems use the Caller-ID of the inbound call to route the call to the agent or salesperson assigned to that specific number if it exists in the database. If the call is from an unknown telephone number a new record is created in the CRM system and assigned to a salesperson based on area code, or similar rules.
Some systems allow several salespeople to be called simultaneously so that the inbound call is answered in the shortest possible time.