There are many types of sales dialers, finding what sales dialer is right for your business will help you choose which phone system is best.

Your Go-To Sales Dialer Guide: Auto, Power or Predictive Dialer?

Max BaileyLast updated on January 2, 2024
7 min

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Successful sales prospecting is an enormous challenge. Closing deals with a profitable level of efficiency is a wholly insurmountable task without some sort of automated sales dialer software.

That’s because it usually takes a lot of phone calls to secure a deal. On average, it takes at least 8 calling attempts to reach a decision maker on the line, even when they’re already a ‘warm’ lead. On top of that, for 80% of deals, the lead says ‘no’ an average of 4 times before they are finally won over. Now, consider your long list of business prospects and run the math. Sales prospecting is a daunting task for any sales team.

Thankfully there are plenty of rapidly evolving sales dialers on the market, making inefficient cold calling a thing of the past. The question is, which sales dialer software is a good fit for your team? There seem to be so many, and the terminology is confusing, so let us make it simpler for you.

Despite the plethora of dialer names thrown around, there are really three main types of dialer software used today, with the most advanced and personalized dialers (preview and power dialers) classed under the umbrella term ‘progressive’ dialers. Listed from least to most personal, the three main types of sales dialers are:

  1. 1. Auto dialers

  2. 2. Predictive dialers

  3. 3. Progressive dialers (including preview and power dialers)

So, which sales dialer should you choose for your team? In this quick sales dialer guide, we explain the key features of each dialer out there, so you can make an informed decision for your own business.

Auto Dialer: The Shotgun of Dialers

The most widely known dialer is the auto dialer. Auto dialing is often not-so-fondly referred to as shotgun dialing, as this software blasts through as many phone numbers as possible, hoping to connect to any target. If the cold call is picked up by an unsuspecting recipient, the auto dialer either plays a recorded message (referred to as voice broadcasting or simply robocalling) or connects the call to a live agent.

Auto dialers are designed for large companies that are interested in making an extraordinary high volume of calls. Telemarketing sales teams pitching generic products, opinion polls, debt collectors or other enterprises carrying out simple cold-calling ventures might benefit from a basic mass auto dialer. For these teams, personalization is not a priority.

The obvious advantage of an auto dialer is unparalleled outreach, but this comes at a cost. If an auto dialer is used to connect accepted calls to a real human agent in order to advertise or sell, that agent can forget about prior preparation or lead research. This inevitably makes closing any kind of deal pretty unlikely.

Moreover, there may be an unacceptable lag between when the prospect answers and when the agent can attend to the call. This happens when multiple lines that are dialed simultaneously are answered at any one time, which is common. This sort of time-wasting is seen as a consumer rights violation, so robocalling is actually illegal in many states. Be aware that choosing a mass auto dialer means abiding to strict compliance laws in the US.

Predictive Dialer: AI Enters the Game

Let’s move on to the predictive dialer, a step up from the basic auto dialer. Basically, a predictive dialer is a smart auto dialer that dials multiple numbers according to an algorithm and refers the call to a human agent if it’s successfully picked up. Predictive dialers help to reduce agent ‘idle time’ from around 30% to a mere 5%, so they have a big impact on productivity.

Predictive dialers attempt to predict exactly what percentage of calls will actually connect. For example, if 25% of the numbers dialed from the dialer list are expected to answer the phone, the predictive dialer will dial four numbers at once based on the probability that at least one will answer. The dialer won’t attempt more, as that could lead to the scenario where multiple recipients pick up but the human agent can only take a single call. In reality, however, no algorithm is perfect. Despite the AI’s best attempts, multiple customers answering the predictive dialer is a very real possibility, leaving one echoing “hello” to a dead line. Not a good look!

Furthermore, predictive dialers depend on voicemail detection systems to appropriately handle calls. These systems detect live pauses, opening phrases, and other common conversation traits to determine whether the prospect has answered or if you’ve reached their voicemail. If the dialer gets it wrong, it could end up leaving a voicemail to the person on the line (and yep, that’s spam robocalling again) or mis-assigning a vacant line to an agent, which is frustrating for any sales team.

A predictive dialer is only suited for companies making a relatively high volume of outbound calls (so that prediction errors are manageable losses) where every call is usually attended by a live agent.

If your business has an essentially limitless lead list to dial from (like many telemarketing companies), then an auto or predictive dialer might be for you. If you manage a traditional sales team, like most, and you’re looking to increase agent productivity, keep reading…

Progressive Dialer: Getting Personal

The most personalized dialers are progressive dialers, and the most sophisticated of progressive dialers is the power dialer, but we’ll get to that!

Progressive dialers always dial one number at a time, hence their classification as ‘progressive.’ At the most basic level, a progressive dialer detects when an agent has ended a call and immediately dials the next number on a predetermined list.

A preview dialer is a specific type of progressive dialer (kind of like how “every square is a rectangle, but not every…”). This type of sales dialer goes a step further than a basic progressive dialer by allowing the agent a degree of control over the call process. Typically, a preview dialer displays the predetermined call list to the agent who can then decide whether or not to skip the next number in the queue. Furthermore, a preview dialer displays lead information about the upcoming prospect, enabling the agent to take a moment to research before the call is placed.

Preview dialers are ideal for when the agent hasn’t had time to research the entire call list beforehand, or when there are many numbers to work through daily. Unlike with other sales dialers, the decision making part of the call is entirely in the hands of the agent, and so preview dialers are seen as an efficiency tool rather than an automation tool.

Finally we come to the most evolved and personal dialer of them all, the power dialer. Again, thanks to the unparalleled level of agent autonomy granted by power dialer software, this type of sales dialer is more about maximizing efficiency and less about automation.

Power Dialer: Efficiency Meets Effectiveness

The power dialer is another type of progressive dialer, but it is more versatile and efficient than typical preview dialers.

Aircall’s power dialer can be programmed to automatically detect phone numbers from web pages through a Click-to-Dial extension on Google Chrome. The generated list is fully customizable by any sales team and total control remains in the hands of agents. Phone numbers can be skipped, call-back reminders can be generated automatically for no-answers, and the queue can be paused on command to allow agents time to take notes within the dedicated Aircall app.

During each call, Aircall’s power dialer displays up-to-date prospect information to the agent directly on the Aircall app as a screen pop-up. This functionality enables research and decisions to be made as the call progresses, rather than having to study lead information beforehand as with typical preview dialers. In the end, it saves valuable minutes! If sales teams integrate Aircall  with their CRM systems, it makes the whole process even slicker.

Moreover, Aircall makes the few minutes of after call work (ACW for those in the biz) between calls faster and easier once the customer has hung up the phone. With the Aircall shared inbox, after call work such as logging comments, assigning follow-up agents, or updating CRM systems can all be done in one step directly from the Aircall app. This features reduces input errors, saving your agents a bunch of time.

“If at the end of the day you save a couple of seconds per call, that’s 10 minutes. All of a sudden you have another 2 to 3 hours by the end of the month. It really adds up.” – Frederik Schwerdtfeger, Business Development Manager at Zizoo

Picking Your Ideal Sales Dialer

Now that you’re savvy in the types of sales dialers on the market, it’s time to make your final decision. Analyzing the type and volume of calls your company makes, together with the size of your sales team, will help you figure out which dialer is best for your business. If you’re not sure or you just want a second opinion, don’t hesitate to drop us a line!

The Aircall power dialer is ideally suited to increase the sales efficiency of small to mid-sized teams. Aircall is committed to nurturing sales teams that truly care about customer happiness and engaging in quality, personal conversations on the phone. That’s why our power dialer is far removed from the rest of the soulless auto and predictive dialers out there, and why our business clients enjoy such stellar customer service!

If you manage a growing sales team and are seeking a more personalized approach to calling prospects, while boosting efficiency, our power dialer feature could be exactly what you’re looking for.

Published on June 22, 2020.

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