What is a Predictive Dialer? Everything You Need to Know

Sujan Patel is the founder of Mailshake, a sales engagement software used by 38,000 sales and marketing professionals. He has over 15 years of marketing experience and has led the digital marketing strategy for companies like Salesforce, Mint, Intuit and many other Fortune 500 caliber companies.
  • June 22, 2021

Why does your business do outreach?

It’s because it needs to be having conversations with the right people and building relationships. To do this, you need to make calls, but a lot of inefficiency can come with this process.

Time spent dialing and waiting to connect with the prospect is wasted, and this can drastically cut back on the efficiency of your outreach. This is where predictive dialers come in, giving you one of the most effective and quickest ways to get through a contact list.

What Is a Predictive Dialer?

A predictive dialer is a type of automated dialer designed to boost efficiency in call centers. It automatically dials through a call list, directing calls to agents as they become available, differentiating it from other sales dialers.

Using voice detection to recognize when someone has picked up the call, a predictive dialer ensures sales agents are spending more of their time speaking to prospects and less time waiting to connect.

This allows call centers to get through their contact lists much more quickly, spending more time speaking to prospects, and maximizing their return on investment.

How Does a Predictive Dialer Work?

A predictive dialer takes care of dialing and connecting to a number, leaving agents to focus on the main part of their job: talking to customers and making sales.

To do this, the predictive dialer needs to understand how many agents you have working, how long the average call takes when someone has connected to the call, and when an agent becomes available.

By plugging this information into an algorithm, it knows how fast to dial through the call list to ensure each call is quickly connected to a live agent.

Pacing Algorithm

The pacing algorithm is at the heart of how a predictive dialer works.

A dialer is meant to minimize downtime. When an agent finishes one call, they want to be immediately connected to the next call. However, you can’t afford to have your contacts waiting on the other end of the line to connect with the agent.

To ensure it’s dialing at the right rate, a predictive dialer uses a pacing algorithm to minimize downtime, and make sure contacts are quickly connected to a live agent.

Abandon Rate

Predictive dialers are all about making your outreach more efficient. By automatically dialing through numbers until it reaches a live call, a predictive dialer allows agents to spend more time talking with prospects.

To do this though, the dialer has to recognize when someone picks up and quickly route the call to a free agent. If no agent is available, then the person is left on the other end of the line cursing “yet another sales call.”

You want to make your calling process as efficient as possible, but at the same time, your abandon rate can’t be too high.

Agent Awareness and Call Center Size

Predictive dialers work best in big call centers. The pacing algorithm needs data to work effectively which requires a good number of agents to be available.

The more agents you have available, the better the predictive dialer works.

To start to see the benefits of a predictive dialer, it’s recommended you have at least eight to ten agents working in your team.

What are the Features of Predictive Dialers?

To make your outreach as efficient as possible, the best predictive dialers will offer a number of different features. These features should help you get through your dialing lists quicker, but also ensure that the consumer is protected and that you’re meeting your legal obligations.

1. Upload Lists

Upload lists allow you to sync your contact lists to the predictive dialer, usually in .CSV format. When you’re constantly adding new numbers to your lists, it’s important for this process to be quick and easy. The best predictive dialers will allow you to effortlessly upload your contact lists.

2. Manage Numbers

Manage numbers gives you control over how your predictive dialer dials through your list. For example, if a number is repeated on your contact list, then managing numbers can ensure the number doesn’t get called twice. It also gives you the option to choose certain numbers to dial, such as a mobile number, or numbers from a certain area code.

3. Do Not Call (DNC) Compliance

People have the right to opt-out of your calls and be added to a do not call (DNC) list. This is important because it protects the privacy of the consumer, but it also means you’re not spending time on people who don’t want to interact with your business.

Good predictive dialers will be able to place people on the DNC list in real-time and add your company DNC to the National Registry.

4. Vertical Dialing

Vertical Dialing allows you to add multiple numbers for each contact. This is important for businesses that need to increase their rate of successful communication attempts. For example, collection agencies that need to reach a specific person, rather than just any prospect.

5. Custom Caller ID/ Local Presence Calling

This feature allows you to choose the name and number that appears on your outbound caller ID. This can enable you to show a local caller ID when making calls to a certain area.

6. Call Scheduling Rules

Call scheduling rules set specific dates and times for when the predictive dialer starts and ends its automated dialing.

7. Answering Machine Detection

Your agents want to speak to real-life people, not answering machines. Answering machine detection can recognize when it’s connected to an answering machine, allowing it to move on and dial the next number.

8. Agent Scripts

This integration allows you to create customized scripts that help your agents communicate more efficiently. Scripting software integrates with your system, making the process more seamless.

9. CRM Integration

Your agents need to have as much information at their fingertips as possible. Predictive dialers that integrate through your CRM allow agents to check vital information and update contact lists in real-time.

How Sales Teams Benefit from Using a Predictive Dialer

Predictive dialers are all about saving time between calls.

The average reach rate for cold calling is around 15%, so if you’re using traditional dialing methods, then your agents are connecting with less than one in five prospects. They’re still putting in the time that goes into selecting a number, dialing it, and waiting to connect though.

Predictive dialers aim to reduce this wasted time. As soon as an agent finishes one call, they’re connected to the next one – it’s a much higher level of efficiency.

What are the Limits of Predictive Dialers?

Predictive dialers are certainly efficient, but they also have their limitations.

One of the main problems with predictive dialers is there can be a long pause between the prospect picking up the call and them being connected to an agent. People can find this very annoying – after all, you’re the one calling them.

This might mean your prospect is already less receptive to your message before the conversation has even started.

Another difficulty is that everything happens so quickly for the sales agents. While they may get some key information flash up on their screen when they are connected, they don’t have the time and detailed information to personalize the call.

Personalization is such a big part of modern sales, so this can be a major drawback with predictive dialers.

When considering a predictive dialer you have to take this into account. It’s important you get through your call lists, but at the same time, you’ve got to remember that high-quality calls lead to people taking action. This may be more difficult to achieve with a predictive dialer than other methods.

The Best Predictive Dialer Software to Consider

  • PhoneBurner – Easy to set up, with a built-in CRM and email marketing system. It has a straightforward pricing plan that helps you understand your costs.
  • Five9 – Efficient predictive dialing system that works well for outbound sales. With a focus on CX, it’s designed to help you generate more leads.
  • ChaseData – ChaseData is a good option for businesses making outbound calls on a large scale. With a range of pricing options, you’ll find the right package for your business.
  • Genesys Cloud – Genesys Cloud is a great option for multichannel communication.
  • Call Hub – With political phone banking and other features, Call Hub works well for nonprofits and advocacy groups.

Why Mailshake’s Sales Dialer is Better Than a Predictive Dialer

Mailshake’s dialer is a better option than predictive dialers for many businesses because of its high level of personalization.

Rather than just connecting a sales agent with a prospect (at the last second), it gives you time to plan each interaction before initiating it. You have everything in one place, combining call, email, and social outreach to create more meaningful interactions with the customer.

Yes, time is important and you don’t want to waste it waiting for people to pick up, but you’ve got to think about the quality of the calls as well. Many businesses are finding that Mailshake’s dialer offers the best of both worlds, helping them to create more leads and close more sales.


If you perform a large amount of cold outreach and you want to get through more cold calls, then predictive dialers are worth considering. However, they also have drawbacks when compared to auto dialers and power dialers.

You don’t create leads or make sales just by reaching people. You’ve got to be able to initiate meaningful interactions and build relationships. Sometimes, you need to take a step away from the idea of just plowing through a contact list in order to do this.

While you don’t want your sales agents to be wasting their time typing in numbers, you do want them to have time to plan their calls and make sure they’re offering a good customer experience. The technology you choose for your outreach will ultimately play a part in how successful you are.

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