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The State of Cold Calling: 2020 By The Numbers


2020 was a challenging year for many as the world faced the crisis of the pandemic, social injustices for equality, and economic uncertainty. 

As a small business, we faced numerous challenges as the market shifted during the different waves of 2020. However, we realize our team here at Superhuman Prospecting has a unique position, calling into a sample of the market over a multitude of industries at any given time. 

So, did appointment setting hold strong over the course of 2020? 
We took a deeper dive into our appointment setting results – here’s what we found. 

Quarter 1: The New Year and Beginning of COVID-19

The beginning of the quarter started out smoothly in January and February, leading to the start of the global pandemic in March. As of March 16, 100% of our workforce was operating remotely due to COVID-19.

Cold Calling and Appointment Setting Results for 2020


  • 86,645 Total Dials 
  • 6,251 Decision-Maker Conversations
  • 1,585 Total Leads 
  • 1.43% Appointment Setting Rate on Dials
  • 8.15% Decision-Maker Conversations on Dials 

Top Industries: Insurance, marketing, finance, SaaS, healthcare, eCommerce, logistics, IT & MSP providers

Analysis: When we began pulling and comparing the data we were seeing in March during the COVID-19 pandemic, we were curious to see how numbers stood next to January and February, which we considered normal economic times. 

While some industries were thriving, there was also an immediate shut-off of several industries we were set to call for. Industries revolving around events or restaurants were impossible to call into due to closures, as well businesses targeting locations where State of Emergency laws had been enacted. 

January and February were some of our largest dial volume months to date as a company. We had a record number of client campaigns, a record number of CTMs making dials, DM conversations, and appointments. 

Overall, March outperformed both January and February in terms of appointments set and our appointment setting rate. This is surprising because the number of conversations with decision-makers actually decreased from a raw data and conversion perspective. 

There was a larger dip in conversations from January to February than from February to March, but a few assumptions can be made by the sustained drop in conversations. Feedback from our conversations shows that people were more comfortable taking the time to speak. It seemed as though they had more time on their hands. 

Another assumption we can make from the data is that the economic slowdown sparked a change in the natural buying and selling cycles, resulting in more leaders taking the time to educate, prepare, and plan strategically. 

Quarter 2: Cold Calling Through Coronavirus 

With travel restrictions and lockdowns, there was an increase in office lines being transferred to mobile devices, and more people answering their phones. This led to a higher conversation rate, but due to an uncertain economy, overall, less purchasing was happening during this time period.

Cold Calling and Appointment Setting Results for 2020


  • 70,528 Total Dials 
  • 5,176 Decision-Maker Conversations 
  • 1,655 Total Leads
  • 1.25% Appointment Setting Rate on Dials
  • 8.55% Decision-Maker Conversations on Dials 

Top Industries: Many of our event registration, event servicing, and restaurant servicing clients began to drop off dramatically due to COVID restrictions across the country. However, many of our IT, SaaS, and insurance clients remained steady and on pace with standard or better appointment setting rates.

Analysis: April, May, & June saw our biggest drop in raw number of dials since many clients had to back off of projects due to COVID impacts to their business.  2nd quarter results also had some interesting fluctuations in conversation rates. We found conversations were lower in April and May, with appt rates, but then were higher in June. 

This may have been from office phone lines transitioning to VoIP numbers on mobile phones during that time. The drop in appointments may have also been from prospects either focusing on other things with slowed schedules, or there were budget cuts, so less purchasing was happening, and buying cycles slowed

Quarter 3: The Coronavirus Catch-Up

Paused accounts from the beginning of the year were ramping up again, helping to stabilize appointment setting in the third quarter of 2020. Here, we saw the highest dial rate since January, with more people willing to have conversations and book appointments.

Cold Calling and Appointment Setting Results for 2020


  • 100,973 Total Dials 
  • 8,143 Decision-Maker Conversations 
  • 3,329 Total Leads 
  • 1.18% Appointment Setting Rate on Dials
  • 8.43% Decision-Maker Conversations on Dials

Top Industries: While the event and restaurant industry were still out of the picture, SaaS and IT industries continued to thrive. In addition, new industry players, like PPE Suppliers, COVID testing companies, restoration businesses, and cleaning companies spiked and were looking for help handling workloads and generating more leads. The increase in the need for these COVID related services led to SHP outreach campaigns to help these companies connect with their prospects more quickly. 

Analysis: While there was some volatility in Q2, July and August stabilized higher numbers, even while the second wave of COVID hit the US during that time. There was also some mid-Summer consistency in openness to conversation and appointments compared to April and May. 

We also saw dials were higher in Q3 as many projects that were backlogged due to pauses from COVID earlier in the year had started. We saw a bump in projects and dials in Q3 overall compared to Q2 due to COVID-related businesses onboarding as well as prior clients and other businesses utilizing PPP loan money that was now available. 

Quarter 4: Holidays and the End of 2020

As we moved towards the end of 2020, we began to see a shift in market confidence. We had the highest appointment setting rates but saw a small decrease in conversation rates overall.

Cold Calling and Appointment Setting Results for 2020


  • 96,252 Total Dials
  • 7,471 Decision-Maker Conversations 
  • 3,433 Total Leads 
  • 1.19% Appointment Setting Rate on Dials 
  • 8.20% Decision-Maker Conversations on Dials

Top Industries: At this point in the year, the markets and industries in which we worked stabilized and shifts seemingly slowed to a new normal range of industries. While events and restaurant clients periodically entered back into the radar, SaaS, IT, COVID-related businesses, insurance, finance, manufacturing, supply chain, and construction made up the bulk of our projects during this time. 

Interestingly enough, the few travel-related services and software campaigns we ran saw an uptick in not only new projects being deployed, but also in an increased number of appointments compared to other projects. 

Analysis: Rounding out the dreaded year of 2020 in the heat of the third COVID wave, we found dial quantities continued to remain strong along with conversation and conversion rates to appointments. 

Our analysis is that while the pandemic raged on, new processes designed for remote work and the new economy were in place and moving, as well as news about a vaccine and a fresh year on the horizon gave confidence to businesses we reached out to. 

While Q3 saw higher appointments overall, Q4 had a higher appt on dials percentage (1.19%) that locked in a positive outlook for 2021. 

Cold Calling in 2020 and Beyond

2020 was of course a tough year for many businesses, but the theme throughout the year stood firm – appointment setting remains a solid sales and marketing strategy. It was interesting and encouraging to see the stability of appointment setting and conversation rates throughout the year in the midst of economic turmoil, multiple waves of the coronavirus, and transitions to a primarily at-home B2B office environment. 

Further, the demand for our client’s services was evident as the industry make up of clients at SHP shifted accordingly to the pains and needs in the marketplace. While some restaurant businesses and event companies are still looking for a rebound, many have been able to adjust and set up plans for longer-term growth in the near future. 

Now that we are well into 2021, the outlook is trending in a positive direction as companies continue to bounce back, and the economy delivers more signs of consistency through vaccines and a decline in COVID-19 cases. 

More Appointment Setting and Cold Calling Metrics for Sales Development Reps

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