Losing Out With Leads? Take a Real Look at Response Time

Business.com / Marketing Strategy / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

If your business is one of the many that overestimates its lead response time and balance in initial outreach, it's time for a reality...

Many studies have shown that the faster a company responds to a lead, the more likely that company is to close. One survey found that responding to a completed form within 5 minutes versus 10 minutes led to a 900% increase in contact rate (Tweet this!). In a recent study by InsideSales, companies were asked about how they respond to leads, focusing on lead response time, persistence, ratio between phone calls and emails, and what method companies use to make their first response. What this study found is that many companies are overestimating their lead response efforts. Here's what the study found and steps your business can take to improve lead response contact rate and conversions.

Related: Follow Up With Leads for Maximum Conversions

A Response Reality Check

Many businesses who responded to the InsideSales survey overestimate their response time and initial contact methods. If your business isn't seeing success with lead generation, it may be time for a response strategy reality check. According to the InsideSales study, immediacy refers to the amount of time it takes for sales reps to attempt their first phone call and most companies tend to have an optimistic position as to how quickly their business responds. Nearly 25% of businesses think they respond to leads within 5 minutes. The interesting part: only 5% actually do (Tweet this!). Many businesses are more delayed in their outreach to leads thank they think and this slow response time negatively impacts their results and conversions. 20% think their company takes over a day to respond, but the truth is that 30.6% do. When just about one-third of businesses take over a day to respond, your business can gain a serious advantage over them with a faster response.

Related: Get started with a new lead generation campaign.

Stepping Up Your Sales Strategy

It's time to step up your sales strategy. Since most people are likely not contacted on the first attempt (in fact, probably under half), statistically, companies need to make between four and eleven attempts to contact over 90% of leads. While most companies estimate their team makes "more than five" calls, the most common number of attempts is zero. Getting in contact with leads often requires more than one or two attempts, so make sure your sales team isn't calling the contact only once before calling it done. Here are a few other steps you can take to step up your leads and sales strategies.

  • Respond to all leads. Of the companies with web forms, only 58.6% responded to the lead. Typically, the response rate is below 70% and is an area where many companies could improve. With such a low response rate, companies are essentially throwing away a good portion of their web-based leads.
  • Establish a more equal split between phone and email responses. Sales employees are brought on because of their selling skills and abilities. InsideSales found that 66.6% make their first contact attempt through email, though only 9.3% think this is the case (Tweet this!). Only sending out an email is a waste of skills team members can use over the phone.
  • Test different types of outreach with each lead. Some people prefer to be contacted over the phone and others prefer to receive an email in their inbox. If your form has an option for preferred contact method, make sure you're paying attention to what the lead selects. If the form doesn't, ask the customer in your first call and/or first email to ensure you're providing them with the best experience.
  • Use your content as part of your initial outreach. Content marketing doesn't stop when a lead fills out a form. Your sales team can use content as a way to incentivize action from a previously unresponsive lead. Provide industry-oriented or other relevant content in your first outreach to establish the one-on-one connection.

Related: How to Nurture Leads with Auto Response Emails

Is your business one of the many that overestimates its response time and balance in initial outreach? If so, it's time for a reality check. Low lead conversions could be the result of a poor response rate and turnaround time. Reevaluate your lead response strategy to determine whether or not your expectations are being met and if your team is following up as often as they should.

How fast does your business respond to leads?

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