Responding to leads: Are you moving fast enough

A new lead comes in?—?the clock’s ticking. How much time do you have to respond before your lead falls off the radar?

Everyone seems to know that, when there’s an opportunity to close a sale, time is of the essence. Yet, research statistics out of Harvard Business Review show that most companies are slow to respond to leads, meaning they aren’t handling online queries effectively.

Looking at over two thousand U.S. companies to gauge how long they took to respond to a web-generated test lead, the results found that 24% took more than 24 hours?—?and 23% of the companies never responded at all.

What’s even more interesting, is the stat that reflects just how important timely responses can be. The research suggests that companies that respond to leads within an hour, are 7 times more likely to convert leads to sales.

Companies that try to contact leads within 60 minutes of receiving a query “are nearly 7 times as likely to have meaningful conversations with key decision makers as firms that try to contact prospects even an hour later”?—?the report reads. However, only 37% of companies manage to follow up with leads within an hour.

Every minute counts

The Harvard Business Review demonstrates the importance of responding within an hour, but what happens when looking more closely; at the minutes that follow the submission of a lead?

The Lead Response Management Study shows just how much every minute can cost you when your leads are awaiting response:

Image from Lead Response Management Study

“The odds of calling to contact a lead decrease by over 10 times in the first hour.”

“The odds of qualifying a lead in 5 minutes versus 30 minutes drop 21 times.”

Why is response time so important?

The reason why the time you take to respond matters so much is not only to do with top-of-mind-awareness (a vendor is still fresh on the consumer’s mind when the contact occurs), but also because of, as Ken Krogue refers to, the “wow effect”.

Would it freak people out if you got back to them seconds after receiving a lead? Perhaps there was a time when this could have been a bit of a concern?—?but with all the recent advances in AI and technology, the truth is that consumers nowadays want and expect an instant response.

Responding fast to a potential customer is a great way to make a good first impression. It shows that you’re interested, and it tells them a bit about how quick your service can be?—?helping to build trust right from the start.

Beating your competitors to the punch

As much as 50% of sales go to the vendor that responds first. So, how can you make sure you are handling leads effectively and be the first to respond?

1. Equip your team with the latest live chat technology

More than ever, consumers are demanding immediate attention, which is why businesses are increasingly turning to live chat software that can facilitate an instant response.

A modern live chat tool can allow your sales team to be ready to strike a conversation whenever someone is interested in your product or service; and engage in conversation to answer questions in real-time.

With no need for submitting forms online, or consumers having to wait for your emails; live chat can simplify the funnel to a single conversation.

Aim to get back within 5 minutes for optimising your chances of success.

2. Use automations for tailored responses

Automated responses can provide good support for when you can’t provide an immediate personal response?—?providing your team is able to pick up and follow up, as appropriate.

In the usage of automated responses, it’s important to avoid auto-responders that come across as a canned response. Make an effort to personalise your messages. A good automation tool allows you to tailor messages to customers’ behaviours and actions, ensuring content is not only timely, but relevant and to the point.

3. Follow up effectively

Apart from commonly slow response standards, statistics also show that companies aren’t persistent enough at following up on leads. On average, companies try to contact a lead only 1.3 times before quitting.

Think about how many choices consumers have out there. Your potential customers can be hesitant and require a level of attention that can only be achieved through appropriate following up. This is why persistency can be so important.

Communication is key for keeping potential customers advancing through their decision cycle. By not following up effectively, you’re letting your leads fall off the radar and giving your competitors space for stepping in.

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