As those of you who watched the Kentucky Derby a few weeks ago may know, the first horse out of the gate often has the advantage. At least, that’s what I hear; the only horse races I’ve ever attended are Charlottesville’s famed Foxfield Races—a spring event held in the hometown of my alma mater (The University of Virginia) at which students seldom actually witness any horses.
But I do know the idiom holds true when it comes to B2B sales: the first salesperson out of the gate usually wins the lead. A 2011 MIT study, in conjunction with InsideSales.com, found that sales reps were 100 times more likely to make contact with a lead if they called within five minutes of an online inquiry, as opposed to waiting 30 minutes. Likewise, lead qualification rates were 21 times greater when leads were called within 5 minutes. (Tweet this stat!)
So when we surveyed our business software vendors to ask how quickly they respond to leads, we were expecting nearly all of them would say that they contact leads within an hour. After all, that’s a full 55 minutes longer than the study suggests sales reps should call!
Sadly, that wasn’t the case.
As you can see in the chart below, over 1/3 of software vendors do respond to incoming leads in less than an hour. And more than half respond within 3 hours. But another third waits a full business day to call leads, and a shocking 7% waits a full week! (Tweet this stat)
I’m sure the third of you who respond within a day thought you were doing pretty well. That is, until you saw that in those 24 hours, your prospect has likely already started conversations with your competitors.
If you’re in the latter half of the lead response time group, or if you’re simply looking to speed up your response time, here are three ways you can improve your average lead response time:
- Internal Notifications: Note that the graph above says “excluding autoresponders.” Autoresponder emails are a great way to ensure the prospect gets some form of communication from your company within minutes of submitting their request. However, autoresponders don’t replace a good, old-fashioned phone call. If you have the ability to send your prospects autoresponders, send your sales reps one, as well. Set up an internal email notification to let them know that a new inbound lead has come in, and it’s time to pick up the phone.
- Man the Phones: Have a dedicated rep “on duty” for inbound leads. If you have a pre-sales team or sales prospecting representatives, they’re ideal candidates for the task. Sometimes, your top sales team members have an important client call or are on-site doing a presentation, and they can’t drop everything to respond to an inbound lead. Dedicate someone for a few hours each day to personally follow up with each incoming lead. It will pay dividends in the long run.
- Auto-Assign Inbound Leads in Your CRM: In most of the B2B sales environments I’ve encountered, sales reps spend the majority of their day logged in to the company’s CRM system, knocking out their tasks scheduled for that day. It may easily be a few hours before they see that email notification you set up in Step 1 because they’re so busy logging activity in the CRM on another screen. Eliminate the risk for this situation by auto-assigning inbound leads for follow-up in your CRM to the appropriate rep. Even better— auto-score the most recent lead submissions higher in the queue so that a notification pops up and the lead moves to the top of the to-do list.
Curious, what do you do to ensure a fast follow-up time? Have you been able to make big improvements to your B2B lead response time?
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