It’s impossible to deny that there have been huge changes in the process of obtaining and access to the information in the 21st century. The main data carrier has become the Internet, which revolutionized our path to their acquisition. The world has accelerated. According to the Central Statistical Office, in 2018 74% of Poles (28 million people) are using the Internet in Poland. We are bombarded with hundreds of messages and various kind of information every day. Our brains, however, are not adapted to process such large volume of information, so we try to filter messages, news and notifications that reach us, whereas the giants of the digital industry deliberately focus on content personalization. We often forget what we have been doing online two days ago (remember this sentence - it will be crucial in the further part of the article).
On the other hand, the internet is making you lazier. Almost all information we seek is provided to us in an affordable "instant" form. For example, after entering the word "digital marketing" google finds 1 470,000,000 results in 0.40 s. We are getting used to such a pace and expect the same in every segment of online life, including purchases or inquiries.
From the business point of view, no matter whether you run an online store, marketing agency or sell an innovative tool as a SaaS, the key to success is a quick response when the user requests additional information about your service, tool or product offer and saves by filling the contact form, sending an e-mail or calling. Lead Management comes with help here along with the LRT indicator - Lead Response Time, which helps you to optimize the sales process and increase the chance of sales by 10x.
But let's start with the general concept of managing leads.
What is Lead Management?
Hundreds of articles and blog posts refer to the topic of lead generation. The subject is often discussed and reproduced. Marketers focus on the most expensive and the most demanding part of the customer's lifecycle, which is lead acquisition, forgetting about an equally important stage of managing already acquired contacts.
Lead management is a process of managing leads, people who within your marketing ecosystem leave their data in order to obtain information about your service, product or in case of inbound marketing - downloading reports, e-books or other materials distributed by you. The concept of lead management comes from multi-channel marketing activities. New contacts ae constantly added to the database (CRM), this stage is called lead generation. The next stage is the qualification of contacts, i.e. the assessment of the lead’s value in terms of sales.
This is a critical step in the whole process, because some of them are ready to buy a product, service or consultation, whereas some require further marketing and some never finalize transaction. Contacts, which are assessed as ready for sale (according to the methodology strongly promoted by Hubspot) we define as SQL - Sales Qualified Leads in CallPage. They are transferred directly to the sales department and are ready for contact from the salesmen. Users who, according to our criteria, will not yet be interested in purchasing the goods we provide are MQL - Marketing Qualified Leads. Working with such contacts looks completely different. It is important to implement the Lead Nurturing process – i.e. the education of a potential client. Our task here is to communicate with the user, build a need in our product/service, and then transfer to the sales department. The last most satisfying stage is contact from the merchant and closing the deal.
Where can errors appear?
The first, basic problem is the lack of a common definition of SQL in the marketing and sales departments. Such a situation leads to inefficient sales process and frustration from both traders and marketers. The solution in this case is to clearly determine the qualifications of a user, who is ready to buy. For example, Marketing Manager, who runs a website with monthly traffic of more than 10,000 visits - because these criteria match your business model. The definition must be updated once in a while.
The second major mistake is that contacts are usually transferred to the sales department too late or the sales department is late to contact the customer. This is the point where the Response Time comes in.
Lead Response Time is the average time it takes for a sales representative to follow-up with a lead that requested a contact. We are going to represent the main arguments why Lead Response Time is so important.
First of all, waiting or lack of contact irritate users. As we mentioned previously, we live in an instant generation - we expect an immediate information. A few years ago, in the US one flash mob took place, during which customers of restaurants who weren’t serviced for more than thirty minutes - posted a photo on Twitter, which presented the ketchup message "I waited 30 minutes, I was not served". This situation can be transferred to the digital world in a 1: 1 ratio. If you complete the form on the website and you do not receive any response, you will be frustrated. It is completely a different case if the waiter informed you about the high occupancy due to the high quality of served meals and suggested something to drink. Similarly, it is enough to notify potential customer with an automatic message after the contact form filled, which indicates when the contact is expected from our side.
The second reason why Lead Response Time is so important is that chance to close the deal decreases every minute. The longer the response time is, the lowest chance to close the deal. Why? Because is you contact the lead immediately, you are both on the same page and you know what the customers was viewing at the moment. Moreover, a potential client will remember you! Let's go back to the sentence from the introduction, "We often forget what we have been doing online two days ago." In case we contact back potential customer in a few days after the contact request was submitted, there is a great chance he will not remember your company and what he was looking for last Wednesday.
Harvard Business Review
Harvard Business Review spent three years in the United States conducting research on three thousand companies, which is quite significant amount. During the survey, sales activities of fifteen thousand unique leads were studied. The results of the study were the data regarding the best day for contacting leads, the best hour for conducting sales talks, but the real disclosure turned out to be a record regarding the impact of the response time on the sales opportunity.
Warning! Contact in the first five minutes after the lead has left the inquiry, has 10 times greater chance to sell. Yes, it's not a mistake, but just an outcome of studies of a serious business publishing company. If you want to hear more about this topic, I invite you to the webinar, which we regularly run with Bogdan Tyskyy - the Head of Business Development at CallPage and Nataliya Lysyk – Business Development Manager. We will, step by step, discuss the topics of Lead Management and Lead Response Time. The nearest webinar is in just two weeks.
And here the question arises, how to get closer to those desired 5 minutes?
- The first step is pretending to be mysterious client by setting up a fake account and trying to reach your company’s staff via all possible channels of contact (contact forms, Facebook, email etc.). I encourage you to set up a cyclical event in your calendar: "LRT", during which you will check what is the average response time in your company.
- Take care of the frequency of measuring this metric. Which tools are best to use to regularly measure and control the Lead Response Time? The one is CRM, which most of us are already using. It is enough to add a supplementary metric based on 2 time slots (adding contact to the system and first contact) and our statistics are ready.
Another way is to add an additional LRT column in a report. It is a bit simpler, but requires a greater amount of work is Excel.
- Notifications. At the moment when you receive an inquiry, your phone, company channel on Slack or Skype gets an automatic notification. People responsible for the sales are able to react immediately.
- A solution for smaller companies that are not able to handle all queries are chats and bots, but also callbacks that automate the process of first contact. There is also the "wow" effect, because you contact a potential customer in a few of seconds, not minutes or days :)
- Usage of information on Lead Response Time on your website. Inform your clients what is the expected response time in contact forms, emails, (no need to do it in Messenger as Facebook has taking care of it for you) and you will notice that the conversion rate on your pages will start to grow.
The topic of Lead Management and Lead Response Time is very broad. If you want to learn more about it, about top practices and some useful tricks, once again, I invite you to a free online training!