The cost per lead is increasing, the classic marketing channels aren’t working anymore, the amount of content is also increasing day by day, the competition in Google Ads is active as well. The companies are looking for growth, new lead sources, ways to introduce new technologies. But at the same time, they seem not to notice the black hole that exists between their marketing and sales.
This black hole is the response time for potential customers’ queries.
40% of Leads remain unanswered
We conducted a market study and it turned out that the average response time for leads inquiries is: 4 hours 23 minutes to reply to an email, 5 hours and 17 minutes to reply to a contact form submission. We respond to inquiries from a person who is interested in our product after 4 hours. I wasn't surprised by this result, but I was surprised by the other - 40% of inquiries were not handled at all.
If you are a business consultant, the best advice you can give is "contact your leads!". It will improve the results by 40%.
Why do you have to respond quickly?
It’s worth to divide sales funnel into two stages.
Stage #1 Qualification: The lead qualification means calling a potential customer back or answering their email (depending on the channel) to check if they are still interested in the offer.
Stage #2 Sales: Here begins the real sales process: discussing the needs of a potential customer, presenting your offer, negotiating terms, handling objections and finally, if everything goes well, closing a deal.
In some businesses, the qualification and sales process are closely connected and can take place during one conversation. But this does not mean that there is no qualification process as such. It is an integral part of sales and can not be omitted at any cost.
When you respond to inbound leads immediately, you do not give a potential customer the opportunity to:
- change their mind or look for a substitute for your product,
- find a better offer or turn to your competition,
- feel ignored, forgotten, or irrelevant to you.
That's why Lead Response Time influences the qualification-to-sales conversion ratio, having an indirect effect on the sales conversion rate.
How to Decrease Sales Response Time
Option #1: Measure it.
You can't manage something you don't measure. That's a wise saying. It also applies here.
- If you use a chat, most tools have a "Time to Response" metric
- If new queries go into the CRM funnel, it is worth to create a "New contact" stage and measure how much time the contact is at this stage,
- As far as communicating over the phone is concerned, the Virtual Contact Centers or CallPage are useful solutions.
Option # 2: Take a control of all the lead sources.
Inquiries from potential customers come through many channels, not only the contact form or emails sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Even while contacting small companies with 50 or fewer employees, potential customers have dozens of ways to get in touch with them:
- company’s profile on Facebook,
- company’s phone number,
- company’s email,
- phone numbers or emails of employees,
- chat on the website,
- callback tools,
- inquiries in public social media comments,
- contact forms on a website,
- phone numbers/email addresses of former employees,
- answers coming to the inbox from which you send a newsletter.
Besides, there are indirect sources, if the business has such a part and sources that can appear only in some industries. For example, for e-commerce - price comparison websites, Amazon, Google Shopping, for SaaS companies - software review sites.
Option #3: Motivate people responsible for leads.
One of the most common problems which relate to sales reps is: they classify leads based on their subjective judgment, not data. The fact that one person is considered a more valuable lead and the other one as less valuable is quite a popular situation in the automotive or real estate industry.
This can not be changed overnight, because a top-notch car salesperson is hard to find and valued by dealerships. That’s why you will not fire a good employee for not calling a potential client back in five minutes or not answering an email within an hour. But you can influence their approach and explain why you require a, certain proactive attitude. Do it by coaching and gradually increasing the expectations.
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Option #4: Qualify it.
Not every contact is valuable, not all leads are made equal. When you have a lot of leads, and you can't handle them all fast enough, you have to classify them. Remember to create conditions for qualification that are not based on feelings, but facts and data.
Wrong approach: People who send emails are less interested in my offer than those who call. Because if someone is really wants to buy, they will call us.
Right approach: We reply to an email and then to a chat query. Because according to data from our CRM, we earn x2.1 more from the sales that started with an email communication.
This is obviously a simplification, but it presents an approach.
Option #5: Automate it.
Automation means eliminating some manual work and the risk brought by a human factor. The first solution to shorten the response time is to reduce the volume of queries and make only the necessary ones come in. A good way to do so is to create a Frequently Asked Questions list, a dedicated section that answers the most popular questions asked by users.
You can also automate the way potential customers are approached by your salespeople by implementing a service like CallPage, a system that offers an automatic call back and makes sure all leads are contacted.