A potential client in your area Googles loan services that you offer. Your well optimized website shows at the top of the search results. They click, they read, they’re enticed, they submit a contact form on your site.

Now what?

Red flashing lights and sirens go off at your office. You drop everything that you are doing. You dive for the phones as if your company’s life depended on it. Does that sound like the scene at your office? If your lead response protocol is like most other businesses, then the answer is probably no, and that’s a problem.

Calling your web leads back within five minutes or less could be the difference between success and going out of business. That may sound a little dramatic, but let’s take a look at some stats.

Over a hundred thousand B2B web generated leads were analyzed in a study conducted at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwest University. The study found that the odds of successfully contacting a lead at the 5 minute mark were over 100 times greater than at the 30 minute mark. Apparently most companies didn’t get the memo, because another study two years later of over 2,000 B2B companies conducted by the Harvard Business Review found that the average lead response time was approximately 42 hours, and the average salesperson attempted to contact a lead only 1.3 times. It is plain to see how response time and a commitment to follow up can make or break your business. The good news for you is, the bar has been set pretty low.

Clearly, allowing time to elapse before sales responds to leads is unfortunately all too common – not to mention costly. It’s alarming to think about the sheer number of sales leads – and, ultimately, sales – that are lost due to less-than-timely follow-up.

A second survey, conducted by Prof. James B. Oldroyd at MIT, set out to examine and track the lead response and lead nurturing strategies of 700 companies. For each company, a request for information form was completed to begin the tracking process.

The survey’s results were truly eye-opening. Here are its key findings:

  • Only 4.6 percent of the businesses used a strategy involving both phone and email
  • Less than 5 percent called within 24 hours
  • 19 hours, 31 minutes was the average sales response time by email
  • 36 hours, 57 minutes was the average sales response time by phone
  • 45.2% of companies sales teams never responded at all

Why is Response Time so Important?

When someone Googles a keyword phrase, they have decided that for a short period of time they are receptive to learning about the subject at hand. After all, they are the ones who asked about it in the first place. In the few minutes following their contact form submission, they are likely to still be on their device and in the mood to talk about what they were searching for. In fact, they might still be shopping around, exploring their options, and submitting the same type of form on another competitor’s site. You better be the first one to call them back. It’s pretty much game over if you are not.

Half an hour later, on the other hand, the mood has faded, call screening is back in full effect, and your lead doesn’t want to be bothered any more. Any attempt to get your lead’s attention from this point on requires barging in on their current state of mind.

You have an opportunity to make a great first impression. Try calling someone back in 3 minutes, and see if they don’t say “Wow, you guys are fast!” Imagine if all your prospects were awe struck from day one. How much easier would that make the entire sales process?

You can offer your services with fewer objections and at a more advantageous price. People choose to do business with people that they like and trust. The last thing any business owner wants is to get in a bidding war for the lowest price. A lead who is impressed from the very get go is not someone who is going to be raising all kinds of objections when you talk about price. You’ve already shown added value by being so responsive. You no longer have to compete with your rivals’ rock bottom bargains, because you are not in the same league.

How to Respond Quickly

If you are as convinced as we are of the impact a timely follow-up can have, consider trying these tactics to increase your sales success:

  1. Align Sales with Marketing – Without proper marketing and sales alignment, it’s easy for leads to fall through the cracks. By establishing processes for how/when leads are transferred to sales, each team focuses on what they do best.
  2. Determine what constitutes a qualified lead – Work with the marketing team to identify what is a qualified lead based on demographics and behavior. When marketing only sends over qualified leads (and nurtures the rest), sales teams are enabled to focus on the highest priority leads, loosening up bandwidth to connect with new leads more quickly.
  3. Commit to shortened response times – Establish current benchmarks for how quickly your sales team is following up on leads. From there set goals to shorten this timeframe. The closer sales can get to the 5 minute mark, the more likely they are to qualify and eventually convert a lead to sale.