Research has proven that a fast response time can capture more leads and make each conversion easier. In many cases, the company that replies first is the one that gets the sale.
If someone asked you about the factors that improve sales, would you have said response times?
Even if you did, you may not recognize it as one of the leading factors in whether a lead converts or not. We spend so much time talking about improving the pitch, or choosing the right promos and offers, that we can forget the operational side. But it is no less important, and has a huge impact on how your business is perceived.
What the numbers say
In a study on lead response timeliness, researchers examined how the gap between lead creation and first response affected factors such as successful contact and lead qualification. The results were fascinating.
Response times of five minutes achieved many times the number of contacts and qualifications as times of 10 minutes. Similarly, responses within 10 minutes outperformed 15-minute ones. Responding within the first hour was six times more likely to qualify a lead than responding in the second hour, which, in turn, was about four times more likely to convert than the third hour. The longer you wait, the less likely the lead is still interested.
Another part of the study showed similar results. The likelihood of qualifying a lead can drop by as much as 80% from five minutes to 10 minutes. At the other end of the range, additional response attempts after 20 hours appeared to significantly lower the chance of converting a lead.
In short, this study revealed something that many salespeople already subconsciously know: Time is the enemy of sales.
The impact of waiting an hour or even a few minutes for conversion rates is hard to ignore. This research suggests that speeding up your response times is more likely to increase sales than almost any other factor.
Why response time affects sales
According to another study, the majority of customers buy from the first responder. The first response invariably sets the expectations for the search. This is a principle known as anchoring. If you start the conversation by highlighting the USP that sets you apart from your competition, this can become the deciding feature when the lead looks to make a decision between you. Conversely, if your competition gets the first conversation, you’ll find a harder sale.
Consider this: When you respond quickly to a lead, you are more likely to be contacting the lead while he or she is still thinking about your product and business. There is less resistance to continuing the conversation and potentially making the sale.
The average response time for most companies is 42 hours. This may make it seem like you have plenty of time to respond if you benchmark to your competitors. However, look at it this way: If you can get to the customer quickly, you could have nearly two days of attention with no other competitors. That kind of head start is nearly impossible to overcome.
Of course, not all businesses take two days to respond. If you are in a competitive field, you should expect to be at best the third responder if you take more than five minutes to respond. In other words, you may immediately remove yourself from the playing field if you can’t respond promptly.
When a lead reaches out to you for information, they are genuinely interested in what you have to sell. So, if you find that you aren’t converting a high percentage of these leads, chances are that a competitor is responding faster than you.
Improving your response times could be the simplest and most effective way to increase your sales.
How to improve response times
At this stage, you’re probably wondering how you can possibly respond to leads within five minutes consistently. Certainly, it is no simple undertaking. However, there are some strategies that can help. Before you try to improve your response time, it is valuable to know what it currently is. Then, you can begin using tools and processes to shorten that timeframe as much as possible.
Measuring response time
What is your current average lead response time? Chances are that you simply don’t know. Don’t worry, however, because you are not alone. Most businesses don’t keep track of this metric.
Famed consultant W. Edwards Deming once said, ‘if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.’ Fortunately, this is a relatively easy number to measure. Simply capture the time when you receive a new lead, try to make contact, successfully connect, qualify the lead and make the sale. You may be already capturing this information using your customer relationship management or lead management software.
Measure, then work to shorten your sales cycle.
Once you are measuring, it is time to start improving your response times. One way to approach this is with an automated response. This could be with information for a demo or just product data that is usually requested.
The key advantage of this approach is that it is consistently fast. However, the main drawback is that it doesn’t involve a human and is harder to customize to the individual request. Typically, this is most effective when you are able to capture some information on what the lead is interested in. This will help you to personalize the automated response.
Live response processes
Your first response does not have to be from a sales team member. After all, most initial responses are relatively generic. So, you can establish a process that ensures fast responses, 24/7. The initial respondent can help qualify the lead before passing it along to an account manager.
This approach is more valuable than automation because people prefer to buy from other people. Sales are built on relationships, and chatbots and AI cannot form relationships.
You can establish this as an in-house process, or partner with a team that can consistently respond rapidly. In either case, the respondent can either transfer the conversation immediately to a sales representative or set an appointment for follow-up. Having a fast response that sets up a future conversation is vastly superior to the alternative: waiting until a salesperson is available.
This is a powerful way to increase sales.
Provide 24/7 live response with HelloSells
Time is one of the most important factors in any sale. By responding to leads at the right time, you will find more receptive leads, who convert faster and are less likely to choose a competitor. By measuring and prioritizing response times, you can increase your sales and save time – time that you can then give back to new leads.
If you are struggling with your lead response times, HelloSells can help. By staying available by phone and chat 24/7, we can make sure that every caller is spoken to immediately. We can also call out to follow up with contact form leads, so you are still fresh in their minds when we respond.
Discover our lead response service, and see how we can help you improve your response times.