Not to be dramatic, but your lead speed is the difference between winning and losing a deal.
Many B2B sales team calls and brainstorms relate to pipeline growth.
Did you acquire enough customers this month? What are your projections next month? Are your leads receiving enough outreach? Your end-of-month KPIs and revenue often rely on answering these questions.
Unfortunately, organizations often forget about lead response time in the sea of worrying about future growth. You can’t necessarily blame your sales team, either. After all, they’re building their book of business, number of actual leads in the pipeline, and revenue generated per month.
However, lead response time does matter if you want to focus on long-term growth.
The faster you’re able to respond to your leads, the more likely you can send them further down your sales funnel to convert.
When it comes to lead response time, time is money.
In fact, you’re 21 times more likely to qualify your lead with a fast response time than waiting 30+ minutes. You have a short window, and if you wait too long, you could miss out on once-eager prospects forever.
Before looking at lead response time stats, let’s look at how you can optimize your speed to lead time.
You’re 21x more likely to qualify your lead with a fast response time than waiting 30+ minutes.
What is Lead Response Time?
The lead response time
metric is the average time it takes a sales team member to follow up with a contact after identifying themselves as a lead, such as downloading content, filling out a form, or answering a call. You can make this metric more impactful by segmenting your leads
based on source and scoring those higher who took a high-value action. For example, a lead who requested a demo is potentially more critical to follow up with than someone who subscribed to your email.
Why You Need a Fast Lead Response Time
You’ve delivered rockstar copy and nailed your ad targeting to reach your audience. But what happens if your sales team doesn’t immediately follow up with the lead? Do they just sit in the queue? A fast lead response time helps B2B companies close deals quickly and scale. In 2020, digital advertising spending exceeded 378 billion dollars
, and analysts expect it to surpass 646 billion dollars by 2024. With your customers having more information at their fingertips throughout the buyer journey, marketers are fighting hard to turn every click into a conversion. How quickly your sales teams respond to your leads can make or break your conversion rates
. If you’re not responding as quickly as possible, you’re more likely falling behind. Here are a few additional benefits of a fast lead response time:
- Makes your communication a key differentiator from competitors
- Creates a customer-first approach that focuses on your lead’s needs
- Convert leads 391% faster in closed deals
How to Calculate Lead Response Time
Now that you understand lead response time, you need to calculate and develop a sales strategy around it. You can break the formula down into two steps:
- Time/date of new lead - time/date of follow-up response = # time passed to respond
- Sum of (#) time passed to respond for all leads / (#) contacts = average time passed to respond
The time passed can be counted in minutes, hours, or days depending on your speed to lead.Building this formula within your sales strategy gives your brand the best chance to convert new opportunities quickly. If you’re planning to actively report on lead response time, it’s critical to also create a dashboard and keep sales accountable. As a starting point, create a few objectives and KPIs around lead response time. Get started on these metrics:
- Average time (number of minutes/hours/date) it takes sales to follow up
- Number of follow-ups attempted per lead – it’s unlikely that your team will reach the prospect at the first attempt!
- Average number of follow up attempts it takes to convert
- Average sales cycle length (number of days/weeks/months)
- Number of demos and meetings scheduled
Is the Five-Minute Lead Response Rule Actually True?
How many times have you filled out a form and the confirmation response was, “Thanks! We’ll get back to you shortly.” What exactly does ‘shortly’ mean? By sending qualified leads away immediately after they show interest, you’re pushing them towards the competition.
On average, it takes B2B sales teams 42 hours to respond to a new lead and 38% of those leads never reply back. It typically takes 4.3 days of back-and-forth communication before the first meeting even happens. Meaning, you have more chances of getting ghosted by your new opportunities the longer you wait.
Studies show that businesses who respond to leads in five minutes or less are 100x more likely to connect and convert opportunities.
Businesses who respond to leads in five minutes or less are 100x more likely to convert opportunities.
Industry Benchmarks for Speed to Lead Response Times
Overall, your lead response time is going to vary depending on your industry, sales organization size, and lead type. For example, you should be responding to higher-quality leads first and working down the queue from there. While you’re going to want to respond as fast as possible to every lead, here are a few industry benchmarks
to keep in mind:
- Healthcare: 2 hours and 5 minutes
- Telecommunications: 16 minutes
- Small Companies (1-300 employees): 48 minutes
- Medium Companies (301-2500 employees): 1 hour and 38 minutes
- Large companies (2501+ employees): 1 hour and 28 minutes
As you can see, most industries are not implementing the five-minute rule. The faster you can make your lead response time, the more likely you can differentiate your brand and get in front of your new opportunity to maximize your pipeline.
How to Increase Lead Speed in the Sales Funnel
Due to lacking technology or resources, many B2B organizations cannot respond to leads quickly. As most lead routing and scoring software doesn’t prioritize speed, sales teams are never alerted to contact a prospect and must monitor their queue manually. If you’re facing bottlenecks in your pipeline, look at these best practices to maximize speed:
Invest in Automated Technology
Delaying responses by hours or even days can cause your newly acquired lead to drop out for your sales cycle. Instead, you need to invest in technology that automatically qualifies the lead
and encourages them to take immediate action. With the right technology, you can eliminate clunky sales processes and ensure the lead gets touched with real-time alerting by the sales rep. For example, once a prospect fills out a form, the technology prompts them to schedule a call and connect with a salesperson right away. Since they’re still on your website, they’re more likely to take the call with their assigned rep immediately. Imagine this process:
- Zero seconds: A lead visits your website and fills out a form
- 3 seconds later: The lead selects whether they’d like to schedule a call or talk now
- 1 second later: The lead chooses to talk now
- 6 seconds later: The lead is assigned to a rep and receives a call
By removing the complicated funnel process in this instance, your sales rep can connect and qualify a hot lead within 10 seconds. To increase your speed to lead through an automated process, book a demo.
Create a Strong Sales Cadence
Knowing that it may take your sales reps multiple times to contact a lead before the initial meeting, you’ll want to create a standard cadence strategy
. A sales cadence is the sequence and frequency of outreach that each agent needs to make to try to establish a relationship with a lead. There are six main communication methods for sales: text message, voicemail, phone, social media, direct mail, and email. Consider these best practices to get started:
- Attempts: Analyze data to learn how many outreaches your reps currently complete per lead.
- Channels: Understand where your leads are most active and their communication preference (email vs. phone, chatbot vs. text, etc.)
- Duration: Determine how many times reps should contact each lead before marking them uninterested – this will vary depending on your sales cycle length!
- Spacing: Space your activities out to give leads time to consider your brand, which should typically range between one to four days.
- Messaging: Write impactful, personalized content based on the lead’s user behavior or demographics.
Provide a Self-Service Option
Do your customers ask the same questions again and again? Are your sales teams having to repeat themselves? Whether you’re a small or large-sized B2B business, you can leverage content to manage time and resources. Build a frequently asked question (FAQ) landing page on your website and a one-pager that answers common questions. Also, consider creating a resource library with videos and eBooks that include in-depth tutorials. To take it even further, make your website dynamic with a search bar so leads can quickly find what they’re looking for instead of having to sort through content themselves. While self-service content isn’t as personalized as talking directly to a rep, it provides a fast customer experience that will impress and educate your leads.
Use a Chatbot
Sixty-seven percent of consumers choose to interact
with a chatbot and generate a 35-40% response rate
. If you’re looking to take advantage of technology to boost lead speed, embedding a chatbot on your website is a great way to provide fast and reliable customer service. You can integrate AI into your chatbot to learn common questions your customers are asking and send leads into a flow depending on their responses. Due to a chatbot's ability to instantly respond, you’re able to provide a fast lead response time 24/7. When building your chatbot, here are a few best practices:
- Set up a chatbot trigger to greet your lead once they have been on your site for a set amount of time to initiate the conversation
- Give your chatbot a personality that matches your brand image, but you’ll also need to set expectations so your user knows they’re not speaking with a human rep
- Make sure your chatbot includes real value to the user, like a FAQ guide or video
- Ask your user qualifying questions so you’re able to score and assign leads to the right rep
- Include the next step, such as scheduling a demo or call, to set expectations for your lead response time
Build a Community Around Your Brand
Now, building your brand may seem a bit off-topic, but it can have a significant impact on your B2B lead response time. Research shows that 67% of questions
can be answered by your customers. Meaning, your customers are your biggest brand assets. Do you want to build an army of brand advocates? Build your community on platforms like Slack, Facebook, Reddit, or Circle and invite your customers to join. In the forum, encourage members to ask questions or provide feedback. While it may take time to grow, your community will act like an extended customer service team that promptly responds and advocates for your brand.
Sixty-seven percent of questions can be answered by your current customers
Speed to lead
matters. A lot. With modern buyers having more information than ever before, your speed allows you to differentiate and build relationships faster with potential customers. Not to mention that in today’s hyper-competitive B2B landscape, it’s important to understand the consequences of a poor customer experience. Still need a little more convincing? Let’s look at a few more hard stats that make your speed hard to ignore.
- After five minutes pass, the odds of connecting and qualifying with the lead drop 80%.
- Fifty-five percent of companies take longer than five days to respond to a new lead and 12% don’t conduct any sort of outreach.
- Fifty percent of leads will work with the organization that contacts them first.
- Organizations that contact a lead within the first hour are seven times more likely to qualify the prospect than an organization that responds in two hours.
- Responding to leads within the first minute increases conversions by 391%.
- Sending emails at the right time can improve conversions by 53%.
- The average lead response time for website leads is 17 hours.
- Mobile devices drive 45% of web leads.
- Ninety percent of leads go inactive after 30 days.
- You have a better chance of connecting with a lead on Wednesdays and Thursdays.
- Slow lead response time increases customer churn by 15%.
- Thirty percent of your prospects will go to a competitor if you don’t respond quickly enough.
Prioritizing Lead Response Time in Your Organization
Bottom line: If you want to qualify and convert leads, you need to contact them as quickly as possible. However, it’s still important to remember that once the lead is in your pipeline, the war is not won. You still need to nurture leads with the right content, messaging, and cadence to lock in the deal.
To get started, analyze your sales team’s current practices. How many leads do they contact a day? How long are they taking to respond? How many times do they continue to reach out? All of this insight will give you an idea of where you currently stand and what main gaps exist in your organization.
From there, you’ll want to invest in the right technology that automates the process and ensures your sales team isn’t wasting time trying to scrub contact lists. Instead, technology platforms will quickly qualify, score, assign, and even reach out to the lead in minutes.
Looking for a way to increase your lead response time? Request a demo.