Lead generation is a vastly important feature of your site. You want as much of your site traffic as possible to be generated into leads. After your site has generated a lead though, how important is a quick response to this person in order to qualify them and convert a sale?

It is quite surprising just how crucial response times are when qualifying sales leads in terms of whether a sale will be made. A survey conducted by Prof. James B. Oldroyd at MIT, looked at how lead response time impacts sales. It’s no surprise that waiting a long time to qualify a lead can make that lead go cold, but the findings of this study are quite shocking.

One of the key takeaways was that the odds of making contact with these potential customers increased 100 fold if the lead was called within five minutes, rather than within 30 minutes. The study is certainly worth a read but the gist of it is that the shorter the lead response time, the higher the chance of qualifying that lead and converting the sale.

So what can be done to speed up your process for replying to leads?


Set Benchmarks for Response Times

If your sales team has a target time to respond to a lead by, then they will be much more likely to reduce their response times to within this time period. Cutting down the expected response time to within 5 minutes is of course a ridiculous ask of your sales team, but beginning by setting the target as a day and then working it down to a few hours is both acceptable and motivational as they will eventually be able to work down to this target.

If your sales team is able to begin qualifying sales leads faster, then they will also gain motivation from the change in results they will be achieving. Prof. Oldroyd’s research shows that a shorter lead response time increases the success that sales teams have with getting in contact with leads and converting them to sales, so if sales are contacting leads faster they will be able to hit more targets in terms of conversions and therefore will be motivated by this too.


Align Sales and Marketing

Slow response time can often be down to a lack of information flow between marketing and sales. Marketing may be hard at work prospecting and generating leads but if they are not passing on this information to sales straight away, then sales cannot act on the information. Setting up an automated CRM system where lead generation information can be instantly shared with sales can greatly improve efficiency of the process. If marketing also work at qualifying sales leads in some way then the sales team can prioritise which leads to contact first in busy periods.

Leads can be qualified at different levels. Some leads may need a little more nurturing before they are sold to and therefore either sales need to be made aware of this or marketing need to remain in control of this lead before they can consider attempting to convert them.


Automated Contact

Communicating with leads through generic email doesn’t always create a positive experience, but if your sales team are a little too busy to respond to a lead within a reasonable time with a call, then an email can keep you in your potential customer’s mind for longer. If a member of the sales team is unable to find the time to make the response call within a few hours, firing off an email personalised with the contact’s name can mean the world of difference as contact is still kept quick and frequent with the lead. The email should explain that a call will be made soon and if an estimated time is given in the email then it should be stuck to by the sales team; otherwise the lead could feel unwanted and could go cold.

An automated email can also be used to further qualify a lead. Did this lead open the email? Did they click through to additional content contained in the email? Or did they decide to unsubscribe from your mailing list?


Qualifying Sales Leads in Real Time

Prioritising leads through some form of lead qualification has already been mentioned as a time saver which puts your resources to work on the people who are most likely to benefit your business. Real time online lead qualification cuts out your marketing team having to do it over a long process of multiple interactions; or your sales team having to do it through an inefficient phone call.

Form completions with extensive information requirements are a potential method for qualifying leads in real time. Over complicated forms or forcing visitors to complete forms for little in return aren't good ways of qualifying sales leads though. Using site analytics or live chat are also potential avenues for real time lead qualification; using data and/or conversation to qualify your potential leads is very effective and potential leads often don't realise that they are being qualified as they browse your site and chat.