Lead response time: how it impacts your business

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When you send a message to ask about a product or a service that you are interested in, and the company takes too long to answer back, do you feel discouraged to make the purchase? For many people, that’s a decisive factor not to trust in a brand. Lead response time can help you sell more or less. Have you ever considered it?

In the time waiting for a company’s answers there is space for other competitors to move faster, and convince the person to choose their product or service.  The Internet accelerated things, and that can’t be ignored.

A difference of even seconds can affect if the user is going to stay on your website or press the “return” button, with response time it’s similar.

There are thousands of options on the internet, why will the person wait for your reply when they can find other solutions with just one click? Slow lead response time can be what’s preventing you from growing. 

What is lead response time?

Lead response time refers to how long it takes, on average, for getting in contact with someone when this person is identified as a lead.

For example, when they fill a form to download an ebook, sign up for your newsletter, or when they send you a direct message. The faster the response time is the more chances to reach opportunities you have.

In the physical world, it’s very clear how impolite it is when someone enters a store to ask for something and is ignored, online that isn’t so obvious. Some companies that receive several messages in their emails, WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook, and other social media, but don’t bother to answer their prospects.

To build trust, develop a good relationship with your target audience, and turn leads into customers, ignoring these messages is unacceptable. That’s a practice that must be abolished. The question here isn’t about responding to them or not, but the time the leads have to wait to have their answers.

The importance of having a fast lead response time

The image has a graphic that shows the impact lead response time has on qualifying leads.

Leads grow cold fast

On a research made by  Harvard Business Review, with 2241 US companies, it was identified that the average response time, among companies that answered in 30 days, was 42 hours. In the age of the internet that isn’t a good rate.

A separate study also made by Harvard revealed that leads tend to grow cold very quickly. The companies that contacted their leads in the first hour had seven times more chances to qualify them when compared to the other ones.

You can lose business opportunities

How much does your company invest in marketing? According to Statista,  378.16 billion US dollars was the amount of money spent on online advertising worldwide in 2020, with internet being considered the most important medium for ads.

Investing in social media campaigns, pay-per-click advertising on Google, producing good content to attract leads may lose a lot of its potential if nothing is done when the leads send their information and don’t receive any contact or if it takes too long. 

Your competitors are targeting those leads as well, it isn’t like they are sitting patiently and just waiting for you. On the contrary, we are talking about a highly competitive environment. 

The chances to lose the investment made to conquer the leads by having a slow lead response time is very big as a study made by Lead Connect shows: 78% of customers buy from the company that answers them first.

5-minute lead response time rule

The image shows someone setting the clock hands

Now that you understand the importance of a fast lead response time and how it can affect your sales rates, the question remains: how long should it take to get in contact with a lead?

The Lead Response Time study, made by Dr.James Oldroy and published by Harvard Business  Review, pointed out that you should take no longer than 5 minutes. 

When you answer your lead in the first 5 minutes, you increase your chances of having successful contact 100 times. The sooner you reply the better. It gets easier to see why when we compare this situation with going to a physical store.

Imagine, you go to a bookstore to buy the latest novel from your favorite author. You look for the title on the shelves, find it, and go to the cashier to pay, but the book wasn’t registered in the catalog yet and you can’t complete the purchase. 

The salesperson asks you to return the next day, although, on the other side of the street, you see another bookstore with the book you want on the showcase.

Certainly, you are going to cross the street and buy the item you desire immediately. With the internet it’s similar. While you take a long time to answer, there is another company already contacting your lead.  

Take advantage of the fact that the person has just gotten in contact with your company, whether by downloading an ebook or sending a message to your company’s Instagram profile.

That’s the perfect timing to give continuity to the conversation that can develop into making a sale, or closing a deal.

How to decrease lead response time

In theory, it’s easy to see the importance of having a less than 5 minute lead response time, but, how to put it into practice? First, it’s necessary to train your sales and marketing team, make fast responses part of your culture.

Show your employees why lead response time is such an important metric, how it impacts the final results and can help them to achieve better rates. 

Monitor your social media channels

Someone or a group of people from your marketing team must be responsible for checking the comments and direct messages that are sent to your social media channels, every day. You can create some answer models to make it easier to start the conversation.

Also, the person must be able to identify the stage of the buyer’s journey that the lead is in, to see if it’s necessary to pass the contact to the sales team or keep nurturing the relationship in order to help them advance into the buyer’s journey stages. 

Align your sales and marketing departments

The communication among your sales and marketing teams must be in complete synchrony. If you don’t have good communication inside your company how are you going to ensure each lead is going to be answered on time, and receive the proper attention?

The success of both areas inside your company depends on one another’s actions, they must understand that to work together and improve the results. The marketing team must update the sales one about the campaigns that are made, the strategies implemented, and when there is any change. 

While the salespeople also should give feedback to the marketing team regarding how the implemented actions are affecting the number of sales and opportunities. 

For example, if the marketing department has just released a new ebook, made a huge launch campaign to attract new leads, it’s essential to tell the sales team that it’s expected to have a growth in the number of contact forms to be received in the next few days. 

This way, it will be possible to prepare the team to answer each lead in less than 5 minutes. They will be ready to deal with the increase of contacts by managing their priorities and being aware of the importance to focus on them. 

Score leads and creates priorities

If you receive a huge amount of leads per day, which makes it difficult for your team to be able to answer each one in less than 5 minutes, what you can do is to use a scoring tool, where you can set characteristics that qualify leads who have a higher potential to become buyers.

In the main CRM platforms, it’s possible to do that by adding what is needed to watch for. The software will send automated alerts to your sales and marketing teams about deals opportunities. Then, they will be able to prioritize the ones who have a higher score. 

Use email automation

Another way to help you improve lead response time is by automating email responses. As the lead signs up to your newsletter, for example, you can create a thank you note to be sent right after it.

Email marketing tools allow you to personalize the message by adding the person’s name and other details. But, it doesn’t mean the work is done, someone from your team must follow up the contact as well, and be ready to continue the conversation. 

Install a live chat software

According to Econsultancy live chat is the customer service channel with the highest satisfaction levels, 73% compared with 61% for email. It has several advantages, allowing the customer to have a conversation in real-time, which will reduce the lead response time.

Having live chat software encourages the customer to get in contact with you, it’s faster and more personal than email, but it doesn’t require full attention such as a call.

The Forrester report revealed that 44% of online customers believe  “having questions answered by a live person while in the middle of an online purchase is one of the most important features a website can offer". 

Use JivoChat and reduce lead response time

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Live chat can be the tool your company is lacking to have a better lead response time, allowing your prospects to easily get in contact, solve their questions and move up on the buyer’s journey. Try JivoChat’s free trial and discover how it can help you to increase your revenue.

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