Lead response time can either make or break your sales. And that’s a fact. Remember when you read the article about the importance of inbound marketing? One of the most valid things stressed in it: you are not looking for branding, you’re looking for leads.

Leads are what literally leads you to sell the product. Lead response time is the exact time it takes you to follow up a lead that has contacted your business. As many researchers have shown in various studies, like the one conducted by Dave Elkington and James Olroyd you read about on the blog some time ago,  prove that immediate or close to immediate response time is the main factor responsible for a business’s success or failure. Don’t believe me? You don’t have to, believe the data.

Not all companies are prompt to respond

In a famous article published in Harvard Business Review, the above mentioned Elkington and Olroyd along with Kristina McElheran actually first stressed the problem of underestimating lead response time.

The researchers audited over 2000 of US companies investigating how much time they took to respond to a test-generated lead. The results were partially optimistic – great majority (37%) of companies responded to the lead in an hour or less, 16% did not wait more than 24 hours to do the same.

Nevertheless, as much as 24% of companies took longer than the usual maximum of 24 hours and the shocking 23% of the companies participating in the study did not respond at all. To sum up, the average response time for the companies who did decide to reply within 30 days was 48 hours. [source: Harvard Business Review]

This is disturbing, since…

Leads go cold quickly

Researchers were surprised to reveal the fact of negligence that companies had for their response time. Even more so, because of the results of a separate study they conducted. In short, Lead Response Management Study proved that the companies who contacted the leads within an hour were seven times more likely to qualify the lead*, than the companies who decided to contact the customers just an hour later and sixty times more (60x !!!) than the companies who waited 24 hours or longer. With money and time invested in getting the leads, it seems truly shocking that some companies are not using the Internet to their advantage and response in delay. [Source: LeadResponseManagement.com]

* have an actual conversation about selling the product with the customer

Lead response time matters

How to make sure your lead response time is optimized to the fullest? Let’s go into details.
In their study on lead response time, the researchers came up with detailed results. They analyzed information obtained from six different companies over 3 years. Read along to find out the exact time when following up the leads is effective.

What day of the week is the best to follow up the leads?
The best days to get in touch are Wednesdays and Thursdays, while Tuesdays are the worst. Thursdays are actually 49,7% better than Tuesdays.

What day of the week is the best to qualify the leads? 
According to the study, the best day to qualify the leads is Thursday which proved 19,1% more effective than Tuesday.

What time should you contact the leads?
4 to 6 pm is the best time to contact the lead, with 8 to 9 am and 4 to 5 pm to qualify it. If you want to combine all the efforts, you should call the lead some time from 4 to 5 pm in order to qualify it at 11 to 12 am the next day. [Source: LeadResponseManagement.com]

The sooner, the better

You now know the exact day and time optimal for following up a lead, but you can’t programme prospective clients to call you when you want them to. What you should place the biggest emphasis on is actually the time between obtaining the lead and following it up. Even on a Tuesday.

Statistics is merciless when it comes to putting your prospective clients on hold.

The odds of calling to contact a lead decrease by over 10 times in the 1st hour. The odds of calling to qualify a lead decrease by over 6 times in the 1st hour. After 20 hours every additional dial your salespeople make actually hurts your ability to make contact to qualify a lead.(…) The odds of contacting a lead if called in 5 minutes versus 30 minutes drop 100 times. The odds of qualifying a lead if called in 5 minutes versus 30 minutes drop 21 times.‘ – the researchers stated.

Lead Response Time InsideSales

[Source: LeadResponseManagement.com]

Do my competitors follow up THEIR leads quicker than me?

Prospective buyers fill out 3-5 lead forms on average [Source: LeadQual]. That means, you are racing with competition at this very point already. Believe it or not, but even the so-called industry benchmarks matter. According to a study created by InsideSales.com response time also depends on the industry. The researchers decided to investigate the time that companies in different industries followed up (called) their leads within three hours from obtaining them. These were the results:

Lead Response Time by Industry

  • Healthcare – 2 hours 5 minutes
  • Retail – 1 hour 55 minutes
  • Manufacturing – 1 hour 51 minutes
  • Software – 1 hour 5 minutes
  • Overall – 1 hour 2 minutes
  • Education – 56 minutes
  • Finance – 56 minutes
  • Business Services – 44 minutes
  • Media & Internet – 35 minutes
  • Telecommunications – 16 minutes

[Source: Geckoboard.com]

The above response times presented are, of course, equal to the average time it took for the researched companies to answer. Still, isn’t it a bit surprising that retail companies took so much time to answer while the ones in education needed only half of it?

Even if you feel some kind of relief now when you’ve compared the average industry time to your client response practices, remember, this data is available to everyone and your competitors will soon catch up. Provided they already haven’t, because…

Highlights:

  • Prospective buyers fill out 3-5 lead forms on average. [Source: LeadQual]
  • Calling a lead more than 5 minutes after a lead is submitted has a 46% lower qualification rate than calling in less than 5 minutes. [Source: LeadQual]
  • The first to contact a lead increases conversion up to 238%. Again, bear in mind that you are competing with at least two more companies.
  • More than 65% of all conversions occur on first call. Be ready to reply and sell your product as well as you possibly can.
  • Speed of response is the best predicator of a closed transaction. The sooner, the better. [Source: LQDigital]
  • 65% of B2B marketers have not established lead nurturing.  If you do, you are already positioning yourself ahead of the competition. [Source: MarketingSherpa]
  • The average sales person only makes 2 attempts to reach a prospect.  [Source: Sirius Decisions]
  • An average buyer gets 100+ emails a day, opens just 23%, and clicks on just 2% of them. You should always call your leads.  [Source: Tellwise]
  • Only 2% of cold calls result in an appointment. Again, remember to follow up the leads immediately.  [Source: Leap Job]

Hopefully, the data collected above will help you realize the importance of following up the leads quickly. Without a doubt, immediately following up the leads results in enormous sales growth. LiveCall can help you easily follow up these leads, or even better, convince them to contact you via phone. If you want to find out more visit our ‘Product‘ tab and register for a free trial. May your leads never go cold!

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