In looking at lead response times, we already know that the faster the lead response, the greater the chances of closing a sale. For most companies who care about such things, their focus is on getting their salespeople to respond faster. This is a great start, but it doesn’t address the entire issue. This is where lead processing time enters the discussion.
That’s because the clock starts ticking the moment the prospect clicks submit on their online request form. But it takes time for the information to make its way to the salesperson. Here are three common ways companies process sales leads, along with what you can do about them to fast-track lead processing to improve your sales team’s results.
Some organizations, most of those with large sales teams, have automated lead processing. This means as soon as the prospect submits their information, technology takes over and enters the required information into the CRM (customer relationship management) system. Though this is automatic, it isn’t instantaneous. This process takes time, with each minute of delay putting the salesperson at an increased disadvantage.
Look for ways to speed up the automated processing. Consider aspects that can be done in parallel, rather than sequentially. Also explore aspects of augmenting the database that can be done later instead of right away. An alternative is to pass on key information to the salesperson immediately as the lead processing takes place. Regardless, the goal is to get information to the salesperson as quickly as possible, hopefully within seconds.
Other organizations may not have an automated process. Instead they rely on sales support staff to manually enter lead information into their CRM system. Even at its best, this takes several minutes, but worst-case scenario it takes a day or more. By then the lead is cold, and the chances of closing it are slim.
This isn’t a criticism of staff who processes leads. Instead, it’s an acknowledgement that these people have other duties to perform as well, must deal with interruptions, and have any number of distractions that could keep them from completing this time-critical task.
There are two possible solutions to effectively deal with this scenario. The first is to invest in automation software that can cut hours of delay down to minutes. The other consideration means sending leads directly to sales, so they can work on it, while the sales support staff inputs the information and merges supporting data into the CRM record.
The last consideration, which exist primarily in small organizations, sends leads directly to the salesperson who must manually enter it into the CRM system. In this scenario there is no automation and no clerical processing. Everything is in the hands of the salesperson. The risk in this is that the salesperson doesn’t, or can’t, process the lead right away. Maybe they’re busy, or perhaps they prefer to batch this task and do a whole day’s worth of processing at one time, maybe at the beginning or end of each workday. Regardless the prospect will likely have lost interest by the time the salesperson has the information entered into the CRM system and can finally make their first contact.
As an alternative, instruct the salesperson to make their all-critical first sales contact before entering any information into the CRM system or doing any research on the prospect. Then, after they make contact, they can start the CRM record, along with the needed research and entering ancillary data.
Each of these lead-processing methods has an inherent delay that impacts how quickly the salesperson can make their first contact with the prospect. This in turn dramatically decreases sales rates. The key is to analyze your lead process, whatever it may be, and look for ways to speed it up. That way you can fast-track sending critical information to the salesperson, so they can make first contact as fast as possible.
Janet Livingston is the president of Call Center Sales Pro, a premier sales and marketing service provider for the call center industry, which helps clients improve the effectiveness of their communications and grow their business. Contact Janet at firstname.lastname@example.org or 800-901-7706.
Peter Lyle DeHaan is a freelance writer from Southwest Michigan.