What is a Good Lead Response Time?

Sales inquiries and leads go from hot to not interested faster than you might think

When a potential customer is interested in learning more about your products and services they reach out to you for more information. Since they’ve sought you out, this means theirs is a hot lead and your chance of closing the sale is high, right?

Not so fast. Their interest may be high when they submit the request for more information, but their enthusiasm wanes quickly. Their interest in buying from you goes from hot to not, much faster than you might think.

How fast is fast enough?

24 Hours: At one time the standard was to respond to all leads within twenty-four hours. That’s old school and laughable in today’s always-on, I-want-it-now consumer mentality. Seeking instant results, people are quick to move on and even quicker to forget if you don’t react in a timely manner. And an automated email message doesn’t count.

Get rid of the twenty-four-hour response time mentality, because your prospects have.

Same Business Day: Certainly, responding within the same business day is acceptable, right? Again, the answer is no. Though this is an improvement over a twenty-four-hour timeframe, it’s not enough of an increase to make much difference.

The temptation of salespeople is to batch their callbacks and crank through them at the end of each business day. Unfortunately, this is too late. By then the prospect has already moved on to something else. Your company has been forgotten. In fact, your prospect may have already bought from your competitor.

Four Hours: What about a four-hour response time? Basically this means that morning inquiries are handled in the morning and afternoon inquiries are handled in the afternoon. Once again, the temptation is for salespeople to batch these calls, returning them just before lunch and just before the close of business. But this isn’t fast enough. Besides, it’s hard to focus on the current lead, when you have four more waiting behind it. You’re just too anxious to go to lunch or head home to give it your best.

Ten Minutes: If four hours is too slow, is one hour better? Yes, it is, but sixty minutes is still not enough of an improvement. Ten minutes is the sweet spot, especially if the inquiry arrived over the internet, which is how most leads now come in.

Personally responding to a lead within ten minutes results in a twenty-fold better chance of a successful outcome than if waiting sixty minutes. This holds true for all verticals.

Sales and marketing people need to understand this. It starts with management who must hold their charges to a higher standard.

When it comes to successfully closing a lead, minutes matter. Don’t put it off. A lead can quickly go from hot to warm to cold in a matter of minutes, much faster than a hot cup of coffee goes from perfect to undrinkable. If your coffee’s cold, your lead is even colder.

Respond to leads quickly and close more sales. Everyone wins. It’s that simple.

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 contactus@callcenter-salespro.com or 800-901-7706.

Peter Lyle DeHaan is a freelance writer from Southwest Michigan.