Best Practices for Ultra-Fast Lead to Call Response Times and Contact Rates
Many companies invest heavily in generating online leads, but most of those investments are wasted because of poor contact rates. Lead to call response times are critical for converting online prospects to sales. Most sales go to the business (changed from vendor) who makes the first phone call to an interested lead. Still, the majority of companies simply aren’t responding and calling leads quickly enough.
A study from the Harvard Business Review audited lead response times for 2,241 U.S. companies—and the results were astonishing:
responded to leads within one hour
responded within 24 hours
took longer than 24 hours to respond
(with an average response time of 42 hours)
of companies never responded at all
Online sales leads grow cold quickly
Multiple studies have shown that the more time passes after a lead initiates contact, the less likely sales reps are to retain and convert those leads. When it comes to lead response calling, time is absolutely of the essence. A separate Harvard Business Review study analyzed 1.25 million sales leads from 42 B2C and B2B companies. The study found that contacting leads within an hour after receiving a prospect query was 7 times more likely to qualify the lead than calls made even one hour later—and over 60 times more likely than companies that waited 24 hours or longer.
However, even response times of less than an hour result in substantial waste. The Lead Response Management Study found that calling a lead in the first 5 minutes is 100 times more likely to result in contact than calling after 5 minutes, but before 30 minutes. Further, calling in the first 5 minutes is 21 times more likely to qualify a lead.
The same study also found that after 20 hours, every call a sales representative makes to a prospect actually hurts their ability to contact or qualify a lead.
Why companies aren’t responding quickly to online leads
Today’s consumers expect a near-instantaneous response when inquiring about a company’s products or services—and various technologies that enable this type of lightning-fast response are both affordable and accessible. So why are so many companies failing to contact leads quickly—especially considering the massive investments made in obtaining online customer queries?
There are a number of reasons companies are dropping the ball when it comes to lead response times. Some of them include:
- Sales lead distribution rules among reps, partners, and agents based on geography and/or “fairness”
- Sales forces trained to generate their own leads, rather than reacting to customer-initiated signs of interest
- The common practice of retrieving leads from CRM systems daily, instead of continuously
In order to maximize ROI for their online lead generation investments and campaigns, today’s companies need to invest in new tools, technologies, and processes that align with the expectations of the digital age and move at speeds customers expect.
Contact rates benefit from automated lead calling
Marketing automation is fast becoming a critical investment for any company that wants to develop and maintain a competitive edge. Advances in technology have led to the development of marketing automation tools across virtually every area, industry, and specialty—including lead response calling.
An automated lead calling and sales platform such as Ricochet eliminates the issues that prevent sales reps and agents from following up quickly on leads. Instead of manual lead generation or pulling batches of data from a CRM, the system automatically initiates a call the instant a prospect sends a query. The sales representative simply answers the phone when it rings. Lead response times reduce to mere seconds.
This ultra-fast contact time delivers substantial benefits to your marketing team. A recent case study from Speed to Contact found that calling leads within the first 7 seconds increases contact rates by 3.5 times more than calls placed any other time inside the first minute, and 6 times more than calls placed after one minute.
Calling leads multiple times
According to Forbes, sales representatives who actually call prospects make an average of 1.3 attempts to reach leads, before giving up and moving on to the next lead. Yet the Online Marketing Institute states that it takes at least 7, and often more than 13 “touches” to bring a prospect from lead to sale. In other words, 1.3 phone calls aren’t nearly enough to convert leads.
How many times should your leads be called? According to research from Marketing Wizdom founder Robert Clay, only one in 50 sales are closed with a first contact. In addition, 80 percent of sales are closed with five or more contacts from sales reps. Still, 92 percent of sales representatives give up after the fourth contact attempt. Further, a study conducted in conjunction with MIT found that setting a minimum of even 6 calls isn’t enough. The optimal strategy for converting leads to sales is 8 to 12 contact attempts over a 10 to 14-day period.
Multiple lead response calls can also be automated with Ricochet call center software and sales automation platform. The system’s configurable Drip-Dial feature can schedule multiple automated calls at any time intervals. Sales reps can maximize lead opportunities quickly and easily.
Cross-channel lead response strategies
Just as your customers are using multiple channels in their daily lives, so should your sales force implement omni-channel strategies to reach your customers, leads, and prospects wherever they are, and all at the same time. InsideSales.com reports that sales processes using multiple modes of contact, including phone, email, voice message, text, and fax, typically achieve a 90 percent contact rate—which is nearly double the industry average.
Once again, automation is the key to maintaining this high volume of fast-response, cross-channel lead contacting. Ricochet can integrate seamlessly with leading web, mobile, CRM, email ISP, and marketing automation platforms, enabling customized and highly coordinated multi-channel lead response strategies.
Ultra-fast responses result in up to 40 percent contact rate lift
In a recent case study—the first to review and analyze lead response times inside of a single minute—Speed to Contact looked at over half a million calls placed by organizations that rely on Internet lead generation strategies for sales. One client participating in the case study realized contact lift rates of 30 to 40 percent after switching to Ricochet, through the speed and efficiency of the automated platform.
For all lead response calls reviewed, contact rates were 3.5 times higher when leads were called within the first 7 seconds than for any time within the first minute. Ultra-fast lead response calling enables you to maximize ROI for your online leads—with higher contact rates, more qualified leads, and increased sales.
How Speed to Contact can help
Speed to Contact’s Ricochet is an enterprise class call center software and sales automation platform. It includes the world’s fastest internet lead dialer, which calls leads in 1 second flat. The Phone-1st system provides additional features, such as compatibility with your existing phone system, a real-time enterprise dashboard, simultaneous mobile and office calls, and more.
If your online lead campaigns aren’t converting into enough sales, contact Speed to Contact today. Find out how quickly your agents or sales reps are responding to leads, and see how your lead response times compare with other companies in your industry. You can also learn more about our enterprise-class call center software and sales automation platform—fully customizable to meet the unique needs of your organization, whether you’re a small business or a multi-location call center.