Response times can make or break a sale. When your sales leads express interest in your brand, their intent to buy is on the upswing. Fast lead responses keep this interest rising. But slow ones can cause interest to fade before momentum even starts to pick up.
Your lead response time, also known as speed to lead, measures the amount of time it takes for you to follow up with potential clients after they first contact you. If you're like most businesses, your speed to lead is nowhere near as fast as it should be. Forbes cites the average lead response time as 47 hours. That's nearly two days for your competitors to plant the seeds for a strong client relationship or for your leads to become less excited or change their mind altogether.
No matter how solid the content of your lead responses is, there's no way to make up for lost time.
What’s more, Forbes also reports that just 27% of leads get contacted at all. However, with increased lead response time, you can reach more leads when they’re better positioned to engage.
In this blog post, we'll explain why response times are such an important part of the sales process. Then, we'll offer five tips to help you improve your speed to lead.
What's an Ideal Lead Response Time?
The optimal lead response time for following up on phone calls is five minutes or less. According to a lead response management study by InsideSales.com (now XANT), the likelihood of reaching shoppers within those five minutes is 10 times higher than if you were to let 10 minutes elapse.
A study from the Harvard Business Review also notes that businesses that respond within an hour are almost seven times more likely to have meaningful conversations with decision-makers. Any later and you may miss your chance to effectively sell to the right people.
However, the Harvard Business Review study noted that only 37% of businesses responded in the hour. Ricochet 360 also says the average response time for web leads is 17 hours. Since the average brand doesn’t respond within the first hour (or even the first day), it's clear that most sales teams are leaving lots of business opportunities behind.
If following up via email — a channel with lower conversion rates than phone calls, according to the study — speed to lead must be even faster. When leads sign up for a newsletter, for example, 74% of subscribers expect an automatic welcome email.
As high-speed internet continues to influence our way of life, clients may expect brands to move closer to instant responses across all channels.
9 Stats on the Importance of Lead Response Times
Need more reason to aim for the five-minute time frame? Here are nine stats that prove why the timing of your first response matters:
1. Fast Responders Win up to 50% of Sales
Slow and steady doesn't win the race when it comes to lead responses. The first vendors to respond to leads win 35-50% of sales. According to Vendasta and Ricochet360, this number may exceed 78%. That initial interaction sets potential clients' expectations. So, if you aren’t the brand setting the stage, you need to beat those expectations.
Missing that ideal five-minute mark by a minute could cause you to lose a high-paying client. And if you don’t respond at all, Website Builder states that 30% of shoppers will go straight to a competitor.
2. Calling After 30 Minutes Is 21 Times Less Effective
Your leads aren’t spending half an hour waiting for your call. According to LeadSimple, calls received within five minutes are more likely to lead to real conversations. However, letting 30 minutes or more elapse can sink your chances at selling. Even calling after five minutes means leads are 10% less likely to respond.
3. A 1-Minute Response Time Can Lead to 391% More Conversions
Want a surefire way to get the best results? Shoot for a one-minute lead response time instead of five. A Velocify survey reports that responding within one minute can improve lead conversions by 391%. Responding just one minute later (for a two-minute response time) offers less than half as much improvement at 160%.
Each minute that passes is like a ticking time bomb that rapidly stunts your conversion growth.
4. 82% of Consumers Expect Responses Within 10 Minutes
Shoppers don't want to wait if they don't have to. Thanks to the fast-paced digital world, most shoppers say response times of 10 minutes or less are important — especially when it comes to sales. Consumers are even less patient for sales support than for customer service, so keeping your speed to lead low is crucial.
5. Less Than 25% of Businesses Respond to Web Leads Via Phone
Despite the power of calling leads, OpenView reports that the majority of businesses aren’t reaching out to their web leads via phone call. With many companies taking the easy way out, often with automated emails, giving leads a call can help you stand out.
6. Thursday Is the Best Day to Respond
Lead response times are the most important factor for converting leads, but the day of the week you respond can make a difference, too. A Lead Response Management study found that calls made on Thursdays led to higher rates of lead qualification, with Wednesdays coming in at a close second and Fridays being the worst.
While you don’t want to hold out on a response, you may want to schedule your lead acquisition ads for the middle of the week, so your day-of responses get the best results.
7. Timing Your Emails Right Can Increase Conversions by 49%
If it hasn’t become wildly clear already, timing is everything. According to a Velocify stat referenced by Xoombi, timing your calls to a lead can significantly increase conversions. What’s more, timing your emails properly can increase conversions by 53%.
8. 71% of Clients Have Made Purchases Based on Experience Quality
When shoppers are choosing between brands, customer experience is a major factor in their decision. Your lead response time gives potential clients the first impression of your brand experience. If you're not readily available for support now, they may not trust that you'll offer the help they need later on.
9. With Slow Response Times, Businesses Can See a 15% Churn Increase
Not responding to leads in a timely manner can increase your customer churn rate, which means fewer people will progress through your sales funnel. That’s business lost.
5 Tips to Improve Your Speed to Lead
To help you improve your speed to lead, we've compiled five lead response optimization tips to help you impress your potential clients.
1. Use Sales CRMs to Manage Inbound Leads
Sales customer relationship management systems (sales CRMs) are helpful sales tools that document your interactions with leads. Platforms like Salesforce and Freshworks CRM can directly support your speed to lead by:
- Notifying you when a new contact is created
- Showing you who still needs a first response
- Scoring leads, so you can prioritize your lead responses when faced with a high volume of new leads
2. Invest in Automation Tools
Though you can't automate a sales call, you can send an automated email or text to show your leads you got their message. Once you get your lead's contact information, you can shoot a message that lets your lead know what to expect next, whether that's a phone call within a number of minutes or a series of emails (which can be a fully automated drip campaign).
Chatbots can be helpful, too. Chatbots can answer basic questions on your behalf for instant response times. And if further help is needed, they can collect contact information and help with lead qualification by asking potential clients key questions.
3. Offer Live Sales Support
The best wait times are no wait times at all. And if you can respond to leads in a matter of seconds with a live sales rep ready to chat, you can win over your leads for good.
Clients may be happy to complete a web form if they prefer a scheduled appointment or aren't in a time crunch. But often, your website visitors want real-time, live support. You can offer this in a few ways:
- Make your phone number readily available on your site
- Set up a standard, text-based live chat pop-up
- Offer live video chat on-demand
Of these options, live video chat can provide the best customer experience possible. Chatting with customers face-to-face makes your brand more human, which can help you improve your lead conversion rates. When you add ServiceBell to your site, clients can request live video calls just by tapping on a bell from any webpage, instead of waiting a day or more for a consultation or demo request to be fulfilled.
4. Use Analytics to Schedule Your Sales Reps
One of the trickiest parts of responding to leads fast is ensuring you have the staff to do so. Analyzing your lead generation data will help you identify the best days and times to keep more salespeople on hand. For example, if you notice that most web leads come in on Tuesday afternoons, you can bolster your sales support during that time.
Hiring sales representatives specifically to improve your lead response can further help. Instead of spreading your team members thin, you can put some of your staff in charge of first responses. Specialized sales reps can make a great first impression and respond fast, offering strong customer experience from the start.
5. Track Speed to Lead Regularly
To improve your lead responses, you need to know where you're at. Take a look at your response times at least weekly to make sure they're up to par with your ideal speed to lead. Then, at least monthly, analyze how your response times are affecting your business metrics. For example, your conversion rates may increase as your response times decrease.
Tracking response times for individual sales reps can also help you improve your speed to lead. This can show you who may need further training or more support.
Reduce Your Lead Response Times
The brands who respond to leads the fastest are the ones who are most likely to win the sale. To improve speed to lead, consider investing in tools like CRMs, chatbots, and live sales support software. Tracking your lead generation data and response times will also help you consistently lower your speed to lead.
Most consumers now gravitate toward fast responders, so improving your response times is key to making your sales efforts successful. With a live video chat tool on your website, you can impress potential clients by reducing your lead response times to seconds. Sign up for a free ServiceBell plan to try it out.