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Only 22% of B2B companies are satisfied with their conversion rate. If you belong to the rest of 88%, you might be constantly thinking: “I was struggling so hard to optimize my lead nurturing strategy, but my leads still don’t convert well. Why does it happen?”

We understand. You made your offer truly appealing, you use the best lead generation techniques, and you create content that captures the hearts of your potential customers. But probably you’ve missed one important point: once you got chemistry, you need to keep working on that sparkle. Otherwise, you lose the fire.

To handle this issue, improve your lead response time. How exactly should you do this? Let us explain the importance of quick lead follow-up and share the best practices for lead response management with you.

What is Lead Response Time?

Lead response time is the time window between the lead’s first contact with the brand and the first company’s response to that attempt.

For example, you are about to order marketing automation counseling session. In this case, the first contact happens when you book your first discovery call, filling a contact form online. The amount of time you should wait until the sales rep gets in touch with you is lead response time.

Why Does Faster Lead Response Time Increase Conversions?

Before we move on to practical tips, let’s distract a bit and imagine it’s Sunday. You’re having a pleasant stroll exploring the part of your city you don’t know well enough. After several hours of walking, you got tired and hungry. It’s time to take a break, so you start looking around for the place to stay for dinner.

You find a cozy cafe you’ve never been to before, come in, and take a seat. You made that first contact and expect for the waiter to bring you the menu. You wait for 5 minutes, 20, 30… But there is no one to come over here. Disappointed, you get up and leave the cafe, promising yourself never return to that place.

Waiting for so long is quite a rare occasion in B2C. In B2B, however, it happens all the time. According to the statistics gathered by Harvard Business Review, the average lead response time is 42 hours. 42 hours! Could you even imagine yourself sitting in that cafe for 2 days still waiting for the waiter to show up? Not possible.

The bottom line is as follows. The more you linger with your response, the more leads grow cold and never come back, hurting your conversion rate a lot. That’s why you need to follow up with your leads when they are ready to discuss your business offer. It’s also important how exactly you respond and whether your follow-up is timely enough in terms of closing a deal.

4 Top Practices to Improve Your Sales Follow-up Process

If you feel that slow lead response time is one of the reasons behind your low conversion rates, here are some best practices for lead response management to improve your lead response time.

1. Answer as Soon as Possible

There is an unspoken rule in foodservice: waiters should take the order within 5 minutes, at least for beverages. Unsurprisingly, the same rule applies to any other business. You have 5 minutes to respond back after the lead reaches to you, or your chances to qualify them drastically decrease.

If we compare lead response time of 5 minutes vs. 10 minutes, the odds to establish contact with a lead decrease by 400% as time passes.

One more fact: 78% of customers end up buying from the company that responded to their inquiry first. In competitive industries, any delay means that you are no longer the first responder. Being late, you waste up to 71% of all leads.

So the absolutely first thing to do is to stop robbing yourself of hundreds or thousands of leads and start replying on time.

2. Align Sales & Marketing Teams

Marketers generate leads, sales reps close deals. Major tasks of sales and marketing are crystal clear, but they both fail to achieve their goals if they don’t cooperate well. According to Hubspot, misalignment between sales and marketing results in at least 10% of revenue loss.

Speaking of lead response time, the sales team seems to be the one responsible for improving it. But the truth is, sales reps can’t follow up with the leads they don’t have. The marketing team needs to hand off MQLs to the sales on time, but this is not always done properly.

To eliminate delays in moving leads down the funnel, try to put sales reps and marketers in a shared workspace, so they can communicate in person. If it’s not possible (teams reside in separate offices, sales reps work remotely, etc.), embrace the power of instant messaging with apps like Slack or Fleep.

3. Consider Best Times to Make a Contact

The infographic compiled by InsideSales reports: not all days and hours are equal. Some days in a week are better for establishing a strong contact with a lead, and some are worse.

Statistically, the best days for following up are Wednesday and Thursday. You have 49% more chances to close a deal on Thursday than on Tuesday. And if you call between 4 and 5 PM, your odds to win the prospect rise by amazing 164% compared to the call made between 1 and 2 PM.

4. Don’t Give Up Too Soon

Even if you are late and unable to sell from the first dial, don’t make another huge mistake. Don’t give up too soon, as 80% of sales require FIVE follow-up attempts.

Still, 44% of sales people give up after the FIRST time they didn’t get a positive response. Only 8% of them are persistent enough to follow up until they finally win the lead. And those 8% get 80% of sales we mentioned above.

This is How Marketing Automation Software Improves Lead Response Time

Another sure-fire way to enhance your lead response time is to utilize marketing automation tools. Your choice of proper software depends on the medium you usually use to get in touch with your leads.

In case you favor Facebook Messenger, it’s worth to set up automated responses. This plain tool sends pre-designed answers to frequently asked questions and is free of charge.

When the first contact is made with the website form, take advantage of LiveChat or design a custom chatbot for your business.

Using email, consider email marketing automation services. However, you may already have that option at your fingertips if you use one of the popular CRMs. It has in-built email marketing automation features that will help you to buy some time before your sales rep contacts the lead in person.

In all these cases, you decrease lead response time almost to seconds. Even though the lead may understand that your first response is generated by a program, they feel your concern and therefore will be more patient in waiting for the next follow-up.

Lead management software addresses the number of other issues as well. It helps to prioritize leads, track the progress of any deal, analyze your metrics, and seamlessly integrate all business processes within your company.

Don’t know how to set up your CRM and other tools to improve lead response time? Ask us and get unlimited support in marketing automation and beyond!