Ottemo Blog

Response Time = Sales

by Gavin Smith

In a business era where you're expected to do more and more with less, what would you do if you found out you were throwing away marketing dollars? Good marketing departments spend a lot of time working to improve conversion rates by minute amounts, but when sales team members don't follow-up quickly enough, that work can be practically worthless. Consider some of these stats from the B2B community:

  • The average time to contact a prospect is 42 hours.
  • Approximately one-quarter of business leads wait longer than a day for a response.
  • 23 percent of companies never respond to their leads at all.

Do You Know Where Your Leads Are Going?

Every time your sales team takes longer than an hour to contact a lead, you dramatically reduce your possibility of closing the sale. Did you know that your leads are twice as likely to continue the buying journey if you contact them within five minutes of their first inquiry? Even knowing that faster turnaround leads to more sales, most business verticals fail to deliver. Average response times can range from around 16 minutes for telecommunications companies to more than two days.

Some leads never even get a phone call or direct personal contact. When that happens, a lead that cost money to generate just gets wasted. Just remember that an automated call or email is not an actual contact. You can't start relationship development or answer questions using automated systems.

When to Call Your Prospects, the Second Time

For good sales development, you really want to talk to prospects directly, and you can. You can even do it quickly and at the best times. A recent study by Dr. James Oldroyd in partnership with InsideSales.com broke down response time data and outcomes into five-minute increments. What they found out can help guide you on when and how to respond to online leads.

  • The best days to contact a prospect are Wednesdays and Thursdays.
  • The best times to call are between 4 and 6 p.m.

If you're going to try to make contact within five minutes, why do you need to know the best days and times to call? Because your first call should never be your last attempt to make contact with a lead; knowing when to follow-up is just as important as making that fast turnaround.

Persistence Pays Off

You make that first contact quickly so you can talk with the prospect while everything is fresh in their minds. You may or may not get a commitment from that first call, but you open the lines of communication and give yourself an opportunity to schedule a second call.
In addition to a slow response time to online leads, many companies are also not terribly persistent with contact attempts. A single call is not enough to close a sale. Whether you are trying to sell a house or a customer list for a new business service, you still need to talk to prospects quickly and repeatedly.

Technology Changes Customer Behavior and Expectations

Faster communication has created an expectation from customers that businesses will respond as quickly as possible to an inquiry. When one company doesn't respond, prospects contact a different supplier. New technology stacks that integrate with CRM software have been developed that are solely designed to help businesses reduce their time between an inquiry and a response. If you can implement these, you might see conversion rates jump by as much as 100 percent just by changing your contact strategy.

Gavin Smith