One of the most important requirements for maximizing results from your lead generation efforts is responding to new lead inquiries in a timely and appropriate fashion. Unfortunately, it’s clear that many companies still have work to do in order to satisfy this basic requirement.
Over the past decade, several research studies have examined the impact of lead response time on various aspects of lead generation success. One of the earliest was a 2007 study conducted by InsideSales.com and Dr. James Oldroyd. This research addressed several issues related to lead response methods and practices, but the most striking results pertained to the impact of responding quickly to lead inquiries. Here are two of the most significant findings:
- The odds of contacting a lead are 100 times greater when the initial contact attempt is made withing 5 minutes vs. 30 minutes after the inquiry is submitted.
- The odds of qualifying a lead are 21 times greater when the initial contact attempt is made within 5 minutes vs. 30 minutes after the inquiry is submitted.
These findings relate specifically to telephone contacts, and they clearly show that leads go cold quickly.
Since 2007, InsideSales.com has conducted several additional studies on this topic, the most recent of which is the Annual 2014 Lead Response Report. The 2014 study describes the lead response patterns of more than 9,500 companies that were successfully tested by InsideSales.com during 2013. Here are three of the most significant findings:
- 47% of the companies did not respond at all to the submitted inquiry.
- The median first call response time of all companies that responded to the inquiry by telephone was 3 hours and 8 minutes.
- Only 121 companies responded by telephone within the optimal 5-minute window.
Last year, Velocify published The Ultimate Guide to Inquiry Response. This study found that only 21% of web inquiries received a telephone response within 30 minutes after the inquiry was submitted. The Velocify research also found that calling a lead within one minute more than doubled conversion rates (compared to calling a lead 48 hours or more after the inquiry was submitted).
These studies clearly show that most companies need to significantly improve their lead response processes. It’s also important, however, to understand what this research is not saying. In all of these studies, the potential buyer submitted an inquiry that asked for someone to contact him or her, requested information or a demo, or otherwise signaled that he or she wanted to communicate with the company. Common sense, as well as the research, says that companies should respond to these types of inquiries as quickly as possible.
These studies did not address the situation in which someone views or downloads a content resource or attends a webinar. This type of “inquiry” does not necessarily signal that the individual is ready to have a conversation with the company, especially when the download or webinar is the individual’s first contact with the company. I have long argued that companies make a mistake when they respond too aggressively to these types of “inquiries,” and these research studies don’t contradict this important point.
I have to admit that is one of my major pet peeves. Because of my work, I download a lot of content resources, and I attend a lot of webinars. I often receive a telephone call even when my only contact with the company is one download or one webinar. And the call often comes before I’ve even had time to read the content resource.
When I accept one of these calls, what’s even more frustrating is that it’s clear that the caller has done nothing to learn about me, or what I do, or why I may have downloaded a resource or attended a webinar. In almost every case, if the caller had spent ten or fifteen minutes reviewing my LinkedIn profile, the articles I’ve published on LinkedIn, and the posts at this blog, we could have had a conversation that would have been much more valuable to the caller and his company.
The bottom line? When an inquiry signals that the individual is ready for a person-to-person conversation, then by all means, you should respond as quickly as possible. For other types of inquiries, immediate and aggressive person-to-person contacts may do more harm than good, especially if the caller hasn’t done his or her homework.
Illustration courtesy of Search Engine People Blog via Flickr CC.