If you had to list factors that impact your close rate, what would you choose? Most of us would suggest things like customer experience, your sales team, and how well-optimized your sales funnel is.
The speed of your lead response might not appear until some way down the list. But in fact, lead response time is an incredibly important factor when it comes to closing deals, making sales, and growing your business.
So how do you make sure your lead response time is as fast as possible, ensuring you seize every possible sales opportunity and propel your business forwards? In this article, we’ll give you some pointers on how to do that.
First, let’s take a deeper look at just how important lead response time is.
Why is lead response time important?
Today’s customers expect immediacy. “A little slower than expected” isn’t good enough. 82% of customers rate “immediate” responses as important or very important when they have a sales question. And in that same survey, 62% of customers defined “immediate” as 10 minutes or less when it came to sales.
The interesting thing about lead response times is how quickly they become “too slow”. Your chances of a successful lead response drop precipitously after the first few minutes and waiting much longer than that radically reduces your chances of making a sale.
Vendasta’s speed to lead statistics show that after 5 minutes, your odds of qualifying a lead have already decreased by 80%. Every second counts. Here’s why getting in early is so important:
- It helps you get ahead of the competition. Your customers are probably shopping around and looking at a few similar services. A fast response time allows you to make contact before anyone else does, before that customer slips through the net.
- A fast response time means you can contact more leads in less time. Of course, this needs to be combined with effective outreach and a well-built sales funnel, but if done right it can radically increase your sales volume.
- It’ll improve conversion rates, making your entire sales process more streamlined and effective and ensuring more efficient use of your budget
- It makes your brand look better. Responding to customers in good time will gain you a reputation for prioritizing customers and providing great experiences, which will quickly snowball into many more customers and sales.
- It helps you deliver conversational marketing. Customers today expect to enter a conversation with brands, and this is necessary to build a rapport with them and guide them through the buyers’ journey. Fast response times are essential if you want to create this conversational atmosphere.
How to improve your lead response time
How fast is “fast” when it comes to lead response? As mentioned above, it’s a case of rapidly diminishing returns. Responding within ten seconds is MUCH better than responding within 5 minutes. Responding within an hour is better than responding within a day, but by this point, you’ve already lost the vast majority of your leads.
You want to get your lead response times as close to “instant” as possible. Here are some ways to do that.
Chatbots are an incredibly effective way to boost your response time. Chatbots have been shown to speed up response times by an average of 4X, significantly improving your chances of connecting with leads before they disappear.
Chatbots don’t have set working hours, break times, or any other time constraints, which means, unlike human staff they can be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They can also handle vast numbers of leads at once, as opposed to just one at a time.
The best sales chatbots — like Whisbi’s — can qualify leads by asking questions, collecting data, and finding out what they need. They can then transfer qualified leads to sales agents ready to make a purchase.
Whisbi’s chatbot is perfectly designed for this because it’s built to guide customers through the sales process, asking the right questions and giving them everything they need to make a buying decision before transferring the user to a sales agent.
Pay attention to all your lead sources (and don’t forget them!)
One common mistake when it comes to lead response is forgetting about lead sources. For example, a lot of leads might be contacting you through that Twitter account you set up two years ago but never log into.
By failing to pay attention to all your potential lead sources, you risk letting response times tick over into the unacceptable range, or even miss out on leads altogether. Make sure you’re aware of all your lead sources and have processes in place to quickly respond to any contact.
This is another area where automation like chatbots can help by monitoring your various lead sources so your staff don’t have to.
Train your staff
Training your staff effectively is a powerful way to improve your lead response times and convert more prospects into customers.
Make sure your teams understand the importance of fast response times and show them how to monitor lead sources and respond quickly. More efficient work methods can also improve response times by ensuring your sales staff aren’t too tied up with other work to respond to leads.
Address simple queries quickly
A huge chunk of customer outreach is made up of simple queries that can be resolved very quickly without the need for a member of staff.
FAQs and customer support chatbots can handle most of these questions in seconds, which leaves your staff free to focus on real sales opportunities and give meaningful leads the attention they need.
Organize leads by recency
A common mistake by sales teams is contacting new leads first, instead of prioritizing the leads who made contact first. This is often the result of poor organization and software issues, but it results in older leads being relegated to the bottom of the queue and suffering from long response times.
By contacting your leads in order of when they reached out, you’ll minimize the waiting time for older leads while keeping responses to fresher leads within an acceptable time frame.
Lead response time is a crucial factor when it comes to delighting your customers and converting leads into paying customers. By optimizing your response times, you’ll ensure your business as a whole grows faster and more reliably.
The best way to do that is with technology. Whisbi’s suite of solutions is built to help you respond to your customers quickly and effectively, ensuring no potential sales fall through the cracks and maximizing your sales. This delivers benefits like:
- Better conversion rates
- More qualified leads
- Enterprise-level integrations