In converting leads to customers, speed counts

convert leads to sales

Are your sales reps as sold on your leads as you are?

In theory, it seems straight forward: You write engaging blog posts; you spread your unique as well as curated content via appropriate social media channels; you include calls to action; you watch your prospects take the bait; and, finally, you hand off a neat list of qualified leads to sales.

Sales, in turn, swiftly goes to work and the sale is a fact.

The reality is, as most of us know, far more muddled. You may be in the habit of dumping any lead, qualified or not, on sales. Sales, on the other hand, may be busy doing anything but tending to your leads. Hours go by. Hours turn into days. When sales finally do follow up, the lead has moved on.

Here is the bad news: Time kills even the most eager leads.

The 2014 Lead Response Report by InsideSales.com shows an undeniable connection between the time it takes to make contact with a prospect and the likelihood of converting that prospect into a customer. Since most companies will send out an automatic e-mail confirmation to anyone who has filled out an online form, the study looked specifically at the phone response rate, which it argues is a much more effective sales tool.

Consider a few of the findings:

  • Fifty percent of buyers choose the vendor that responds first.
  • The median first call response time was 3 hours and 18 minutes.
  • Only a fraction of companies reply within five minutes.

That last number is important because another InsideSales study on lead response management found the following:

“Making a successful contact with a lead are 100 times greater when a contact attempt occurs within 5 minutes, compared to 30 minutes after the lead was submitted. Similarly, the odds of the lead entering the sales process, or becoming qualified, are 21 times greater when contacted within 5 minutes versus 30 minutes after the lead was submitted.”

If you need further proof that response rate matters, an article in Forbes on inbound marketing sums it up perfectly:  “If your goal is to ‘pull your customer toward you’ in order to sell them something, then time is definitely of the essence.”

With these statistics in mind, it is more important than ever to ensure marketing and sales are aligned.  Too often poor lead-to-customer conversion can be blamed on a disconnection between the two departments.

Work in partnership to establish a common sales funnel. Spell out who is in charge of each step of the sales process. It doesn’t matter who makes that first call to your qualified lead, but it is important that you know someone will actually pick up the phone with a sense of urgency.

Bear in mind: All your leads need to grow cold is time.

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