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A Complete Guide to Lead Response

Image of Pam Georgiana
Pam Georgiana

Businesses in the US spent $4.6B on generating leads in 2021; it’s a top priority for marketing and sales leaders. This begs the question: if these leads are so valuable, why does it take the average company 47 hours to respond to a lead - if they respond at all? The truth is that lead response matters. And lead response is most effective when it's fast.

Most companies don't effectively respond to leads. And in this context, he data is clear: responding faster results in more sales. 

Leads have a short shelf-life,  you have a very short period of time to respond before shoppers move on.  Good sales teams work hard to close that gap between an inquiry and first touch, taking advantage of  best practices on the most acceptable length of time and the best channels to use as KPIs. The smartest teams are leveraging rapid lead response software to help them. With the right tools, clear KPIs, and a streamlined process, your sales team can win the speed to lead battle over your competitors every day.  

In this article, you’ll learn:

  • What is Lead Response?
  • What is Rapid Lead Response (or Speed to Lead)?
  • How Quickly Should You Respond to Leads?
  • What are the Benefits of Rapid Lead Response?
  • How Does Rapid Lead Response Work?
  • How Do You Reduce Lead Response Time?
  • How Do “Speed to Lead” Tools Help?
  • What to Look for In A Rapid Lead Response Software.
  • Who Should Use a Rapid Lead Response Strategy
  • How Calldrip Supports Rapid Lead Response.
  • Additional Resources about Rapid Lead Response

If your company is spending valuable resources on marketing and lead generation, then rapid lead response matters.

Let’s learn more about what rapid lead response is, the software solutions to help you master the strategy and best practices, and how to get started.

What is Lead Response?

Lead response is how a business reacts to inquiries or expressions of interest from potential customers. It encompasses all aspects of handling a lead, including the methods of communication used, the content of the response, the personnel involved, and the overall customer service experience provided.

What is Rapid Lead Response or Speed to Lead?

What is speed to lead, also known rapid lead response? Rapid lead response is the practice of contacting leads as quickly as possible after they’re generated, or the inquiry is received. 

Speed to lead does not prioritize any communication method over another. Generally, it is best to connect with a customer using their preferred channel. It could be via phone, webchat, email, SMS text, social media, or a combination of channels. The crucial element is the time it takes to make that first connection. 

How Quickly Should You Respond to Leads?

A landmark 2011 study found that companies that respond to leads within 5 minutes are 100x more likely to win the sale than those that respond within 30 minutes. Recent research supports this data. In 2021, a study showed that conversion rates rise more than 8 times if you respond to a lead within 5 minutes. But even that may be too slow. Another study reported that conversions are 391% higher if a sales person responds within a minute. Waiting an additional minute decreases it to 120%. Yet only 0.1% of inbound leads are actually contacted within 5 minutes. Time is definitely money in B2B sales.

This means that the vast amount of money spent on attracting and converting leads is (most likely) wasted due to a slow lead response time. 

We recommend that you respond to all leads within one minute, with a 5 minute response time being your outside threshold and signal that your approach needs to change.

Enter rapid lead response, a marketing and sales strategy that ensures you’re connecting with leads at the peak moment of interest - and before competitors. Still not convinced? Learn more about the benefits next.

3 Benefits of Rapid Lead Response

There are three main benefits of rapid lead response:

  1. Rapid lead response can help you close more deals.
  2. Your prospects and customers will feel they’re being respected and taken care of.
  3. Fewer marketing and advertising dollars are wasted. 

By now, you’ve already learned a few data points that speak to points one and three. But what about your prospects and customers? Is rapid lead response really better for them, too?

The answer to that is “yes.” Research consistently shows that prospects and customers value helpful, responsive communication when making a buying decision.

In addition to the stats we already shared regarding customers expecting a quick response, it’s also important to know that around 780% of their appointments go to the company that contacts a prospect first.

Research also shows that when customers don’t feel valued, they don’t buy. One study suggested that almost 70% of sales are lost because the buyer believed the salesperson to be apathetic - not because mistakes were made.

Additional benefits of rapid lead response include:

  • Closing new deals more quickly.
  • Outperforming your competition.
  • Building an aligned and high-performance sales team.
  • Understanding what prospects want.
  • Knowing which lead sources deliver the best leads.

We’ve worked to help sales leaders implement rapid lead response strategies for almost a decade. In that time, we’ve found that rapid lead response gives sales leaders clarity and visibility into their sales team’s performance from lead creation to close. You’ll feel more confident and more in control of your sales and finally be able to fine-tune performance.

How Does Lead Response Work?

Here are the elements your lead response strategy needs to make it work:

  • A clearly defined process for capturing and delegating leads.
  • The tools to connect and communicate with leads.
  • A way to track relevant speed to lead KPIs, like time to respond.
  • Methods to nurture leads over time.
  • Accountability, coaching, and compensation that reflect the importance of lead response, especially fast lead response.

There are software solutions available to assist your sales team in responding to leads as quickly and efficiently as possible by digitally connecting a lead inquiry to your sales team, in the manner that makes sense for both your customer and your sales team. The actual rapid lead response system you implement should be customized to your business needs to receive the best results.

If you need more structure and alignment, an automated rapid lead response tool might be right for you. These software solutions are purpose-built to get you connected to your prospects in seconds.

We’ll share more practical guidance on building your strategy, and how to use a rapid lead response software solution next.

How Do You Reduce Lead Response Time?

Start with developing your response time goal and a strategy to achieve it. Your response time should be within 5 minutes, sooner if possible. 

Again, every rapid lead response strategy needs to include a way to field leads, the tools to communicate with leads, a way to track your time to respond and other KPIs, and tools for improving performance over time. 

Your approach to building this strategy can be simple; for example, you might use your CRM to set up automated email alerts to sales when new leads come through, and a sales compensation approach that rewards speed. However, if your sales reps have lots of responsibilities or your team is large, this may not be adequate.

Determine a clear connection process that sets your team up for sales success. The best response is always an immediate, personal one, using the channel(s) the customer prefers. Depending on your prospects, they may prefer a call, a text message, or both. The best response is always an immediate, personal one, using the channel(s) the customer prefers.

Generally speaking, the Calldrip team recommends a phone call, especially in high-information or business-to-business sales. More than 65% of buyers report that discussing their situation with salespeople is valuable.  We call this Conversational Sales. In a PwC study, 48% of American consumers said that friendly, welcoming service was the most important aspect of a successful customer service experience. Customers are 

 Customers are hungering for a real, friendly person to interact with, especially when making a complex buying decision.

Even with this conversational approach, you can reduce your response time by developing a clear system that your sales team uses to respond to leads quickly. 

Depending on your sales environment, a rapid lead response software may help your salespeople achieve your goals. You’ll learn more about that kind of software, and how it can help, next.

To learn 7 more steps to improve your lead response, download our white paper.

What To Look For In a Lead Response Software

When shopping for a rapid lead response software system, the important features to consider are:

  • Does the rapid lead response software integrate with your CRM and other marketing and sales systems?
  • Is it customizable to your team’s sales process?
  • Is it easy to use? Does it provide transparency to your team, as needed?
  • Does it support process and performance improvement?
  • Does it support contacting leads via multiple communication channels (such as phone, text, email, webchat)?

The best solution will be one that is consistently used by your entire team, because this helps ensure that no lead is missed and everyone can achieve their full potential.

For some businesses, a rapid lead response software is an optimal solution. Discover if rapid lead response software might be right for you next.

Who Should Use Lead Response Software?

Certain companies may benefit more from rapid lead response than others. 

Rapid lead response is a high-impact sales strategy for any company where the sale involves a human touch. If phone calls, demos, consultations, explainers, or sales conversations are important to your business, rapid lead response is right for you. On the other hand, it’s not a great fit for companies like Spotify, where a salesperson never actually has a conversation with new prospects.

It’s also incredibly valuable for high-dollar, high-information sales. After all, people buy from people!

Individuals working in highly competitive sales environments, like automotive sales or home services, also typically benefit from rapid lead response. This is because it allows you to be first to connect with prospects, which gives you an edge.

Finally, if your team currently takes longer than 5 minutes to respond to leads, a speed to lead strategy can help.

Worried that rapid lead response just isn’t possible? Rest assured, organizations like yours are exactly the ones who typically benefit most from rapid lead response software. 

The right partner can help you develop the systems, implement the tools, and define the goals to set your team up for success. Contact us today for pricing information, and you’ll see how Calldrip can be an affordable investment in your business.

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