Here’s a quick multiple-choice question for you…
Imagine you’re an eager sales rep looking to make a good impression and hit your sales quota. Someone from your marketing department hands you a hot lead. What do you do?
A) Respond to the lead within an hour
B) Respond within one to 24 hours
C) Let more than 24 hours pass before responding
D) Scratch your behind, take a long lunch and never respond to the lead
Well, no brainer, you’ve selected, “A) Respond to the lead within an hour.” Right?
Well guess what? You’re in the minority.
According to a study of 2,241 U.S. companies, only 37% of companies achieve a lead response time of one hour or less. Sixteen percent of companies take one to 24 hours to respond, while 24% admitted to taking more than 24 hours.
But the most shocking statistic of all? A full 23% of surveyed companies never respond at all to their leads.
Why your competition’s failure is your shining opportunity
Just because your competition is slow to respond to leads doesn’t mean you should be too. In fact, if anything, you should be constantly looking for ways to respond even faster to leads.
And just how much difference to your sales success does one hour make when responding to hot leads?
According to the Lead Response Management Study, sales reps that attempted to contact prospects within sixty minutes of receiving an inquiry were almost seven times as likely to qualify that lead as sales reps that attempted contact even an hour later. The study defined qualifying a lead as having a significant conversation with a major decision maker.
Remember, your leads aren’t just requesting information and quotes from you. With your leads talking to multiple vendors at once, the one who responds fastest is the one who gets the sale. In fact, 35-50% of sales are won by the vendor that responds first. The early bird really does get the worm.
Preventing hot leads from growing cold
As you can see, the challenge is that a good lead can become a bad lead in a very short amount of time. One reason for this lies in the change that the Internet has brought about in your prospect’s buying habits.
By the time a prospect gets around to sending you an online request for more information, they probably already know a lot about your company, your products, and your competitors. They’ve probably already spent hours online doing research, scouring websites and reading reviews. They are already nearly 60% through the sales process before they’ve even contacted your company’s sales team.
At this point, you not only have a more knowledgeable buyer, you also have one who is close to making a buying decision and wants quick action. The sales rep that can attend to this buyer the fastest increases the chance of beating the competition and closing the sale.
Obviously, speed in responding to your leads is crucial for sales success. But, it’s equally important to maintain this momentum throughout the sales cycle, not just at the beginning.
CPQ solutions (Configure-Price-Quote) are helping many companies keep their sales momentum going by enabling reps to create proposals quickly and accurately. Studies show that sales reps using CPQ technology generated 20.9 quotes, proposals or RFP responses per month. Reps without CPQ managed only 14 quotes per month.
The technology also reduces order and pricing inaccuracies. This means your sales reps will spend less time fixing errors and (hopefully) more time on developing positive, long-term relationships with clients.
Of course, your ultimate goal as a sales manager is to do everything you can to develop these golden, long-term relationships where customers return to your company again and again for additional products or services.
But these long-term relationships might never happen if your sales team fails at making a good first impression, which is exactly what occurs when they are slow to respond to potential customers. By enabling your reps to respond quickly to prospects and customers, you’ll be laying the groundwork for higher conversion rates and more profitability.