Fast Lead Response Keeps B2B Leads from Going Stale

Last month, I spoke about lead metrics and ROI at the B2B Leads Conference in New York. Several smart speakers brought up the issue of why the time to respond to inbound leads is a key success metric. Most had case studies or industry data to support their claim that lead response time is a key B2B leads metric.

Likewise, I have lots of data to show the impact of fast versus slow lead response. Earlier in my career, I had a sales development team that was qualifying 4,000 inbound inquiries per quarter and generating over 380 sales-ready leads. My standard was that every inquiry was answered via telephone within 8 business hours or 24 calendar hours. Fortunately, the sales development group was able to accomplish this and consistently met their lead response metrics.

The following chart, courtesy of Jeff Hoogendam, co-founder of 360 Partners, illustrates the huge impact of following up inbound responses quickly, and the price you pay if you delay your follow up. Note the tremendous drop off of the contact rate and close rate you get when you delay your follow up calls to 30 minutes instead of calls within five minutes.

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 contact rate

If these statistics aren’t sobering enough, consider the following:

  • 51.4% of B2B leads are never called.
  • The average number phone calls made to new leads is 1.
  • The average number of emails sent to new leads is 0.9.
  • The average call response time for leads is 46 hours.
  • 85% of sales teams don’t track call response times.

Here’s the really bad news – if these lead response data points are similar to what you are doing, you are definitely losing business. But there is some really good news. First, the steps you take to contact and process your B2B leads in a more expedient manner will reap large rewards. Second, if your competitors fail to follow up their leads quickly and you are a lead response speed demon, you will gain serious competitive advantage.

I often talk about how improvements in singular lead metrics (conversion ratios) can have a large impact on bottom line results. If you can restructure your sales development process to achieve a much faster lead response time, you will find much greater value in your B2B leads.  For more about this subject, read my blog post titled Sales Lead Management: Are You a Victim of FTFU (Failure to Follow-Up).


Christopher Ryan
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