A sales response within five minutes of obtaining an online sales lead can make or break a sale, but only five percent of companies actually respond within that time and many companies mis-estimate their own response times. Those are among the key takeaways from InsideSales.com's report on the speed of sales responses in the Internet age.
The report, the American Association of Inside Sales Professionals (AA-ISP) 2013 ResponseAudit from the Research Division of lead response platform provider InsideSales.com, is subtitled “Illusory Superiority.” The key findings indicate that companies are under-performing in sales responses, and need to “respond more quickly to Web leads, be more persistent in contacting leads, and call each lead more frequently.” Additionally, it found that companies’ perception of how they are doing in this area are “out of line with reality.”
Response Time, Persistency
The two main areas of focus in the report are response time and persistency, since these are the biggest factors in moving a lead through a sales funnel to become a customer. Lead response time indicates how long between the submission of an electronic lead and the first contact by a sales rep, and persistence in how many times a new lead is contacted before being abandoned. Considered contact methods were email and phone calls.
A previous InsideSales.com report, the five-year Lead Response Management Study, had found that minutes count in landing a sale. It said that “the odds of contacting a lead are 100 times greater when contacted within 5 minutes after the lead was submitted” than if the sales agent waits 30 minutes. The odds that the lead will begin moving through the sales process are 21 times greater if contact is made within 5 minutes, compared to 30.
Other studies have shown firms are spending more money on generating Internet leads -– an increase of 82% between 2005 and 2009 -- but their processes are not structured for fast responses. One report found that the average response time for companies that responded even within a month was 42 hours. Only 37% contacted the lead within an hour, and 24% took more than 24 hours.
1.3 Call Attempts
InsideSales.com found that, between 2008 and 2012, only 1.3 call attempts on average were made to contact a new lead before the sales rep gave up. Its recommendation is making 8 to 12 calls to “dramatically improve contact rates.”