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Sales Models, Metrics, and Motions Blog

Lead Response Arms Race: Ready, Fire, Aim.

by Trish Bertuzzi on Thu, Oct 02, 2014

Lead response time is a hot topic lately.

speedCompanies have published research highlighting findings such as ‘calling inbound leads in under a minute delivers 3-4X conversion rates’ and ‘calling within 5 minutes vs. 30 minutes drops the odds of qualifying by 21X.’

I believe those studies are well done and their findings are true. But the question remains: for those of us with fairly complex B2B sales processes, do they matter

My hypothesis is that contact and conversion rates rarely equal quality of conversation (and ultimately revenue). I see two big problems in our rush to make contact.

Problem 1: A lead isn’t a lead isn’t a lead

At Hubspot’s recent Inbound conference, I asked an audience of roughly 300 attendees how they defined an inbound lead. Was it:

  1. Only those who filled out a ‘contact me’ form or requested a demo?
  2. Anyone that responded to any marketing campaign?

Resoundingly, the answer was the latter.

Of everyone who submits a form for your company, what percent is in your Ideal Customer Profile? Let’s say 50% (although Sales will tell you it is closer to 25%).

That means half the time your Reps are chasing leads that have a low probability of buying. A pulse and the ability to hit ‘submit’ are overriding your collective experience, your lead scoring, and your Reps’ brains. Ready. Fire. Aim.

Problem 2: It takes longer than 5 minutes to not sound like an idiot

Let’s not forget another downside. An immediate response means your Rep knows nothing about the prospect and how they can help them build a better business. The prospect hit submit, got queued, and the connection was made - no preparation or planning involved.

Don’t believe me? Do me a favor. The next time you download a white paper and your phone rings immediately, ask the Rep, “What do you know about me and my business?” If the answer is about the white paper, hang up. You’re being processed like a sausage and it’s unlikely the conversation will create value for you.

This is what it sounds like, when leads cry.

Garrett Hollander over at SalesStaff recently wrote about what it feels like to be the victim of lead speed.

The whole article is worth a read. Here’s a key excerpt:

Last week, I was researching a app on the AppExchange. I hit the “Get it Now” button and started going through the motions of installing the package in our environment.

No exaggeration… not even 20 seconds after I had hit the button, I get a call from one of the sales reps who works for this application’s parent company. He decided to lead with, “Hey Garrett, I see that you downloaded our application. How is it working for you?”

I replied, “Ummm… I haven’t even gotten to the page to install it yet.”

It felt weird. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m all for addressing inquiries quickly, but this was just strange.

Here’s my suggestion

If you own a lead qualification team, let a well thought-out strategy dictate your process, not a stopwatch.

There is a time and a place for speed-to-contact. There is next-to-no chance that it is appropriate for 100% of your leads. Focus on lead response time for a highly-targeted subset of your leads that want - and warrant - that kind of attention.

Your buyers don’t want you to be the fastest, but they do want you to be the smartest. Take a breath and give them what they want.

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(Photo credit: glynlowe)

Topics: inside sales strategy, technology

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