How Quickly Are Your Reps Responding to Leads?

BY Kathy Crosett
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Qualified leads are hard to come by. How quickly are your reps responding to leads? Now that the pandemic has changed the speed of the business cycle, your team can’t afford to wait too long to contact leads that come in through your digital marketing channels.

Rising Importance of Digital Outreach

Your organization invests time and money creating content that ranges from white papers to webinars in order to generate leads. And the pandemic has played a role in removing the in-​person contact that was previously key to moving leads through the purchase funnel. While we may gradually shift back to some level of in-​person selling, the experts predict that within two years, “e‑commerce sales are expected to account for as much as 17% of all B2B sales by 2023.”  

These stats show that qualifying and nurturing leads through digital outreach will be the best route to success for many sales organizations. If your group is still struggling to keep up with the changes that took place in 2020, it’s time to bring your reps up to speed. You can improve results by coaching them on how to excel in the digital marketplace. If you’ve asked your reps to take a sales skills assessment, review the digital communications scores. When qualifying a prospect, your reps shouldn’t turn them off by sending with an email message that contains grammatical errors. In addition, the initial response should be done quickly.

Responding to Leads

Research published in the Harvard Business Review shows that fast responders to online inquiries get more business. In their review of over 2,000 companies, the average response time was 42 hours.

Firms that tried to contact potential customers within an hour of receiving a query were nearly seven times as likely to qualify the lead (which we defined as having a meaningful conversation with a key decision maker) as those that tried to contact the customer even an hour later—and more than 60 times as likely as companies that waited 24 hours or longer.”

The Short Life of Online Sales Leads. Harvard Business Review.

Who can blame a prospect for moving on? We live in an age of instant gratification. Plenty of companies compete in today’s marketplace and they often have similar products. Your reps can’t afford to be slow to respond.

Many tech-​oriented prospects are staffed with digital natives who make the B2B buying decisions. While they may expect immediate responses to their inquiries, don’t expect them to make a fast purchase decision. A purchase with a price tag of under $10,000 is made by a committee of one to three people within a month of initiation consideration at 36% of SMBs. But when the price tag rises to between $10,000 and $50,000, you’re looking at a time frame of between two and six months for 34% of buyers. And up to six people will be involved in the decision-​making process at 29% of these businesses.

Pipeline Slowdown

If your sales team needs time to sort out who is going to handle which leads, you must nurture the prospect. Research shows that about 13% of leads eventually convert into opportunities but that process can take up to 90 days. And over the subsequent three-​week period, 6% of those opportunities close and provide revenue for your reps and your organization. As you plan for success in the new year, stop the pipeline slowdown in your sales organization. Responding to leads quickly should be a top priority for your reps in the digital sales cycle.