“I don’t care what response I get…but I follow up until I get one,” said Steli Efti, CEO and founder of Close.io
When buyers are ready, they’ll find you, right? So says marketing agency leader Pardot.
But the big question is not whether they’re going to reach out or even when. The question is simple: are you going to be ready when they do reach out?
Now take a moment to put yourself in a buyer’s shoes. Think about when you last did some personal research into something you really wanted to buy. When you were ready to purchase and walked yourself into the store and —
What happened? Were you approached right away? Did your interest wane the longer you were kept waiting? Did a store associate bother to engage you?
Even though you’re in-store, technically, you’re still a lead. And the longer you’re left unattended to and disengaged, the less likely you are to return.
On average, it takes companies 38.35 hours to respond to leads. In today’s omni-channel marketing cycle, that’s a lifetime. You may have the best product and service but if you can’t follow these key rules, your business is sure to miss out.
Not All Leads are Created Equal
The first key to improving your lead response time is to understand a very crucial fact: not all leads are the same.
This means, not all your leads are going to turn into qualified leads. And, even when they’re curious, it doesn’t mean they’re necessarily even “warm” — either “in the know” about your brand or ready to buy in the least.
Businesses that are slow to respond to a lead simply fail to be able to classify where the lead is on the buyer’s journey. Before they can even begin to follow up, leads must be qualified. And this requires on-demand access to the analytics that will be able to tell you where that lead is.
Qualifying leads is all about meeting a lead where it happens to be on the buyer’s journey. Classifying a lead is important in knowing which next steps to take, what content to provide, how to follow up and which scripts to use.
Failing to Meet Leads Where They’re At
Part of the lead qualification process is scoring the lead to see whether they must be further massaged and given multiple opportunities to engage with the brand or if they’re ready for the next segment of the buyer’s journey.
Obviously the greatest resource this calls for is time — it takes time to analyze where a lead is, once they’ve approached the brand in some way, and it takes time to then follow-up in a proven, tested and pre-determined manner.
Following up by calling a lead or presenting them with educational content is only half the battle. The other half is doing it at the right moment by understanding where they are.
A slow lead response time can result in an overflow of leads that haven’t yet been either qualified or engaged.
What’s the Plan, Stan?
Focus too much on automation alone, and you miss out on the sales aspect. But what’s the point to cultivating a qualified lead if there’s no funnel to guide your user through as they move on their journey?
Part of lead qualification is to set up a process for sales rep that can help guide leads to the next level of awareness.
In trying to improve a slow lead response time, automation of some form or another is the key to helping your customers reach the “aha!” moment and convert. Using Upcall and connecting it to apps like Zapier, for example, a sales rep could have a list of leads ready to be called and engaged with at the right time, without trying to figure out which leads to focus on.
Automating certain tasks through software like Upcall essentially allows you to take your limited attention and focus it on what you do best: following up and closing.
While you’re busy following up with another lead in person, there should be some form of automation that is delivering engagement, content, answering questions and providing guidance for the lead on this journey of brand awareness.
This is the point at which they can identify their issue, they see you as an educator and move to actually consider your products or services as the solution.
But if you fail to plan for fast lead follow-up and put the tech into place to respond in an automated way, then you miss capturing those leads for later follow-up in the first place.
Don’t Leave Anything On the Table
Here’s the number one reason a slow lead response time is killing your business: you operate in a market with a bevy of other competitors and comparable services, right?
If you fail to contact your lead within the first few hours (or minutes, depending on your industry), rest assured, your lead will end up somewhere else.
And it might be somewhere that has had the foresight to put the appropriate tools like Upcall, Zapier, CRM and funnels in place. Essentially, a workflow and a process for lead nurturing is required, at base, to capture lead’s interest and make the most of them.
So spend the the resources required now to benefit later by identifying the key places where leads are dropping off and addressing those parts using the right tools. Fail to do this and you’re literally leaving cash on the table.
On the flip side, this could also be a major opportunity for you to win. So position yourself with the right software to do exactly that.