Calculating Response Times For Sales Leads
Maths just isn’t the same in schools these days. I reminded my seven year old daughter of this when I asked her this question about calculating speed: “If I have two apples and three oranges, how fast am I going?” The look of confusion at the unfunny ‘Dad Joke’ on her little face was the same as mine when I saw the response expectations of customers and prospects in a recent Forrester report on customer response times.
We’re all looking for competitive advantage. As Michael Porter shows in his Value Chain from his 1995 book, “Competitive Advantage,” competitive advantage translates into profit margin.” One area of competitive advantage that I see being squeezed continually is customer response times. It seems that customers and prospects have increasingly high expectations for responsiveness to service and sales requests. We now live in a world that is always communicating, always online, always in touch. But do you know what your clients and prospects expect in terms of reaction times from you?
Sales Leads – Response Statistics
Thanks to this world where we are seemingly connected at all times on mobile devices, people are now being driven to seemingly unrealistic expectations of response. According to Forrester Research:
- 67% of people expect a same day response to a service response that they post on social media channels
- 47% expect a response in 2 hours
- 35% expect it in just 30 minutes?
But you’re company is a bricks and mortar company and not an online company? Well that doesn’t matter because offline expectations are being impacted by the increasingly efficient online experiences we are all enjoying as consumers. Add to that the fact that most people begin their purchasing process online, the chances are that the first time you hear from prospects will be online.
Auto-Response to Sales Leads
The easy way out of this is the auto-response email, right? We can get back to the customer in ‘nano seconds’ with a neat little email that says we’ll come back to them in 24/48/36 hours. Well I’m sorry to break the bad news to you. This is not the response your prospects are looking for. Whilst this is better than nothing, they want their questions answered. By a human.
The Impact on Your Business
In your business, what are your response times to sales leads? What’s the time delay between a customer registering interest, a lead being created and it being responded to by sales? Do you know these figures? In the traditional corporate sales world where marketing generate leads and throw them over the fence to sales, this well known area for potential failure is getting more problematic. If leads are delayed in any way, by hours or even minutes, that could mean that the prospect has disengaged or switched off. It could also mean that your competitors have got in there first and are influencing the prospect. The deal could be lost before it has begun.
Sales Leads – Take Away
What can you take away from this? You should set aside some time to look at your lead response times. How long does it take to transfer your leads between marketing and sales? Is there room for improvement? Can you transform the lead transfer process from days, to hours to minutes? If your sales people are in meetings all day, who is managing the expectations of the prospects in the mean time? If you’re not looking at how to improve your customer response times, your competitors almost certainly are. It is an easy way for your competitors to gain competitive advantage over you.
Article by Alistair McQuade