"The Navigator" News Blog

6 Reasons Why You Should Respond to Leads in Five Minutes

I hate wasted opportunities.  I bet you do too.  One of the biggest sources of wasted opportunities is slow response time to incoming leads.  I truly do not understand this – salespeople work their guts out to get new prospects, and yet when someone holds their hand up by calling, emailing, messaging, or filling out a contact form, salespeople let that lead sit there and get cold.  I’ve seen it as a coach and I’ve experienced it as a customer.

The only reason that I can fathom for this is that salespeople don’t want to appear “too anxious” to react.  It’s kind of like the old dating philosophy that “you should never call her (or him) the day after the date.”  Well, it’s dumb in dating and it’s dumb in sales.  Incoming leads are gold and they should be worked immediately.  How immediately?  Here are the numbers, according to a study by M.I.T.:

Five minutes is the ideal response time.  Yes, I said five minutes.  What that means is that a lead that is responded to with a personal phone call, not an email, within five minutes has the highest chance of being qualified, and further in turning into business.  In fact, a call placed within five minutes is four times as likely to be qualified as a call placed at ten minutes – and 21 times more successful than a call placed at 30 minutes.  If they don’t answer the phone, send a text – again, immediately.

WOW.  Why is that?  Because the moment when someone holds their hand up is the moment when they are hottest for you.  That should just make sense.  But seeing the numbers in this format is right in your face, isn’t it?  Let’s take it farther.  A lead that is responded to in the first 30 minutes is 17 times as likely to turn into business as one responded to within 24 hours.  In fact, over 20 hours, a lead response has the same percentages as an ice-cold call.

All of this should be intuitive, but let’s take a deeper dive into the psychology of why quick lead response is essential.

  1. First Impressions Matter:

The old saying “you never get a second chance to make a first impression” holds especially true in the realm of sales. When a prospect contacts you, their interest and enthusiasm are often at their peak. A swift response demonstrates that you are attentive, eager, and professional. It conveys your commitment to providing exceptional customer service and sets a positive tone for the entire sales process.  In other words, your prospect figures that if you’re that quick about responding to sell them, you’re likely to be that quick about responding to service them.

  1. Capture the Prospect’s Attention:

Leads are often fleeting. If you don’t engage with a potential customer promptly, there’s a high likelihood they’ll move on to a competitor who responds more quickly. Today, customers expect instant gratification, and a rapid response can help keep their attention focused on your solution.  And if you don’t respond quickly, they’ll move on to someone who will.

  1. Nurture Leads and Build Relationships:

Timely responses enable you to strike while the iron is hot. By addressing a prospect’s queries or concerns promptly, you’re more likely to keep the conversation going. The more you engage with a lead, the closer you come to building a relationship, which is the foundation of successful sales. It’s in these interactions that you can demonstrate your expertise and tailor your solutions to their specific needs.  When a prospect holds his or her hand up, they are signaling that they are Motivated and are beginning their Buying Journey.  Great salespeople understand and respect this – which is a relationship builder.

  1. Stay Ahead of the Competition:

In a competitive sales environment, quick responses can be a game-changer. Your competitors are just a click away, and they are ready to swoop in if you fart around. When you are the first to respond, you are the first to set the stage.  Even if they do talk to other vendors, you become the yardstick against which all other vendors are measured.

  1. Avoid Lead Coldness:

Leads, like food, have a shelf life; as noted above, that shelf life is less than 24 hours, and drops off very quickly after the first 5 minutes. The longer a lead sits unattended, the colder it becomes. Cold leads are harder to convert as the prospect’s interest wanes over time. With rapid responses, you can keep leads warm and maintain their engagement.

  1. Demonstrate Reliability:

A quick response time is a testament to your reliability as a business or sales professional. It reflects your commitment to customer needs and your ability to deliver on promises. In a world where trust is a valuable currency, demonstrating your reliability is crucial.  Again – quick in sales response means quick in service response.

The bottom line is this – leads are gold.  Customers today have so many options that, if they are holding their hands up and calling to you, you need to react and respond QUICKLY.  If you’re a sales manager, you should have some mechanism for rapid personal response – and remember, personal response means a phone call.  The typical “Thanks for contacting us, someone will be in touch” email is NOT enough.

Bonus info:  If you’re a sales manager, you know that hiring is getting tougher these days.  This technique works just as well in the hiring arena.  When you receive an application or resume’, you should do a quick triage, decide if you want to talk to them, and make a phone call within a few minutes if at all possible. We live in a world of instant gratification – and job applicants are no different. In my Hiring Assistance programs, I teach a four-question phone screening that can aid you in doing this.