How Does Lead Response Time Impact Sales?


Posted: June 8, 2011 | Sales, Sales Marketing Alignment

Allowing time to elapse before sales responds to leads is unfortunately all too common – not to mention costly. A survey conducted by Prof. James B. Oldroyd at MIT, in conjunction with, showed that waiting even an hour to contact and qualify sales leads can drastically reduce your chances of success.

On the other hand, the odds of making contact increased 100 fold if the lead was called within five minutes, versus 30. In addition, the chances of qualifying a lead were 21 times better if the lead was called within 5 minutes.

It’s alarming to think about the sheer number of sales leads – and, ultimately, sales – that are lost due to less-than-timely follow-up.

A second survey, conducted by in conjunction with Omniture, set out to examine and track the lead response and lead nurturing strategies of 700 companies. For each company, a request for information form was completed to begin the tracking process.

The survey’s results were truly eye-opening. Here are its key findings:

  • Only 4.6 percent of the businesses used a strategy involving both phone and email
  • Less than 5 percent called within 24 hours
  • 19 hours, 31 minutes was the average sales response time by email
  • 36 hours, 57 minutes was the average sales response time by phone
  • 45.2% of companies sales teams never responded at all

If nothing else, this survey clearly indicates that one of the most effective ways to increase lead quality is to significantly decrease sales response time.

If you are as convinced as we are of the impact a timely follow-up can have, consider trying these tactics to increase your sales success:

  1. Align Sales with Marketing
  2. Without proper marketing and sales alignment, it’s easy for leads to fall through the cracks. By establishing processes for how/when leads are transferred to sales, each team focuses on what they do best.

  3. Determine what constitutes a qualified lead
  4. Work with the marketing team to identify what is a qualified lead based on demographics and behavior. When marketing only sends over qualified leads (and nurtures the rest), sales teams are enabled to focus on the highest priority leads, loosening up bandwidth to connect with new leads more quickly.

  5. Commit to shortened response times
  6. Establish current benchmarks for how quickly your sales team is following up on leads. From there set goals to shorten this timeframe. The closer sales can get to the 5 minute mark, the more likely they are to qualify and eventually convert a lead to sale.

Sales lead effectiveness solutions can facilitate shortened response times by allowing you to visually see which opportunities are the highest quality and most urgent, monitor lead behavior and key activities that indicate buying interest, and update yourself in real-time via email or mobile devices.

For more ways to improve your sales processes and lead follow-up techniques, download Marketo’s free Sales 2.0 Cheat Sheet.

Related Resources

  • @nanceEss

    Thanks for the tips and stats–very handy. You can also generate more leads by adding conversion tools to your website such as click to call and live chat. This way you don’t have to worry about response time because you will service your customers right away (for most cases)

  • Brad Hess

    Wow, great post… Coming from a sales world, I can attest to the value of quick follow up, and better yet a system in place to help with that follow up.

  • Louie

    Great post.  I keep my sales people away from long demos when it is their lead day (we have a lead rotation for incoming leads), so they can respond by calling and email, right away.

  • Pingback: Make the First and Best Impression — Lead Response Time Matters | The Sound of Your Success

  • Pingback: Make the First and the Best Impression — Lead Response Time Matters | The Sound of Your Success

  • Christine Steffensen

    Late of response to the prospective client which means of inactiveness. It is a decrease of opportunity unto the business part to expand. Monitoring is the common and simple way to prevent this complications particularly in the time of responding. Sales team are capable of doing it by means of concentration.

How Does Lead Response Time Impact Sales?

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