A Harvard Business Review identified that if an organization contacts a potential customer within an hour of receiving the first message, they will be nearly 7 times more likely to have a better discovery call than if they wait an extended period of time to engage with this lead. However, only 37% of companies will respond to their lead within the period of one hour. Organizations must shift their habit of viewing customers as a faceless commodity – static, waiting to be acted upon. Customers are individuals with expectations, deadlines, and they are interested in finding the fastest solution to their business problems.
Now take an eagle’s eye perspective of your own business. Is your sales team reaching out to leads within an hour of receiving queries? If not, can you state that your organization is doing everything possible to reduce this response time? If you answered ‘no’ to at least one of those questions, then now might be the right time to change. If your company focuses on reducing lead response time, chances are that your capacity to retain new business opportunities will greatly increase.
It is important to differentiate names from leads. Names can be acquired through any number of methods. They deliver volume but companies are unable to see if they will qualify or not. Therefore, it is important to have quality over quantity. Leads are potential clients who have begun their journey through your sales cycle by engaging with your company through different touch points like your website, newsletter, social media, and many others.
The internet has changed how people interact and communicate. Data heavy conversations and long-distance interactions can happen with a click of a button. This fast paced communication has simplified the way customers connect with companies. Still, customers would rather talk with an individual than a business.
A lead may enter your sales funnel at many points. With the available technology your messages and touch points are much more precise; as a consequence the number of non-qualified leads should be minimal. The traditional sales funnel mentality may tell you to do everything you can to identify less profitable customers first, before a sales person engages in a conversation. However, limiting contact with a live representative in the early stages of the conversion process may by itself become a self-fulfilling prophecy. However, if you are able to ensure that every qualified lead has the opportunity to have their needs and questions addressed you will greatly increase the likelihood of acquiring a new customer. There is a fine tuning that must be conducted in order to make the sales rep available but not inconveniently insistent.
At first it may seem like giving every lead access to a living representative is impossible. Most companies face resource constraints ranging from available workforce, time, and money. Successful companies have learned how to maximize the value from different technological tools to help them keep track of their pipeline of leads and offer them the right product at the right time. The following are a couple of tools that companies have found to be the most beneficial:
CRM tools enable the effective management of business relationships, as well as keep track of all relevant information. This data will likely be stored in the cloud, so it can be accessed at any time and from any place. Through CRM tools sales representatives can have access to information at the push of a button, so that every prospect can receive personalized service. Companies understand the importance of CRM, as 42% of adopters plan to increase investment in marketing automation.
A community cloud allows leads, customers, and employees to connect in order to streamline customer service. In essence, it makes it possible for individuals to get the responses they need from the right specialists and helps nurture the opportunity by creating conversations that add value.
Knowing as much as possible about a contact before engaging in a conversation is important. This can be at times challenging, but you should be able to develop a general idea of what the opportunity entails by knowing which web pages, blog posts, and any other interactions that the prospective customer had with your digital touch points.
An impersonal ‘thank you for contacting us’ is not going to impress any lead. However, an auto response is better than nothing. If you’re looking to use automated responses, be sure to keep them personal and specific. An automated response that outlines next steps for a customer will allow your organization to avoid missing its narrow window of response time.