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Get 'Em While They're Hot: Six Ways to Maximize Lead Conversion

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In this article, you'll learn...

  • The importance of timeliness in lead response
  • Six ways to boost lead conversion rates

In today's competitive business landscape, your company is undoubtedly spending significant dollars to generate leads. In fact, you're likely branching out to newer technologies and channels—such as mobile, text messaging, social media, and Web videos—to bring in more leads.

Though you're increasing your inbound leads, what happens once you get them? Do your lead-response efforts take advantage of your lead flow? Could your lead-conversion rates use a boost? Without successful conversion, leads are essentially useless.

Here are six steps that'll immediately increase your lead-conversion rates.

1. Focus on speed to lead

According to a Kellogg study, the odds of reaching a lead increases 100% if the lead is called within five minutes rather than 30 minutes. The study also found that the odds of qualifying and converting a lead increases 21 times if the lead is called within five minutes vs. 30. Calling leads immediately—before your competition—turns rapid response time into a competitive advantage.


2. Convert leads to conversations—then to sales

Don't get caught up measuring how many leads you're getting. The question is, How many are you talking to? Converting more leads starts with more conversations. Don't rely on email to initiate contact with a hot lead. Instantly calling incoming prospects means that you can spend more time closing sales—and less time pursuing cold leads.

3. Don't rely on CRM systems

Customer relationship management (CRM) systems can stand in the way of immediately reaching your leads by phone. A LeadQual study found that only 40% of leads receive a response via telephone within 24 hours. In the several hours or full business day it may take your CRM system to route incoming lead information to you, your competition may have already contacted and closed the sale.

4. Connect first using lead-response management services

The LeadQual study found that speed is the single largest driver of conversion and being the first business to contact a lead increases conversion 238%. Lead-response management services are designed to connect you with incoming leads by calling you immediately and giving you relevant information about the lead. Such services prompt you to be instantly connected with a prospect, offering the opportunity to begin a sales conversation. Clients of one lead-response management service have experienced lead-conversion-rate increases of up to 300% after using the service.

5. Be available—anywhere, anytime

Not there? No problem. As a busy marketer, you're often away from your desk. According to a Leads360 study, weekend and after-hour leads are extremely valuable, but they are often neglected. Similarly, a LeadQual report found that enormous opportunity exists for after-hour and weekend calling when many companies aren't staffed for rapid response. In the age of mobility, there's no excuse to miss an incoming lead. Lead-response management services enable marketers and sales reps to receive detailed lead information by phone—and to make immediate phone contact with the lead, regardless of the rep's location.

6. Be systematically persistent

You already know that persistence is key to sales success. But consistently following up with leads is easier said than done. A Leads360 report found that 35% of leads are reached on the first call and up to 72% are reached with the second call—but 48% of leads never get a second call. Accordingly, some lead-response management services offer systematic reattempt capabilities that automatically call reps with lead information, offering one-touch connection with leads for instant phone conversations on the second and subsequent attempts. As a result, no lead goes to waste, and more connections are made.

* * *

You're competing hard to generate new inquiries and prospects, but that's not where the battle ends. You are, in essence, wasting marketing dollars if you don't apply the same amount of effort to lead response and conversion that you do to lead generation.

Make the most of your hard-fought incoming leads by putting in place systems that'll immediately connect you with leads by phone, help you close more sales, and ultimately, maximize your lead conversion rates.


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Sammy James is the CEO of Speak2Leads. He can be reached via sjames@speak2leads.com.

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Comments

  • by Ashley Tue Jul 26, 2011 via web

    Would anyone have a good referral for a lead response management service to use?

  • by Justin Tue Jul 26, 2011 via web

    Thanks for the article. My concern is that a call from someone 5 minutes after a request of some sort seems not only creepy but also a bit like as a sales person I am just sitting here waiting for a lead. BTW, I may be, but have always felt that was too soon.

    I would really apprecaite any responses you and your readers have.

    :)

  • by Avi Fischer Tue Jul 26, 2011 via web

    Full disclosure: I work for Leads360.

    Sammy, thanks for citing our research! We should have some more cool stuff coming out at Leadscon New York in August.

    Ashley, are you B2B or B2C? If you are in B2C I highly recommend giving Leads360 a look. We are the industry leader and not significantly more expensive than the competition. If you are B2B there are a lot of options depending on your needs, but I'd be happy to consult with you.... drop me a line at afischer (AT) leads360.com.

    Justin, I can understand your concerns that fast response may be unnerving but what we've found is that consumers expect prompt service or they will just go on to a competitor. In the internet age, people want immediate information--responding to leads quickly provides the best buying experience.

  • by Gary Gebenlian Tue Jul 26, 2011 via web

    Thanks for the article, Sammy. Great point on speed-to-lead..An analogy we use is the shoe-store: contacting a lead too long after they show initial interest is like calling a customer who visited your shoe store yesterday and offering them the shoe to try on today...it's too late, they've likely moved on.

    Similarly, lead nurturing is so important. A recent NSA study showed that only 2% of sales are made on first contact (vs. 80% of sales made on the 5th-12th contact..)

    On the CRM front, it's really helpful to use a sales management solution that's simple and light-weight, so that it actually helps the selling vs. get in the way, as you point out in #2. This is something we really appreciate and consider when we designed PipeJump, our simple sales management and CRM solution (Full Disclosure: I work for Future Simple - designers of PipeJump)

  • by Josue Wed Jul 27, 2011 via web

    I agree about being available in the evening and weekends. Some of my hottest leads have come from these time segments. Be available and with smartphone capabilities you can have a mobile office.

  • by Daniel | Propaganda House Wed Jul 27, 2011 via web

    Nice post Sammy - I've always worked on following up leads ASAP, and while I know it seems to work well for me, and clients seemed to appreciate it; I'd never seen solid data supporting it. Very encouraging.

    Cheers
    Dan

  • by Kenny Wed Jul 27, 2011 via iphone app

    Justin-I'm in real estate and we've seen the 5 minute response time study and we follow it. It pays off because it impresses people by the level of service and value they receive from you right off the bat and you're getting in touch with them when your product or service is top of mind for them which increases your chance of conversion.

  • by JohnH Thu Jul 28, 2011 via web

    @Justin, I've been telling salespeople to call within the first 10 minutes for a few years now. Like you, many thought that made them seem desparate and a few said that some people made comments on how fast they were (not bad comments, just "Wow, that was fast").

    I explained that it's better to look desparate than to never get hold of the prospect or reach them when they're cold again. I also tell them that if someone makes a comment about it to say, "Thanks! Part of our customer service policy is to try to respond to inquiries within 10 minutes."

    Now you've changed "creepy" into your first example of good customer service.

  • by Avi Fischer Thu Jul 28, 2011 via web

    John,

    That's exactly the right way to coach your team... I'd be curious if you asked them to be even more responsive and set the bar at 5 minutes or less.

    You might want to check out this study we did if your team needs convincing: http://www.leads360.com/download/whitepapers/leads360_wp_speed_to_call.pdf (no form)

    Good luck!

  • by Pam Alvord Fri Oct 21, 2011 via web

    I can buy into the effectiveness of the second call, but if you go beyond that, the title of my blog says it all. "Attention Marketers: Your lead gen practices are making me look like a bitch" http://bit.ly/nGF9iR

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