How Quickly Should You Contact Inbound Leads? What’s The Optimal Repsonse Time?

When it comes to lead response times, how quickly is quick enough? In this article, we how quickly you should contact inbound leads and some tips to do so.
Reading time: 7 minutes

A surefire way to lose sales and loyal customers is if you have long lead response times

According to statistics, making a lead wait for more than 5 minutes dramatically decreases the chances you’ll be able to qualify them and close a deal. Not only that, but data also shows that a large chunk of sales goes to the company that responds first, so it’s critical to ensure you are responding as quickly as possible.

This is what makes lead response management so important and can be a key differentiating factor that sets you apart from the rest. 

But when it comes to inbound leads, how quick is quick enough?

In this post, we’ll discuss the optimal lead response time and how you can achieve it. We’ll also provide some tips for optimizing your lead response process so you can get the most out of each response your team sends. Let’s get started!


Key statistics that prove why lead response time matters

The correlation between lead response times and many business-performance metrics has been widely studied, proving the importance of keeping a close eye on this essential part of your inbound marketing efforts. 

Some of the most relevant results that came from analyzing vasts amounts of marketing data related to lead response times are:

  1. You’re 9 times more likely to connect and qualify a lead if you reply within 5 minutes of them making first contact. When you make a lead wait 10 minutes or more, the odds of qualifying them drops by 400%.
  2. If you put the pedal to the metal and reach leads within the first minute, conversions will increase almost 4x, provided you do things right (read below).
  3. If you respond to them first, about 78% of leads will buy from you over your competition.
  4. Nine out of ten leads will not respond at all if you wait more than 30 days to follow up on their initial contact.
  5. Long lead response times increase your customer churn rate by as much as 15%.

With these statistics, you would think every business out there had response times of only a few minutes, but that’s far from the truth. In fact, a study showed that 24% of companies took over 24 hours to respond while 23% didn’t respond at all — which is crazy!

How to calculate your lead response time

So now you know that lead response time is important and that it could easily become a great source of growth and profits for your business. But how exactly is it measured? 

It is fairly simple and only requires two pieces of information:

  • The time when a lead submits a form or requests more information from your company.
  • The time when your team successfully contacts the lead.

After that, you have to subtract the former from the latter, and you’re set.

Lead response time formula

While this metric lets you look at each lead time separately, it’s usually more informative to look at the Average lead response time (ALRT), which is calculated by taking the total sum of all LRTs and dividing it by the number of leads.

Lead response time formula

ALRT = Total sum of all LRTs / Number of leads

This number will give you a more accurate portrayal of your team’s overall performance and will be much easier to benchmark and improve over time.

What is an optimal lead response time?

The five-minute rule is a good general guideline to follow when it comes to an optimal lead response time. However, as you may already imagine, achieving an average lead response time of 5 minutes or less is very challenging — otherwise, most companies would have lowered their metrics to that point by now, but they haven’t

Therefore, you can consider 5 minutes to be something of an ideal to aim for but not a realistic long-term goal.

That being said, if you’re looking for a more attainable figure to aim at, you should note that the optimal lead response time will vary depending on your industry, product, company size, and even target market.

For example, data from HubSpot reveals that the average response time for telecoms is around 16 minutes, while healthcare organizations usually answer leads after more than 2 hours. On the other hand, small companies normally respond in under 50 minutes, while large corporations may take almost twice as much.

Tips to improve your lead response time

Even if you don’t think you can get your lead response time down to 5 minutes, you can still do many things to shorten it significantly and give your business a competitive advantage. Here are a few tips to get you started:

Tip #1: Track the right metrics

You should regularly monitor and analyze your team’s performance to identify areas of improvement. Some important metrics to track include:

  • Average lead response time
  • Average lead response time by rep
  • Average number of follow-ups attempted per lead
  • Average sales cycle length

Tip #2: Standardize your lead response process

Standardizing your lead response processes brings many benefits in terms of performance and consistency. It also makes it easier to scale your inbound call center team if you find that you’re getting a high lead response time because you’re understaffed.

You should write down the process in a very clear and concise set of instructions that state what needs to be done every time a lead comes in, how, when, and where to do it, and who will be responsible for each step.

Tip #3: Take advantage of technology

A lead capture software combined with a good CRM tool can be a great addition to your team as it can take care of the initial contact with leads and even pre-qualify them before passing them on to your sales reps. 

This way, you can ensure that only the most promising leads are sent to your team, saving them precious time and increasing inbound call conversion rates.

Tip #4: Implement an auto-dialer

An auto-dialer is a software application that automates repetitive tasks such as placing calls and leaving voicemails so that your reps can focus on closing deals rather than menial tasks. 

Autodialers automatically call a list of contacts so reps can skip the manual dialing.
Autodialers automatically call a list of contacts so reps can skip the manual dialing.

When combined with a CRM system, an auto-dialer can help you keep track of all your leads’ interactions and minimize the time needed to call a lead back.

Tip #5: Outsource

You can either outsource the entire inbound lead response process by choosing one of the many call center service solutions, or outsource other parts of your business to focus your efforts and team on attaining the best lead response time possible. 

For example, remote businesses may find it easier to have a virtual mailbox provider like iPostal1 handle everything related to incoming physical mail while they dedicate their time and energy to all other digital communication channels.

Tip #6: Train your team on the importance of LRT and how to improve it

One of the main reasons why businesses have such long lead response times is because the reps who are dealing with inbound calls don’t see the importance of it. 

This is where the saying ‘put yourself in their shoes’ comes in. 

Make sure your team is aware of the importance of lead response time and how their individual performance affects the company’s bottom line. Additionally, provide your reps with regular training to shorten their lead response times without sacrificing quality.

Tips to improve the value of your responses to inbound leads

It’s not enough to shorten your lead response time — you also need to ensure that your responses are valuable and relevant if you want to increase conversion rates. Here are a few tips on how to do that:

Tip #1: Choose the right channel

Not all channels are created equal — some will work better than others, depending on your product, target market, and industry. 

For example, if you’re selling high-end products or services to other businesses, email may not be the best channel. In this case, a phone call might be a better option as its more personal and direct.

Tip #2: Personalize your responses and use contextual information

To build rapport with leads, it’s important to personalize your responses and avoid using generic or automated messages. Take the time to learn about your lead’s needs and pain points to address them directly in your response.

Suppose you’re running a blog that recommends credit cards to residents from different countries. In that case, it’s important to consider where your lead lives to provide information in your response that is valuable to them. 

Otherwise, you may end up sending them generic information that doesn’t provide any real value, or you’ll be suggesting American credit cards when they’re interested in Canadian credit cards or credit cards from somewhere else.

Additionally, use information from the lead’s interactions with your website to form your response. For example, if you know what page they were on when they submitted their information, you can mention it in your message or provide further information on the same topic.

Tip #3: Be clear and concise

When giving your responses, always be clear and concise. Avoid using industry jargon or technical terms that your lead may not understand. Get straight to the point and provide value from the start.

Tip #4: Prioritize inbound leads

It’s important to prioritize inbound leads over other types of leads because they’ve already shown an interest in your product or service. Otherwise, why would they make the effort to connect with your business in the first place?

Additionally, in most cases, getting inbound leads requires spending on different marketing efforts, from content marketing and SEO to PPC and other forms of paid advertisement.

Therefore, ignoring or taking too long to answer inbound leads is like buying food and not eating it, even though you’re hungry.

The bottom line

Shortening your lead response time should be a priority for most businesses, and it can prove to be a great source of sales and profits for your business. Shorter lead response times make it easier to connect with inbound leads, qualify them, and convert them into sales while lowering your business’ customer churn rate.

However, while lowering your lead response time is a good first step, it’s not enough. You also need to ensure that your responses are valuable and relevant if you want to increase conversion rates.

Following the tips in this post will lower the average lead response time in your business or inbound call center and make those responses more valuable for you and your lead.

It’s a win-win any way you look at it, so don’t hesitate and start applying them today!

Picture of Jordan Bishop
Jordan Bishop

Jordan Bishop is the founder of Yore Oyster and How I Travel, two sites to help you optimize your finances while living an international life. He recently published his first book, Unperfect, an exploration of problem solving.

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