What Is Speed to Lead? And Why It Matters for Sales and Lead Gen Success

How fast are you contacting leads after they express an interest in your business?  Better yet, do you know how fast you should be contacting leads to beat the competition and capture the moment the lead is hot with high intent?

In this guide to speed to lead, we dig into this sales concept — a tactic, really, that sales teams should prioritize. Learn about the critical importance of your lead response time as we delve into:

  • The definition of speed to lead
  • 3 can’t-miss speed to lead stats that illustrate its importance
  • The lead response management best practices you need to boost your speed to lead

 

What is speed to lead?

Also called “lead response time,” speed to lead is the amount of time it takes a business to contact a lead, measured from the moment a lead opts in. So, if a potential customer submits their contact information on your website and an agent calls them 2 hours later, your speed to lead is 2 hours.

Some organizations calculate and track speed to lead metrics on a list-by-list or even organization-wide basis. This is done by adding up each individual lead response time and dividing by the total number of leads contacted.

calculate and track speed to lead metrics_Convoso blog

 

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Why speed to lead matters: 3 key statistics

For outbound call centers, speed to lead, or speed to contact, can make all the difference between closing a sale and losing out on a lead entirely. If your business is dialing on non-exclusive real-time leads, lightning-quick speed to lead is your competitive advantage. However, as these speed to lead statistics clearly show, even if you’re reaching out to exclusive high-intent leads, sales success still frequently comes down to how fast your business attempts to make contact.

1.  Every Minute Matters

Some companies might wonder if there’s such a thing as contacting a lead too quickly. According to one study, the answer is just plain no. In fact, for those dialing leads, every single minute truly counts: calling a lead in the first minute boosts conversion rates by 391 percent. Call one minute later and that number drops to just 120 percent. 

2.  The “Five Minute Rule”

Okay, sure—we hear you, calling every lead in under a minute might sound like a tall order. So, how about in under five minutes?

A LeadResponseManagement.org study examined B2B sales teams’ lead response times to understand the impact of speed to call on conversion rates. The results were stark enough that sticking to the five minute rule should be the goal of every sales team. Because when teams responded to leads in five minutes or less they were:

  • 100 times more likely to connect than when waiting just one hour
  • 21 times more likely to qualify a lead

3.  Online Leads Have a Short Life Span

Both of these stats make clear the importance of maximizing your speed to lead. But why is it so crucial? As a landmark Harvard Business Review study illustrates, it’s simply because online leads don’t last long. Keep zooming out beyond those first five minutes, even beyond the first hours, and things only get even more dire for online leads. When one isn’t called within the first day, the chance of qualifying that leads drops by 6000%.

Yet, too many companies still haven’t gotten the memo about speed to lead. That team of Harvard Business Review researchers found that just 37% of businesses responded to leads within an hour. Even more frighteningly, 24% took more than 24 hours—and a full 23% of companies never responded at all!

 

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Boost your speed to lead with best practices for lead response management

The need for speed to lead is obvious. The longer you wait to contact leads, the more likely it is that they’ll have moved on to something. (Or worse, opted for a competitor.) But why do so many companies still lack a quick enough lead response time and leave leads on the table? 

Oftentimes, it’s not a lack of intent that holds them back from peak performance—it’s a lack of the right tools. These contact center solutions and best practices can lower your lead response time and deliver results.

“One of the things that most call center operators don’t understand is speed to lead at scale. What I mean by that is that when you have thousands or hundreds of thousands of leads, you want to get through to each and every one of them. And a lot of dialers don’t have the ability to scale in terms of the call attempts per second.”   – Nima Hakimi, CEO & Co-Founder, Convoso

Rely on a Powerful, Intelligent Dialer Technology

If you’re racing your competition for leads and you don’t have the right dialer software, you can go ahead and take your business out of the running. To maximize speed to lead and reach customers while your offerings are still top-of-mind, call centers need a dialer technology that provides maximum power alongside leading intelligence. 

Some dialer providers may advertise unlimited minutes on a high number of lines, but what they don’t tell users is how fast their software can actually make use of all those lines—or how many of the calls will actually be connected with available agents. Without the necessary throughput and power to back them up, all those extra lines won’t mean a thing: your dialer will still take too long to call through your lists, leading to high wait times for agents and lots of leads that are only getting colder and colder by the second. 

Meanwhile, a dialer that relies on intelligent algorithms will make it possible to maximize the number of outgoing calls while minimizing the number of abandoned calls. With a leading predictive dialer, your software won’t just instantly ramp up its dialing rate to penetrate lists at maximum speed. It will also be able to accurately predict agent availability and adjust the dial rate as necessary. And that’s a recipe for better speed to lead, better contact rates, and more revenue-boosting conversions.

“Convoso has the ability to get through thousands or hundreds of thousands of leads faster than any other dialer because we actually place every single call out. Other dialers tell you that they will give you, for example, 10 lines, but not every single one of those calls is actually being placed. So what happens is you’ll end up burning through those leads because the attempt is not really being made while the dialer is telling you that the calls were placed.”  – Nima Hakimi, CEO & Co-Founder, Convoso

 

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Maximize Efficiency with Workflow Dialing & Automation

The pursuit of winning speed to lead shouldn’t end with a powerful, intelligent predictive dialer though – after all, the best racers are made of so much more than a top-notch engine. To penetrate lists with the highest efficiency possible, businesses also need the right call center automation tools.

One essential ability for those seeking speed to lead is workflow automation. Combined with the right lead management tools, workflow automation will ensure first and foremost that the newest, warmest real-time leads are loaded into the hopper and dialed with the highest priority.

Rob Bayer, President of Anomaly Squared, says using this “last in, first out” strategy is a must. Speaking at LeadsCon 2022, Bayer said that not only should your dialer be able to prioritize the warmest leads, it should also offer skills-based routing options to ensure that those warm leads go to your top-performing agents.

Easier Lead Follow-Up

Workflow automation won’t just speed up and improve your first calls. It will also take the tedious manual labor out of lead recycling and follow-up. Instead of having to manually tinker with the call intervals for different dispositions, managers can simply create their own set of rules at the list level that the dialer will follow automatically. Plus, with the right software, contact attempts can be front-loaded. This way, leads are dialed more often while they’re newer to increase contact rates.

Dialing isn’t the only tool that can help you win with speed to lead, though. Workflows should include omnichannel capabilities to support outbound calls and boost the effectiveness of your lead follow-up. For example, automated outbound SMS and email can work in tandem with dialing to deliver not just speed to lead but speed to contact. After each initial call attempt, a text or email can let leads know you called. Then, as you move through your outreach cadence, drip messages can help increase contact rates on future calls. They can also drive more inbound traffic, bringing the customers to you first.

 

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Get Granular with Reporting 

So your business has the right software, strategies, and best practices for lead response management in place. Now you need robust reporting capabilities to understand whether your new and improved approach is successful. Because ultimately, while it’s critically important, speed to lead isn’t the only factor in your call center’s success.

With real-time call center reporting, your team can easily monitor KPIs and reports that affect and reflect speed to lead. For instance, a List Penetration Report can help decision-makers understand whether crucial lists are being penetrated quickly enough to maximize conversions. 

However, they should also be able to compare the performance of lists and analyze factors beyond speed to lead that affect contact and conversion rates—including call blocking and flagging, agent talk time, and more. Even with the best speed to lead, poor sales scripts, poor caller ID reputation, and other factors can still hinder performance. 

 

Where to Start with Speed to Lead

Getting the lead response time your contact center needs to qualify more leads and close more sales all starts with having the right call center technology. Request a free demo today and compare Convoso’s leading dialer software side-by-side against your existing tech. It’s an easy first step toward achieving a winning speed to lead. 

 

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