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Leverage the Need for Immediacy to Grow Your Inbound Lead Revenue

4 min read
Updated Aug. 25, 2021
Published Apr. 11, 2019

Inbound lead response time is critical to generating revenue.  Picture a world in which you locate the coffee you like on Amazon, only to have to fill out a request form and wait for a reply.  Then, imagine what would happen if they didn’t respond to your order request for 2 hours… 12 hours… and full day.

I would lose my mind. 

The root problem – having to wait for something you want – is frustrating in any scenario. Buyers have a need for immediacy – regardless of whether it’s a B2B or B2C interaction.

Inbound B2B Lead Response in Sales

What happens if your sales team pushes off responding to an inquiry for a few days – or even hours? You are already behind.

The lead may have already visited a competitor’s website and be further into the sales process with a more responsive salesperson. In the most extreme scenario, they might have already made a purchase decision. Failing at responding to inbound sales leads is costly.

Salesloft’s SVP of Sales Strategy, Jeremey Donovan, got curious about inbound sales lead response time and turned it into a white paper.  A newly-submitted lead is already making headway through your sales funnel. How can a sales organization capitalize on that interest? We submitted lead generation forms on the websites of 97 B2B organizations to learn more.

There’s a lot of meat in this study about how businesses are (and are not) making lead response a priority.  In this post, we’ll cover lead capture options, response time, and the number of follow-ups to submissions.

Lead Capture Options

The ways companies can capture leads on their websites are increasing at the speed of technology. The figure below adds up to more than 100% because companies very rarely only offer one way to connect.

Percent of company homepages using various lead capture approaches

Percent of company homepages using various lead capture approaches

A ‘Contact Us’ option is standard practice. More than 50% of companies entice prospects with demos. Organizations with more complex offerings requiring managed setup and implementation are especially likely to do this. Companies with more self-explanatory offerings – typically those targeting individual corporate users to create a groundswell – offer free trials.

Lead Response Time

A study published wayyyyy back in the March 2011 issue of Harvard Business Review (HBR) found the median online lead response time was between 1 and 2 hours.  Hours, y’all.

Our research efforts revealed that the bar has been set higher in the last 8 years.

  • The percentage of companies responding in less than 5 minutes increased from 26% to 40%.
  • The median response time decreased from 1 to 2 hours to just 18 minutes.
2019 inbound lead response time

Today’s inbound lead response time

Responding to Inbound Leads

If we could offer you one piece of advice for responding to inbound leads, it is to be (pleasantly) persistent. When we looked at the number of times companies reached out to us over a period of one week, the results were surprising. True, one week is on the short side since some may have a longer cadence for follow-up. You certainly don’t want to annoy a lead. The fact still remains, as the chart below shows, that far too many companies give up after just a single touch.

% of companies by number of emails and calls with voicemail over a 1 week period

% of companies by number of emails and calls with voicemail over a 1 week period

We also looked at multi-channel engagement. A whopping 82% of companies asked for a phone number on their lead generation forms. However, just 31% ever called and left a voicemail.

Make no mistake – phone calls are critical to securing meetings with prospects. Companies are clearly leaving money on the table by taking the email-only road. This aversion to using the phone seems to be a growing issue in the sales community. It may be easier to use email, but it isn’t more effective.

The Good News

Inbound lead response is an area of your business that can be quickly optimized to outperform competitors.  Be encouraged by the opportunity that exists for responsive sales teams willing to engage leads before the competition does.

This was just a small preview of the whole study.  Download the full study to learn about techniques for capturing leads, how to personalize responses, and dig deeper into a few real-world examples.

Learn more about responding inbound B2B sales leads, including specific inbound techniques, in this white paper: Best Practices for Inbound B2B Sales Lead Responses.

Inbound lead response time study