How long does it typically take your B2B company to respond to new leads? Known as lead response time, it will directly affect the number of sales your B2B company generates. The sooner you respond to new leads, the greater the chances of converting them into buyers. Neglecting to quickly respond to leads may result in them choosing a competitor's product or service.
Regardless of how you acquire them, though, you may not be able to respond to new leads immediately. According to a study of over 2,200 B2B companies conducted by Harvard Business Review (HBR), the average lead response time in the B2B industry is 42 hours. In other words, it takes most B2B companies nearly two full days to respond to new leads. By that time, many leads have already moved on, making conversions few and far between. The good news is that you can shorten your B2B company's lead response time through optimization.
Align Marketing and Sales Teams
Aligning your B2B company's marketing and sales teams can shorten its lead response time. When aligned, marketing professionals and sales reps can share data with each other to promote faster responses to new leads. Marketing and sales alignment, in fact, is a defining characteristic of account-based marketing (ABM). You can't implement an ABM strategy unless you align your B2B company's marketing and sales teams.
The alignment of your B2B company's marketing and sales teams can help curb its long lead response time. Marketing professionals can acquire new leads, after which they can immediately notify sales reps. The sales reps can then contact those new leads to pitch a product or service -- or to simply nurture them further down your B2B company's sales pipeline.
Auto-Validate Lead Data
Another way to optimize your B2B company's sales process for a shorter lead response time is to auto-validate lead data. When a new prospective buyer completes a lead form, he or she will provide your B2B company with data. Depending on the type of lead form, lead data may consist of names, job titles, phone numbers, email addresses and more. Auto-validation refers to the use of software to automatically check the accuracy of this lead data.
Auto-validating lead data is designed to filter improperly formatted data so that it doesn't reach your B2B company. Most types of data require a specific format. Phone numbers, for example, should follow a 10-digit numerical format, with the first three numbers indicating the area code. Email addresses, on the other hand, should be formatted as firstname.lastname@example.org. If a new prospective buyer uses the wrong format for a given type of data, auto-validation will filter the bad data. With auto-validation, you won't waste time chasing down new leads with bad data. You and your B2B company's sales team will have access to clean lead data that uses the right format.
Allow New Leads to Book Appointments
For a shorter lead response time, you may want to allow new leads to book appointments. Appointment booking is a feature in most CRM solutions. Alternatively, you can implement appointment booking using a content management system (CMS). Allowing new leads to book appointments means they can specify a date and time to discuss a potential deal. Upon receiving this information, you can make a note to call or otherwise contact new leads on their specified date and time. The end result is a faster lead response time that encourages more sales.
Leverage an Email Autoresponder
You can use an email responder to optimize your B2B company's process for a shorter lead response time. As the name suggests, autoresponders are designed to respond automatically to users, including new leads, who send your B2B company an email. They are often used in conjunction with an email newsletter. You can create a newsletter while using an autoresponder to automatically message new subscribers. Users who subscribe to your B2B company's newsletter may consist of leads. Leveraging an email autoresponder means that you can respond to them automatically.
All of the top email marketing providers offer autoresponders. Using an email marketing service, you can create a custom autoresponder consisting of sales messages to send new leads. With that said, many customer relationship management (CRM) solutions also have built-in autoresponders. Whether you use a dedicated email marketing service or a CRM, you should leverage an email responder to achieve a shorter lead response time.
It may sound unusual, but hosting livestreams can have a positive impact on your B2B company's lead response time. A livestream is a real-time video broadcast. You can host livestreams on your B2B company's website or its social media profiles. When hosting a livestream, viewers will be able to see and hear you in real time over the broadcast.
How can livestreams help you achieve a shorter lead response time exactly? You can livestream content that attracts new leads during a livestream. More importantly, these new leads can engage with your B2B company in real time during the livestream. They may ask you for more information about a demonstrated product or service, in which case you can respond to them immediately. Livestreams are conducted in real time, so they allow you to interact with viewers, such as new leads, without experiencing any delay.
Aim for 5 Minutes or Less
When optimizing your B2B company's sales process for a shorter lead response time, try to aim for five minutes less. Time is money in the B2B industry. If you wait too long to respond to a lead, you may struggle to convert him or her into a buyer.
Five minutes is typically the sweet spot for an effective lead response time. Research shows that sales reps who call new leads within the first five minutes of acquiring them are over 20 times as likely to generate a sale than those who call new leads after 30 minutes. As long as keep your B2B company's lead response time at five minutes or less, you'll reap the benefits of a higher conversion rate that drives more sales.