Category: Lead Response

Are You a First Responder in Sales? If Not, Strive to Become One

Over three-fourths of the time, the first company to respond, wins

For product and service inquiries submitted online, 78 percent of the sales go to the first company that responds. So indicates Dave Elkington CEO and chairman of, a lead management and sales automation provider. Elkington’s presentation shares some hard-hitting research about lead conversion, including this shocking statistic from Leads360 (now known as Velocify).

Although astonishing, this is somewhat understandable given that close to half of all companies ignore sales leads. In fact, 43 percent remain silent. This sets the bar extremely low. Merely responding to an inquiry automatically moves a company ahead of 43 percent of their competition. This definitely tips the odds in their favor. So responding is the first essential; acting quickly is the second.

“Too often, ready consumers are just craving for someone, anyone, to respond to their desire for more information so they can make an informed purchasing decision,” says Adam Berkson, president of LiveVoice, an answering service call center that provides a lead response service. “They are ready to act, but need a bit of reassurance. Over three-fourths of the time this reassurance comes from the first company to reach out to them.”

Berkson advances some ideas about why this is the case. One theory is that people know from experience that their chance of actually hearing back from the companies they reached out to isn’t good. So when one company does call or email, consumers latch onto that company, figuring they need to make this work because the odds of someone else calling back are slim. This puts the first person to respond at a great advantage.

Another theory is that the first person to respond, by virtue of being first, establishes a formidable rapport with the consumer that only 22 percent of the later responders can overcome. “Ironically, this implies that it’s better to be quick than good,” Berkson suggests. “Although being quick and good is a nearly untouchable combination.”

Although it’s not possible to be too fast when responding to sales inquiries, another study suggests setting a goal to make contact within five minutes. This is statistically superior to a thirty-minute response time, which is vastly better than the old, outdated standards of “the same business day” or “within twenty-four hours.”

Berkson’s mission, however, is to set a new industry standard in response rates. His company’s goal is to respond to online information requests for his clients within sixty seconds, a mere minute. Anything longer is too long for Berkson.

Peter DeHaan, PhD, is a freelance writer, call center authority, and publisher of Connections Magazine, which covers the call center industry.