Category: Lead Response

Larger Companies Take Longer to Respond to Sales Leads

Though small companies respond faster, they still take too long.

A recent report analyzing lead response showed some encouraging progress in response rates, while simultaneously revealing the need for more attention to this time-critical component of lead management.

In a fresh perspective, the report looked at lead response in relation to company size. It found that for companies with fewer than 300 employees the median lead response time was forty-eight minutes, or about three quarters of an hour. Compare that to companies with more than 2,500 employees, which came in at almost twice as long at one hour and twenty-eight minutes, or about an hour and a half.

“While the connection between responsiveness and company size wasn’t studied, it’s reasonable to assume that larger companies have more complex systems in place, which drags down their reaction speed,” says Adam Berkson, president of LiveVoice, a specialty call center that addresses this dilemma with a premier lead response service for today’s time-compressed marketplace.

Berkson offers some suggestions for both large and small companies to improve the timeliness of their lead response:


How many steps must lead information go through from the time a prospect clicks the submit button to when the salesperson presses dial? Regardless of how many there are, look to reduce the number of layers. “For ideal efficiency, the lead information should go from website directly to the salesperson,” Berkson says. “And you also need to provide an immediate alert. Don’t let a lead just sit in someone’s email inbox.”


While some might object to Berkson’s recommendation as cutting out too many steps, he’s quick to counter with the suggestion of doing things in parallel, at least the essential steps. “While many people think of a sequential process, there is no need for that,” says Mike Novak, chief technology officer at TeleServices Direct, a worldwide provider of outsource call center services. “For example, instead of sending a lead to a sales manager for assignment, send the lead directly to the salesperson and at the same time notify the manager.” This cuts out time, but still keeps the manager informed. “The same applies for lead tracking and marketing reporting. Though these steps aren’t time critical, too many businesses insert them into the front end of the process and thereby delay the leads in reaching sales.”


Often marketing and sales exist in near isolation from each other, notes Berkson. And in too many organizations these two departments stand in opposition or at least in an uneasy coexistence. The ultimate goal of each department is new business, so management needs to foster a spirit of better interdepartmental teamwork.


Don’t set an internal response rate target based on what managers think is reasonable or achievable. Instead consider what the prospect expects. Of course if they just downloaded a whitepaper, calling them one minute later to see if they have questions is absurd, but in most cases speed is an asset. “Seek to determine your prospects’ needs, and then work to meet that objective,” says Berkson.


A salesperson may think the timer starts when he or she first receives the lead, but in reality the clock has already been ticking, often for quite a while. Sales managers must first ensure their charges are being diligent in responding to leads and second that they are doing so in a timely manner. In this perspective, the sales manager must look at the big picture, tracking the time from when the prospect submitted their contact information, not from when the salesperson first received it.

“The idea of same day response is old school,” says Berkson. “Even thirty minutes is no longer fast enough.” While some leading-edge companies aim for a five-minute response time, LiveVoice has a goal of one minute. If one minute seems like an unreachable objective, then turn your lead response over to someone who can achieve it.

LiveVoice understands how important every call is to your business. Contact them about customizing their flexible, premium phone support service so you can turn opportunity into profit.

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