Category: Lead Response

Use the Telephone as Your First Response to a Lead

To turn leads into sales, start with a call, then mix in other channels, and don’t stop too soon

We’ve talked a lot about the need to follow up on leads fast and not wait too long in order to maximize lead response effectiveness. This provides the best chance of turning that lead into a qualified prospect in order to close the sale.

“The inclination of most sales reps is to use the easiest approach in making that first contact,” says Adam Berkson, president of LiveVoice, a boutique call center service provider that specializes in effective lead response services for today’s time-crunched buyer. “However, that instinct is wrong and too often squanders the lead.”

Berkson offers the following considerations for successful lead response management:


It’s easy to type out a quick email message in an attempt to reach a lead, but how soon will he or she read that email? Most people respond to email in batches, which means they’re focused on working through a lot of messages as fast as possible, explains Berkson, so the delete button becomes an easy default. “An email as an initial response is apt to be missed and therefore isn’t effective. Use the phone instead.” Yet only 25 percent of sales reps use the phone for any of their contact attempts, let alone that all critical first contact.


Anytime you encounter voicemail when following up with leads, Berkson recommends leaving messages. Though he doesn’t expect recipients to return the call, the goal is to familiarize them with your name and company. That prepares them to respond positively on future contacts. “Leave short messages and get to the point.” As the saying goes, “less is more.” Never ramble.


While a speedy response is of paramount importance, so too is the need to have compelling communication. “When following up on a lead, strive to engage in productive conversation,” says Patricia Totton, CEO of TeleServices Direct, a worldwide provider of outsource call center services. “Be personable; build rapport; provide value. Don’t crank through a bunch of calls just to prove you responded. Ensure that every communication counts.”


Sadly, the median number of contacts, sometimes called the “persistency rate,” stands at one. While some salespeople make more than one contact, others make none. Though the median differs from the average, other studies put the average only slightly higher. “Making only one contact squanders leads,” says Berkson, “which wastes money and compromises marketing efforts.” How many contacts should you make? Some say six and others, eight, while studies show that results can still occur at twelve contacts. “The point is that most people stop too soon—way too soon.”


While Berkson advocates the phone for the first contact, he recommends adding other channels to either connect or advance the discussion. Email is a common secondary method, along with texting. Social media also offers opportunities to interact with prospects. “You can follow them, like their posts and comment, and even share their posts with others,” advises Berkson, “but exercise caution and don’t get carried away.” Be sure not to turn into a cyber stalker or get creepy. “That’s a sure way to turn off a prospect.”

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.