First Reply: Does Quick Response Help Increase Sales?

How do we convert more customers? There are many answers to this question. In the best-case scenario, you understand customer motives and behavior, and during this process, learn what your client wants from your product or service. And voilà - you uncovered the secret of successful sales.

When done correctly, the tested research on customer behavior may work, but you (like many other businesses) have many clients who buy from your brand, and it’s unlikely that you know everyone personally. Despite the fact that everybody is different, there are many cases where people react or act the same way.

Imagine a situation: you want to buy some product and have a question, and type an email request or message in live chat support. How will the speed of the first reply impact your buying decision? Fascinating, right? From there, ask yourself, how can the speed of the first reply increase your sales? Let’s figure this out. The question is indeed worth investigating.

Analyze in a Little More Depth

Let’s take a peek at the Lead Response Management Study done by Professor James Oldroyd. It is not the latest—it was done in 2007—but things from that time changed rather in terms of expecting even faster and more efficient customer service.

Obviously, the speed of the first reply may improve the lead qualification and close rates. The delayed response in 30 rather than 10 minutes is prone to drop 4,3% of qualified leads, and the close rate falls by almost 2%. Besides, the more failed contact attempts the lower the qualification and close rate. The study shows that companies who manage to cut the number of contact attempts to one and reply within ten minutes improve their lead qualification by 26% and the close rate increases by 9,09%.

The study's findings showed that a sales manager has a higher chance of acquiring a qualified lead if contacted within 5 minutes. Moreover, that lead is 21 times more likely to buy from the company. After the current lead response report, the assumptions made above are still true.

Is The First Reply Fast Enough?

Suppose you think that all companies are applying best practices and replying to their potential customers as quickly as possible (read immediately). In that case, we will disappoint you: they do not respond nearly fast enough. To conquer your skepticism, the post “The Short Life of Online Sales Leads” in HBR (March 2011 Issue) accentuates the problem of underrating the importance of lead response time.

The investigation of how long it takes to send the first reply to a test lead in 2,241 companies revealed that 37% stated that they respond in an hour, 16% said that it takes from one to 24 hours, 24% of companies take more than 24 hours, and 23% don’t respond at all. The average response time was quite intriguing—42 hours for companies that send a reply to their customers-to-be within 30 days.

The Speed of Replies Depends on The Industry

Ask yourself: is there a correlation between the speed of replies and the industry? The research proves that there's a direct connection. The numbers presented are the average time the companies took to answer the researchers.

The software industry answers in 1 hour and 5 minutes, retail in 1 hour and 55 minutes, while manufacturing requires 1 hour 51 minutes. Healthcare takes 2 hours and 5 minutes to reply, and education and finance answer in 56 minutes. Business services are faster, and they need 44 minutes. Media and Internet replies in 35 minutes, and the fastest are telecommunications - 16 minutes.

Why Does Response Time Matter?

Now let’s go back to the Lead Response Management Study, the researchers audited data offered by six companies over 3 years. There is no easy way to speed up your first reply time, but the result of the investigation will enable useful, workable insights to accelerate sales.

Plan your week to follow up on leads
Choose Wednesday and Thursday to get in touch, and avoid Tuesdays as the researchers state these are the worst days.

The best day for lead qualification
Thursdays are preferable to Tuesdays for qualifying the lead. The study says that it will be 19% more effective in numbers.

Choose when to contact the leads
So, the best time to get in touch with your future customer is from 4 to 6 pm, while qualifying the lead has two options: from 8 to 9 am and from 4 to 5 pm. In point of fact, you may combine and contact between 4 to 5 pm, and the next day contact from 11 to 12 am for the qualification.

Everything sounds very bright and useful, but in the real world, people message or call you when it's necessary.  That’s why it's best to put emphasis on the speed of the first reply to your prospects despite the day of the week and time. Just keep in mind: the sooner, the better.

What Does This Data Tell?

To succeed in business, you should create tangible, lasting connections with the customers and meet their expectations for a fast first reply. The analyzed studies show that quick responses deliver more closed sales. The delays may be explained as the following:

  • The sales manager doesn’t get the request, email, or call from marketing automation or the help desk platform.
  • The request for customer-to-be has been made, but the sales manager is away or didn’t notice it.
  • The company lacks the setup lead follow-up and qualification process.
  • The lack of team interest in fast responses.
  • Marketing, sales, and support teams work separately.

Now more than ever, the market offers various solutions, tools, integrations, or migration services if you need to change the current platform for a more suitable one for your business needs. Adding gamification elements will inspire you to respond faster to leads and customers in ten minutes or less. In that line of thought, the potential issues mentioned above can be fixed.

In the end, this much is clear the importance of first reply time is underestimated by many companies from various industries. And the answer to the question: “Does Quick Response a Secret to Increase Sales?” will be “Yes, it has a significant influence.”

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