Early Bird Converts Leads to Sales

Any company that depends on an inside sales force to drive revenue knows that your business lives or dies on how well they convert leads. Whether salespeople use phone calls or emails to follow up with prospects, the single largest driver of lead conversion is how quickly action is taken, a new study shows.

The simple act of placing a phone call to a new prospect within a minute of when a lead comes in can increase the likelihood of conversion by nearly four times (391 percent), according to a study of data on almost 3.5 million leads from more than 300 companies. The analysis was conducted by Leads360, a provider of cloud-based lead management and sales automation solutions.

Each minute a salesperson waits to make the first call can greatly reduce the chances of ever converting the prospect, the study found. If the first phone call is made an hour after a lead, the likelihood of conversion falls to only 36 percent. If an entire day lapses, the likelihood of conversion plummets to 17 percent.

Persistence also pays — up to a point, the study found.  In the case of calling prospects, six times is the magic number. Ninety-three percent of all converted leads are reached by the sixth call attempt; after that, efforts quickly enter the world of diminishing returns. Only 7 percent of all leads that eventually convert are reached for the first time after seven or more calls.

Knowing when to make those six calls will affect conversion rates, the study found. While making the first call within one minute is the gold standard for which companies should strive, the study found that prospects contacted on a second call attempt made 30 to 60 minutes after lead generation had a higher conversion rate than any other half-hour period following the initial call.

The use of email as an adjunct to phone outreach can have a very positive effect of the ability of your inside sales staff to contact and convert prospects, the study found. Prospects who also receive emails have a 16 percent higher chance to be contacted by phone,

As with phone calls, though, the law of diminishing returns also applies to follow-up by email. The conversion rate for leads that were sent more than five email messages prior to reaching the prospect was 36 percent lower than the conversion rate for leads reached after the first five email messages.

Combing the highest performing phone and email strategies is the sweet spot for inside sales success, Leads360 said. Used together, they can result in a conversion gain of 128 percent, the study found.

Reach BusinessNewsDaily senior writer Ned Smith at nsmith@techmedianetwork.com. Follow him on Twitter @nedbsmith.We're also on Facebook & Google+.