Back in the days when people would mail their request for more information, they were content to wait for weeks. Then the telephone became the preferred lead response mechanism and people shortened their expectation to receiving a return phone call within one business day, which then shortened to a couple of hours. But leading companies handled the request immediately, without the need to call back.
Now, with online advertising, potential customers are a couple clicks away from requesting more information. With the immediacy of the internet, their lead response time expectations are much shorter. What started as a goal of a one-hour lead response time, shortened to ten minutes and then five. But in some cases, five minutes is not quick enough. How fast is fast enough? The simple answer is as quick as possible, with five minutes being the longest—that is, assuming you want to close sales.
With a degree in marketing, a decade of experience, and several successful marketing initiatives to her credit, Catherine Bennett was at the top of her game. But with no advancement potential at her current company, she sought a new opportunity. That opening came when she applied for a job with an established service company that struggled to close sales generated by their marketing department. Catherine accepted their offer of a five-figure increase in salary and a corresponding challenge for her to fix.
So urgent was a situation that they created a new, upper-management position for Catherine: director of sales and marketing. She would oversee the existing vice president of sales and vice president of marketing, both established professionals in the industry and with the company. But both struggled to meet the expectations of the CEO, criticizing each other for their own failures. Sales blamed marketing for poor leads and not enough of them, while marketing blamed sales for squandering the leads they did receive. Catherine had to fix the problem and get them to play nice with each other.
Unable to get any useful insight from either of her two direct reports, Catherine dug into things herself. Though both the VP of marketing and the VP of sales had things they needed to do differently, moving from what once worked into what now works, Catherine found the biggest problem was the slow lead response time.
The company had a thorough, methodical process to handle leads. Unfortunately, the process was cumbersome and ineffective. Four people handled the lead between the time the prospect submitted the request and the assigned salesperson received the information. On average this took three business days to accomplish. At best it could occur in a day and a half, but at worst it sometimes took a full week.
Then the sales team would sit on it, waiting for what they believed to be the ideal time to contact the prospect. By the time they did, the prospect had either forgotten about their interest and were on to something else, or they had already purchased a competitor’s service.
As a result, sales blamed marketing for lousy leads, while marketing blamed sales for lousy follow-through. They spent more time pointing fingers then trying to fix the problem.
Once Catherine discovered the main problem for poor sales, she immediately knew that the solution was to speed up the lead response time. Part of this was educating the sales team, each one who had their own theories as to the ideal time to respond to leads. Many thought it was midafternoon on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. They held the leads they received for their next “window of opportunity.” Catherine worked with the VP of sales to change the perspective of the salesforce. The best time to respond to a lead was as soon as they received it. That maximized the likelihood of closing the sale.
However, the bigger problem was the length of time it took to process the leads so the sales team could follow up on them. Catherine worked with the parties involved to streamline their system and speed leads to sales. Though she shaved a day off the normal process, this produce stress for each person who touched the lead, not to mention resentment toward Catherine for pushing them to react faster. Mostly they spent their time telling her that her ideas were impractical and that once she understood the company, she would realize this.
Catherine knew that if she continued to fight this battle, it could go on for months, even years, and still not achieve the lead response time she wanted and that she knew was possible. At best, she would need to outwait her detractors for them to quit or move into other positions. She wasn’t willing to wait, especially given that the CEO expected results now. After all, that’s why she had created this new position for Catherine and paid her the big bucks.
Instead of fixing this vexing internal problem, one mired in inertia, Catherine bypassed it by outsourcing lead response to a BPO call center that specialized in providing rapid lead response service. At the recommendation of an industry peer, she selected Direct Call Centers. Lead response service was one of their specialties, and they have many happy clients who use the service.
Now, when the prospect clicks on an online ad to request more information, that lead goes to the call center immediately. They call the prospect back (or email or text, if that’s the requested communication channel) within seconds. Not that day, not in an hour, and not even five minutes, but seconds. Usually within sixty seconds.
The call center gets more information from the prospect, prequalifies the lead, and handles the next step. Usually this is a handoff to the appropriate salesperson. The salesperson receives the lead, along with the information gathered by the call center via text, along with a backup email. A copy of the email goes to the vice president of sales, who can then hold the salesperson accountable for their lead response time.
Though the marketing department had done nothing to change what they were doing, the sales team assumed they had. Now, instead of closing less than one out of twenty leads, their sales rates jumped, often to above 50 percent. The CEO was ecstatic, and the VP of sales stopped his finger pointing, instead becoming an advocate for Catherine.
Though none of this directly affected marketing, the increase in sales from the sales department and their corresponding improvement of attitude toward marketing, had a positive effect. Marketing upped their game as well, producing better ads and pursuing enlightened marketing initiatives.
Now everyone was happy, from the CEO, to the VPs of marketing and sales, to the sales staff and marketing team, and especially the customers. But who is the happiest? Catherine. She earned a sizable bonus for her results, which all happen because she decided to outsource lead response service to a BPO call center.
Direct Call Centers provides call center and contact center services to clients across the United States and around the world. Specializing in business process outsourcing (BPO), Direct Call Centers is your single source for essential contact center work and critical BPO support services, with a focus on four primary horizontal market niches: customer service, tech support, lead processing, and chargeback support. Get a free quote today to explore if Direct Call Centers is the right match for your company’s BPO needs.