Slow response times are plain bad for business. If potential customers are kept waiting, they could lose interest in your product or service or move on to a competing company out of annoyance that you didn't get back to them quickly enough.
For many businesses, competition is fierce. The world is moving at a fast pace, especially since mobile devices make it so convenient to browse the internet, shop around and order something in just a few clicks.
78% of new business goes to the first responder, so making your speed to lead time as fast as possible is crucial.
What is speed to lead?
Speed to lead is the average time it takes your business to respond to hot leads – people already interested in your product or service – from the point of their enquiry. Typically, this is when the prospect fills in a lead generation form, sends a text message or email, or makes a call. It covers all customer communication channels.
Why improving speed to lead is crucial for lead response management
Lead generation doesn't come cheap when you factor in time, effort and money. If you don't respond swiftly enough to inbound leads and manage them properly, your marketing efforts will go to waste. Improving lead response times makes the entire lead management process more effective because it:
1. Boosts sales
Did you know 59% of customers are more likely to buy when a business answers their queries in less than one minute? One of the best channels to use for responding to sales enquiries is SMS because texts are delivered more or less instantly. And texting leads can achieve a click-through rate (CTR) of around 19% (whereas email only gets a CTR of 3.2%).
2. Builds credibility
Responding quickly to leads shows that your company is a) professional and b) takes its customers seriously. If your current speed to lead time is two working days, that doesn't necessarily shout, "We want your business!"
Being reachable, responsive and helpful is something that must be built into your sales process to establish credibility and trust with customers.
3. Improves customer satisfaction
Prospective customers like being listened to – an immediate response ensures they feel they're not wasting their time. They'll notice if your business is responsive or not. Having a positive first interaction is essential if you want someone to buy from your company.
4. Promotes customer loyalty
Going beyond customer satisfaction, a fast speed to lead time sets the foundation for customer loyalty – the holy grail for any business. If your lead becomes a customer, those first initial positive interactions can help steer them towards loyalty behaviour.
Loyal customers not only come back and purchase from your business repeatedly; they also enjoy using your product/service and drive new customers by recommending you. They'll interact with you on various channels, including social media, helping to boost brand awareness.
How SMS marketing can improve your lead response time
Integrating an SMS API into your CRM system (or other business platforms) can work wonders for your sales process and lead response times. The integration process is often straightforward – for instance, you can use Zapier to integrate Messente into over 5,000 apps.
Once SMS is integrated, your lead follow-up process will benefit from the following:
SMS messages are delivered at lightning-quick speed. There are usually no delays unless your lead has their mobile phone switched off. And, if prospects come back with more questions, sales agents can go back and forth rapidly, providing answers and alleviating any concerns.
When you incorporate SMS into your follow-up flow, you're making it easy for customers to interact. They only need a mobile phone and access to a cellular network (there aren't many places nowadays that networks can't reach). They don't need to download a third-party app.
SMS is easy for your business too – you only need internet access and a virtual phone number (which you can apply for when you sign up to use an SMS API).
Pre-written text templates will improve your speed to lead time significantly. Using an SMS service, it's easy to set up text message templates for sales reps to use when replying to qualified leads. Here's a simple scenario: imagine a prospect wants to find out the cost of shipping a clothing item. You could create an SMS template that explains your shipping policy:
Thanks for asking about shipping, [Name]. We offer FREE worldwide shipping on clothing if you spend over €60. Otherwise, it's €6.99 worldwide, ETA of 5-7 days.
A sales rep can easily edit and personalise a template if they need to tweak it slightly. Here are some great tips on writing business text messages that resonate with leads and customers.
Using SMS autoresponders, you can send certain responses on autopilot – they’re helpful when your best sales reps are busy, as they keep the conversation going between your business and prospects.
An example of an SMS autoresponder is a chatbot that uses scripts (and sometimes AI) to identify keywords and send back an appropriate response. For example, let's say that an inbound lead sends a general enquiry to a financial services provider, such as:
I'm interested in a loan but not sure of eligibility or interest rates. Can you help?
This really requires a dedicated response as it depends on the potential applicant's circumstances. However, an SMS chatbot could identify the keywords 'loan', 'eligibility' and 'rates' and send back a holding response like:
Thanks for messaging! One of our sales professionals will be in touch soon. While you're waiting, read our FAQs for info on loan eligibility and rates. [URL]
Help your sales team improve speed to lead via SMS
Speed to lead is something that your business simply can't ignore if you want to boost new customer acquisition, improve customer satisfaction and set the foundation for strong customer loyalty.
By integrating SMS into your lead management platform, your sales reps can begin to build a good speed to lead time when they contact potential customers. Especially if you create a set of holding response templates and make use of SMS automation.
Ready to improve speed to lead time with SMS? Create a free account with Messente to see how our service can help.