Speed-to-call is the single largest driver of lead conversion, according to [download page] a November 2012 report from Leads360. Analyzing results from almost 3.5 million leads generated in the first half of 2012, across more than 400 companies,Â the study finds that phoning a new prospect within a minute of lead generation improves conversion rates by 391% compared to later times making the first call. As impressive as that figure is, it more than halves in the second minute to 160%, and drops by three-quarters in the third minute to 98%. In 24 hours, the number dips to a 17% improvement.
Of course, contacting a prospect often requires more than one call. But surprisingly, 50% of leads are never called a second time, even though the data shows that salespeople must be prepared to make up to 6 calls before surrendering. That is, 93% of all leads that convert are reached by the sixth call attempt, and just 7% of leads are converted after a 7th call attempt. Such diminishing returns suggest that 7 or more calls are likely not worth the cost: Leads that require 7+ calls before initial contact are 45% less likely to convert than those reached in 6 calls or less.
Outlining what it calls the optimal call strategy, Leads360 suggests that the first 3 of 6 calls should be made within 2 hours of lead generation. Ideally the first call is placed in under a minute; the second between 30 minutes and an hour; and the third between 1 and 2 hours. The strategy calls for the 4th call to be made on Day 5, the 5th on Day 14, and the 6th on Day 15.
Email Amplifies Contact Likelihood, But Is Ignored
Email in addition to phone outreach has a strong positive effect upon contact and conversion, according to Leads360’s “Ultimate Contact Strategy.” Emails sent in between phone calls raise the chances of achieving contact by 16%. But, 59% of sales prospects did not receive any email. In about half those instances, no email was collected, suggesting a poor email strategy.
The data reveals that the optimal number of email messages to increase conversion during the first month of a prospect’s lifetime is 5. The conversion rate after 6 or more emails was 36% lower than for prospects reached in 5 messages or less.
Those 5 attempts must be carefully paced, found the researchers, and more spread out than phone calls. Emailing within 20 minutes of lead generation boosts conversion rates by 49%, while making a second attempt on Day 4 also gives positive results. The remaining attempts should be made on Days 8, 15 and 22.
Combining the findings for phone calls and emails, the most effective contact strategy involves 6 phone calls and 5 emails, interspersed over 22 days.
About The Data: The study reflects results aggregated across nearly 3.5 million leads from more than 400 companies across an array of industries, and from a randomly-selected sample of Leads360 clients. Leads included were generated in the first half (H1) of 2012. Milestone, call and email data was collected through the end of Q3 to allow enough time for contact and conversion.