How Quickly Should You Follow Up On Sales Leads?

by | Aug 5, 2020 | Modern Sales Training, Plan.Grow.Do., Thought Leadership

How Quickly Should You Follow Up On Sales Leads?

Sales opportunities have always been prized but now they should be seen as priceless.

In our lockdown and furloughed environment, receiving a sales enquiry needs to be responded to as a priority and followed up.

What are you talking about we always follow up on sales opportunities

Follow up is without a doubt a great example of how modern selling requires a different approach than the more traditional responses your B2B sales force are likely providing.

For sure your Sales CRM will flag overdue opportunities for follow up but are you really exploiting all the tools available to you and are you really engaging with your buyers on their buying journey.

Your sales follow up is to slow, your sales engagement is not omnichannel and you miss how your customer wants to buy. You’re losing sales!

This is introduced and covered in the webinar How to Effectively Talk to Your Customer Before They’re Ready to Buy.

Link your online and offline sales activity to your buyers buying journey.

Follow up and the speed of response really make a difference.

You have to follow up because that’s what get’s results.

There’s no getting away from the fact that we live in an on-demand society.

You are used to having what you want when you want it. It won’t surprise you that your future customers behave in this expectant way too.

So why would your future customers be happy to wait for days or hours for a response or even an answer to their questions? They aren’t!

In 2007 A study by Dr James Oldroyd into lead responses found that the speed with which you reply to conversations with future customers dramatically affects the outcome.

This research said that replying within 5 minutes of an enquiry makes your chances of reaching them 100 times greater when compared to replying after 30 minutes.

In addition, the odds of the conversations started within 5 minutes turning into a sales opportunity are also 21 times more likely.

This research led to an industry wide acceptance of what commonly became known as the 5 minute rule.

Responding to this research in the modern selling and buying era.


Some 11 years later in 2018 Vanillsoft commissioned a significant piece of research that blasts apart the 5 minute rule mentioned above.

The relevance of this research should be seen in context of the developed digital and social media enviornment that your buyer now inhabits.

It seems logical that with the ocean of content that they are confronted with and the modest percentage they consume that this would have an impact on the buying journey and therefore the way sellers need to respond.

This research was significant in sample size, analysing 130 million sales interactions and 4 million web leads.

My key takeaways from this research

Your buyer is further down your sales funnel when they reach out to you because of the access they have to the content you create.

This means they are digesting your content and are receptive to a response from 5 minutes up to 60 minutes.

One hour you see a massive drop off and after 12 hours your chances of reaching a positive next step see a significant drop-off.

This research actually tells us that there is a comparison in that your likelihood for a successful outcome at the 5 minute mark as the 12 hours mark.

The key it appears is to respond to a lead between 20 and 60 minutes to increase your likelihood of a successful outcome.

People want a little time to consume the content and gather their thoughts before talking to a rep. I mean, you can call them right away but if you do you’re just killing your chances of advancing the sale.

Darryl Praill CRO – Vannilasoft
Data form the VanillaSoft commissioned research

Read the Speed-to-Lead Sales Guide from Vanillasoft

What you take away from this.

Both pieces of research have incredible insights that you’d be foolish to not consider in your response to an inbound sales lead.

The fact that you handling leads in a pre 2007 way and “getting round to them” can be overcome and Plan.Grow.Do. can help you understand your buyers buying journey better.

Three points to leave with you.

  • Know your customers buying journey because this ultimately is where you’ll find the answer
  • Behaving in a way that doesn’t match your buyer’s behaviour or expectations doesn’t cut it today.
  • The biggest reason for no sale is still no follow up and not following up when your customer invites you to follow up.
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