As a consumer, one of my biggest pet peeves is the fact that most small business do not respond to inquiries. I’ve lost count, both personally and professionally, on how many times I’ve reached out to a business, only to never receive a response. We are talking anything from questions about a product or solution to direct buying questions on pricing and delivery timeframes—and yet, nothing… There is nothing that will guarantee a loss of business more than simply not following up on an inquiry.
With so many small businesses struggling to grow or keep their doors open, it still amazes us the staggering amount of businesses that ignore inquiries… The concept is not lost on us, that back in the day there was a heck of a lot less competition, and if you were truly good at what you did, there was a strong chance you were the only game in town and prospective buyers were practically knocking down your doors for business. Your brand and lack of competition essentially meant there were no real rivals. So, it would be in the best interest of a buyer to chase you down for work… But, that is no longer the case. The internet and services such as Google, Facebook, Yelp, Angie’s List, and others have all drastically changed the playing field. This means you are no longer the only game in town and that your competition is only one click of a mouse away, literally… What this really boils down to is the fact that if you are not responding to a request for information within minutes of submission, you are exponentially more likely to lose that business to a competitor. Don’t believe us? Here are a few statistics about response time in relationship to closing business:
- 78% of customers buy from the first responder.
- Sales conversions are 391% higher in the first minute.
- Taking longer than 5 minutes to respond amounts to an 80% decrease in lead qualification.
- Companies that respond within the first hour were 7x more likely to qualify that lead than companies that waited beyond an hour.
- Prospective buyers fill out 3-5 lead forms on average.
- Calling a lead more than 5 minutes after a lead submission has a 46% lower qualification rate than calling in less than 5 minutes.
- More than 65% of all conversions occur on the first call.
- Odds of the lead entering the sales process, or becoming qualified, are 21 times greater when contacted within 5 minutes rather than 30 minutes after the lead was submitted.
- Research from InsideSales.com shows that 35–50% of sales go to the vendor that responds first.
- A rep is 100x less likely to make contact if the first call is made 30 minutes after submission. The odds of making contact drop by 3000x if the first call is made 5 hours after lead submission.
- Increasing response rates from 27% to 92% causes a 314% lift in results.
- If a lead is called within five minutes versus 30 minutes after it’s submitted, that lead is 100 times more likely to be contacted and 21 times more likely to enter the sales cycle.
At the fundamental base of these stats is that you have to respond to inquiries, and obviously, the faster the better… and we are not talking about just email and voicemail either. Services such as Google, Facebook, Yelp, Angie’s List and the countless other services have made it so that prospective buyers can reach out to vendors on a multitude of platforms. This really means if you are not on the proper platforms for your industry, you are losing out on more business than you really know about. Also, these services do something else that makes a prospective buyer’s life easier: they create neatly formatted lists of businesses that provide specific products and services for buyers. These lists include you and all of your competition, making the statistics above all the more dramatic… Prospective buyers will take their neatly formed lineup and just call down the list one company at a time. Unfortunately, many in that list may never respond, making the first business to speak to a buyer exponentially more likely to win that business. It’s not because they are better, cheaper, or smarter but because they were most likely the only one a prospective buyer could speak too.
Beyond responding, there is another aspect that all but guarantees someone to lose a prospective buyer’s business: lack of follow-through. Some businesses and salespeople are absolutely fantastic with responding to initial requests for information, but they fall flat on follow-through and never provide what they said they will as a follow-up from the initial discussion. Not providing a prospective buyer the information they are looking for will guarantee they will not buy from you.
At the end of the day, in order for some businesses to grow, you simply need to put a little more effort into monitoring the various mediums in which a perspective buyer could contact the business and respond to inquiries as fast as humanly possible. In many cases, it is just that simple to see measureable gains in revenue. However, if you wanted to go the extra mile, businesses need to remember that you have to put effort into your online presences to be found by these prospective buyers. We wrote an article about this not too long ago: The Importance of Having an Online Digital Presence for Local Small Businesses and you can always contact us directly for help at 3SixtySMB@3SixtySMB.com.