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Revving up your speed to lead

You walk into a restaurant and you're starving. You researched the place, read reviews, and you already know what you want to order. You walk up to the counter ... and there's nobody there.

Five minutes pass. Nothing happens. You hear activity in the kitchen, but no one seems in any hurry to greet you or take your order. Your excitement begins to dwindle, and after a few minutes, turns to frustration. You decide to take your business next door to a place that's at least willing to actually take your order. At least you won't be hungry anymore.

This experience is disappointing for everybody — and yet it's often what B2B customers experience when they knock knock on your website and nobody's there.

When a lead fills out a form on your site or signs up for a free account, they want to engage. They may be weeks into the research process or just starting to look — but they have purchase intent. This is your big moment to say "Hi!" in acknowledgment, meet their intent with answers and solutions, and establish a meaningful connection.

If you reach out at this time of express interest, you keep up the momentum and bring the lead closer to conversion — a promising start to your working relationship. If not, you risk losing that lead to busy days, other priorities, and your competitors.

Mastering speed to lead for B2B starts with a well-designed system. Your internal processes can ensure a better customer experience, so that you're not leaving great leads stranded at the counter, waiting for someone to take their order.

Why speed closes leads

Timing matters. Getting that right helps connect with leads on the value of your company, product, or service when they're most receptive. It's the intersection of when:

  • Prospects are experiencing a problem or challenge
  • They're actively looking for a solution
  • You're answering that need with a solution that can help

speed-timing

Getting the timing right is key to creating a smooth buying experience, increasing your chances of conversion.

The flip-side? As response time goes up, your chances of closing a lead go down. As Greg Poirier, president of CloudKettle, explains, there's a short half-life for leads, "Every minute that goes by that you haven't reached that person, the odds that they will actually talk to you just plummets."

The numbers tell the same story. Some studies state that failing to respond within five minutes can exponentially decline the likelihood that a lead will close (by more than 80%). Meanwhile, conversions are 391% more likely to happen if a sales rep responds to an inbound lead within a minute.

That's why speed to lead has become a mainstream metric for sales teams, measuring how long it takes for sales to get to the first touch. Greg recommends that your sales team respond to inbound leads in under 15 minutes.

The big speed bump: lack of data

Since leads don't come in with full context right away, they can't get into the right sales hands in a prioritized, organized way without extra work.

Often all that businesses reliably get are a name and email address, maybe a field or two more. Forms often require minimal information to increase the chances of conversion. Even if your form has required fields, there's no guarantee that the user-provided information will be correct, as people often just want to get through the form. So data beyond the name and email also has to be verified, made consistent, and further researched.

Without enough context about your leads, you have to rely on manual research and qualification. Sales reps waste time trying to figure out details, like what company a lead is from, how much of a fit an account is, and where they're located, all before getting to work leads. The whole process is slow and, thanks to the human element introducing errors and variances in judgment, inconsistent. So even reps start to work leads, they may not be the right ones.

Meanwhile time doesn't stop in the prospects' minds. Ideally, you want leads that come in to get profiled, processed, and the right ones sent to SDRs in an instant.

Getting the right leads to sales in time

For the right leads to get to the right salesperson quickly every time — leads have be processed automatically. And automation relies on consistent data, which you can achieve with real-time enrichment. With just an email address or domain, Clearbit provides over 85 demographic and firmographic data points — enabling instant lead scoring and lead routing.

Let's walk through how this works. Imagine that a lead fills out a form on your site to request a product demo.

Without enrichment, the form on the left is trying to gather more useful information like company size, industry, and the prospect's goal and timeline. Adding more fields reduces the chances of conversion and the data gathered isn't guaranteed to be true and may still require more manual vetting and research.

With enrichment, the form can stay simple, asking only for contact information and qualitative questions around their needs. Once the lead submits the form, their profile will automatically be enriched with demographic and company information, including standard work-related data fields of interest to most B2B organizations, like:

  • Company name
  • Role seniority
  • Industry and subindustry
  • Company size (total employees)
  • Location
  • Technology used
  • Funding raised
  • Annual revenue

Automated lead scoring can then direct leads who aren't ready to talk to sales to be nurtured, while automated lead routing can instantly get leads to the right rep according to your territory rules. Your sales team will also always have full context on their leads, giving them a head start to follow up quickly and jump straight into the meat of the sales conversation.

Providing a smoother buying experience

While automated lead scoring and routing helps accelerate the process internally, you can also fast-track the buyer's experience. You don't always need to reach out one-on-one, manually to provide great service. Consider adding elements like:

Chat on-site

Engage with a qualified lead who visits your site with live chat within seconds. You can selectively launch live chat only when you detect a qualified company, so you don't open the conversation floodgates for every visitor.

Intercom messenger setting based on Clearbit Reveal data

Or welcome target accounts and ideal customers with a personalized message, opening up a channel to get their questions answered and interest registered, without having to fill out a form.

Personalized Drift chat example

Email automation

When a lead fills out a form or signs up for a free account, send an email quickly to acknowledge their needs, send any relevant information about your product — and if you detect a fit — provide availability to book a meeting.

Here's an example email, triggered after someone signs up for a Clearbit account, personalized with details from enriched data:

personalized sales outreach post-signup

Self-serve demo

While you may build a demo instance or recorded walk-through video to give leads a chance to self-serve information about the product — you can also automate and speed up parts of the process of requesting a demo too.

For instance, you can use a chatbot to handle demo scheduling for qualified leads right away:

Intercom chatbot example shown to enterprise

The conversation intelligence platform, Gong, even baked a call-scheduling step into their signup flow. They used Clearbit Enrichment and Chili Piper to enrich, qualify, and route inbound leads instantly so that their best-fit prospects could book a meeting time right away.

This generated hundreds of qualified opportunities and contributed to the increase in the number of demo requests by 5X. (If you’re looking for some sales operations inspiration, read how they did it here.)

How does your current process stack up?

Using the 15-minute response-time goal as your benchmark, how do you stack up? Are you taking a long time to respond to leads? If response times are slow, break down what your inbound sales process looks like to figure out how to get faster.

Consider adding standardized workflows, such as a system that flags ideal inbound leads and automatically alerts sales reps. Or add better data from solutions like Clearbit Enrichment and Reveal as a foundation for building automated systems.

Chances are, you're paying to bring more qualified leads to your site — and slow response times could be costing you. Dedicating effort to mastering speed to lead in the short-term can help you uncover opportunities to improve your process, while helping your sales organization become more efficient, effective, and sustainable. Build out a solid response system to drive conversions, save money, and win high-quality customers.

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