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Why fast lead responses are the key to winning conversions in a competitive market

Sales staff should know the expectations regarding lead response times.

How long does it take your sales staff to respond to a lead? An hour, a day, a week? And is the answer wishful thinking or a verified number?

If you do indeed know the actual response time, you’re halfway to a better handling of leads. But most sales-oriented businesses, like dealerships, aren’t prepared for what it takes to convert leads in today’s competitive environment.

Let’s get some eye-opening statistics about lead response times out of the way.

  • Among all industries, it takes an average of 47 hours for a lead to receive a response, according to Forbes.
  • In addition, Forbes also reports that 27% of leads never get a response at all.

Yes, most dealers use digital lead management tools that never let this happen. However, the typical interaction with a business sets expectations for consumers that can easily be exceeded by forward-thinking dealerships.

Here’s more of what consumers are used to, based on a 433-company survey conducted by Drift, a marketing and sales services firm.

Put simply, dealers can come across as customer-focused by immediately responding to leads. And here’s why that matters.

  • The ideal response time for following up on a lead is five minutes, according to InsideSales.com. The probability of reaching that consumer falls by eight times if contact is made outside those first few minutes.
  • Meanwhile, the Harvard Business Review grants a more generous one-hour response time to be seven times more likely to have a worthwhile conversation with a decision-maker.

ServiceBell chimes in with more reasons why fast lead response times are essential.

  • 82% of inquiring consumers expect to get a response within 10 minutes.
  • 72% of customers make a purchase because of a quality experience
  • A one-minute response time means up to 391% more conversions

Why fast lead response times matter: The big picture

With the metrics out of the way, let’s talk more broadly about why reaching out right away to leads is essential to a dealer’s bottom line.

Stay competitive

It’s no secret that today’s consumers expect immediate engagement; they’ll go elsewhere if this attention is lacking. And any loyalty only lasts until needs are no longer being met. Finding another dealer is just a click away.

So, a fast lead response prevents (or at least delays) a consumer from going elsewhere, demonstrates the value of their time, and proves you’re meeting their needs from the beginning.

Improve conversions

Customers contact dealers for a reason; they’re interested in buying cars. But you’ll never know if this is a burning desire or a slow-motion sale until there’s a return contact. By responding rapidly, a dealer can take advantage of this interest and convert these leads into car buyers before they lose interest or go shopping at a different dealership.

Build trust

Car shopping dials up the skepticism factor among many consumers, but this can be overcome by a fast response. Being attentive proves you’re there to meet customer needs and provide the attention and appreciation they crave. These are foundational measures for closing a sale and building long-term relationships.

Steps for a fast lead response plan

A few actions can get your dealership on a plan for quicker lead responses.

  • Set Expectations: Sales staff should know the expectations regarding lead response times. And while a five-minute response time isn’t realistic 24/7, established standards help guide the way.
  • Use Technology: Chatbots, live-chat functionality (including video chats), and auto-response emails are just some tools available to ramp up response times and lead engagement. Conduct an audit to see if your operation could benefit from additional technology.
  • Track Response Times: Add one more metric to your measurements: lead response time. You’ll be able to spot any gaps (and who’s causing them) and determine how conversion rates are impacted by response times.

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David Goldberg
David Goldberg
David Goldberg is a contributing writer and reporter for CBT News. He brings a unique combination of dealership experience, a lifelong love of automobiles, and a journalism background to his writing for CBT News. He has a BA in journalism from The George Washington University.

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