Deciding when, and how often, to contact leads can be enough to turn a marketer’s hair gray. All too often, deciding on a strategy can seem random. You ask: When should I call? Will I ever actually reach a real person? How often should I try? This type of calling strategy is usually deployed when a conversation needs to take place to articulate the value proposition and close the sale (obviously – as opposed to ecommerce).
In recent weeks I have outlined steps for a successful lead nurturing strategy, including the elements of strong communication and examples of top-notch B2B and B2C lead generation emails.
Today, I’ll go through some specific tactics on knowing when, and how often, to call leads.
Before I do, though, let me say that if you find it difficult, if not downright painful, to know the “right” strategy for when to contact a lead, you’re not alone. Most companies that I have talked with tend not to contact leads in any structured manner. Part of the failure is a lack of good information.
Tactic #1. Call within 5 minutes of initial contact
A study from InsideSales.com shows that the odds of contacting a lead by phone drops by 100x in the first 30 minutes.
In a B2B scenario, when a company is selling something that is a considered purchase, it is most effective to follow up by phone within 5 minutes of the initial contact.
In other words, if a prospect comes to your site and fills out a form, you should get that info into the hands of the sales team immediately.
Think about it: someone’s at their desk and they’ve just downloaded a white paper. The more time that goes by, the less likely they are to remember the interaction with your website. An hour later, and they’re in another meeting. Two days later, and they may have downloaded multiple other things from other sites. If you wait, you’re likely to have to remind them of what they were doing on your website in the first place.
Of course, it helps if you have a way to score the lead, so that you’re spending time calling only the good ones. That way, you don’t waste your time or theirs.
Tactic #2. Call early or late
The best time to call (according to the study) is between 8:00 and 10:00 in the morning, or between 4:00 and 5:00 in the afternoon.
It makes sense: when people arrive at work, they tend to take an hour or two to get organized and think through their day before they begin scheduling meetings. That’s a good time to catch them at their desks.
It’s the same for consumers: early, they tend to be at home getting ready for their day. By 10:00 or so, they’re out running errands, they’re getting kids to soccer games, and they’re less accessible.
Likewise, meetings tend not to be planned for late in the day, and you’re more likely to catch people at their desks, or at home.
Lunchtime is the worst time to reach people. In fact, calling between 4:00 and 5:00 gives you a 114% better chance of reaching a contact than calling between 11:00 and 12:00, according to InsideSales.com.
Tactic #3. Call on Wednesday or Thursday
Wednesdays and Thursdays tend to be the best days to contact a lead. The study shows that calling on a Thursday is 49.7 percent better than calling on Tuesday.
Tactic #4. Call up to four times (until you reach them), and send one email, in the first 24 hours.
Your CRM system needs a customized flag or field to remove the email automation so as to prevent the email being sent if you do reach them on the phone.
Companies that call at least four times within the first 24 hours, and who email at least once, have the best chance of successfully reaching prospects, according to the study.
Calls should be spaced every 2 to 3 hours (for B2B) and every 4 to 6 hours (B2C).
Tactic #5. Test these tactics
Bear in mind that these tactics should not be taken as a given. There may be different results for different companies, depending upon their prospects. Rather, use these suggestions as the beginning of a conversation within your company. Begin investigating to see when the most effective times and days are for your industry.
And remember, companies like InsideSales.com have auto-calibrating technology that will automatically optimize dialing, to find the best time and day to call. The technology begins to “learn” when connection rates are higher and when the sales rep is more likely to have a conversation lasting 20 seconds or more. Such tools can be enormously helpful in creating a successful lead nurturing strategy.
In future posts, I’ll share with you the results of a survey we did that looked at 500 companies to see how they did in terms of a response strategy for qualified leads. (The survey is likely to be representative of all of you reading this blog today.) We’ll also dive into best practices of lead scoring.
Next, I’ll share a long-term nurturing strategy, one which shows how often to contact a lead over several weeks.