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February 20, 2023

Speed to lead: What is it and how do you improve it?

Speed to lead is the time it takes for a business to respond to a lead after they have shown interest in the business's product or service. The goal of speed to lead is to respond to leads as quickly as possible, ideally within minutes of their initial inquiry, in order to maximize the chances of converting that lead into a customer.

Speed to lead is a critical component of effective lead management and can have a significant impact on a business's sales and marketing success. Research has shown that the faster a business responds to a lead, the more likely that lead is to convert into a customer.

There are several ways that businesses can improve their speed to lead, including:

Organizing your sales team

The responsibilities of a sales team can be simplified as creating and closing deals. In order to prevent one from cannibalizing the other, many organization have two roles under sales

  • Business Development roles are focused on sourcing and creating opportunities
  • Account Executive roles are focused on selling to new and existing customers

Companies that separate these roles can improve speed-to-lead by allowing Business Development personnel to free up their time to respond to incoming leads.

Automating lead distribution

By using lead distribution software, businesses can automatically route leads to the appropriate sales or marketing personnel, reducing the time it takes to respond to a lead.

Common features of lead distribution software include:

  • Assignment rules to decide which leads should be assigned to different representatives
  • Territories to assign leads to representatives based on the location they sell to
  • Weighting to assign a different number of leads to representatives within your sales team
  • Capping to limit the number of leads assigned to a representative
  • Time off to pause representatives when they are out of the office
  • Hourly schedules to pause representatives if they work certain hours and days of the week

These features allow organizations to ensure that every lead is assigned and responded to and that none slip through the cracks.

Using sales sequences and templates

By using pre-written sequences and templates, businesses can respond to leads quickly and efficiently.

  • Sequences allow HubSpot users to send a series of timed email templates to engage with leads as well as tasks to remind them to follow up.
  • Templates allow HubSpot users to save repetitive emails while personalizing and tailoring the content for the recipient.

This allows representatives to free up their time from monotonous or tedious tasks allowing them to focus on adding value throughout the sales process. Sales automation tools like sequences and templates also allow businesses to standardize and measure the efficacy of their sales process at scale.

Implementing a lead response SLA

By having a dedicated team that is responsible for responding to leads, businesses can ensure that leads are responded to quickly and efficiently, but there still needs to be a level of accountability. A Service Level Agreement or SLA can build accountability and establish protocols related to

  • Buyer personas to understand how to engage with leads effectively 
  • Lead stages to meet leads where they are in the buying process
  • Shared goals to ensure that sales activity ties back to business success
  • Lead handoff to prepare to respond to leads within a given window of time
  • Lead management to progress leads through the sales process

SLAs should be dynamic so build in time to review SLAs as a team to maintain alignment. 

The Takeaway

Overall, speed to lead is a critical component of effective lead management and can have a significant impact on a business's sales and marketing success. By responding to leads quickly and efficiently, businesses can improve their conversion rates and increase their overall sales and revenue.

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Guido Bartolacci

Guido is Head of Product and Growth Strategy for New Breed. He specializes in running in-depth demand generation programs internally while assisting account managers in running them for our clients.


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