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Why Your Speed to Lead Is Hurting Your Pipeline

Why Your Speed to Lead Is Hurting Your Pipeline
Stephen Williams
September 30, 2021

Did you know that 78% of customers buy from the company that responds to them first?

Your speed to lead time within your sales organization is essential to the overall success of your business. However, according to a Harvard Business Review study of over 2,200 U.S. companies, they found that 24% of businesses took more than 24 hours to respond. Even worse —23% of companies never responded at all!

As the current Director of Business Development here at Demodesk, I knew we needed to increase our speed to lead time exponentially. Our past lead process had the tendency to be slow, time-consuming, and very manual.

lead automation: 78% of customers buy from the company that responds to them first

Lead automation helped our Sales Development Reps cut down on manual tasks and gave them more useful information when qualifying a lead. This in turn brought us greater results.

I wanted to share the insights we learned throughout the automation of our lead process, as well as some tips for how to improve your own speed to lead time.

In this article, we’ll reveal the secrets to increasing your speed to lead time by going through main points like:

  1. Finding areas to improve in your lead process
  2. Common challenges with ineffective lead processes
  3. Assessing your lead process
  4. Rebuilding & automating your lead process
  5. Additional aspects to improving your process

Let’s dive in.

Finding areas to improve in your lead process

Automation helps increase rep response time which boosts the chances of converting a prospect to a lead. For example, lead conversions are 391% higher if a rep reaches out within a minute of an inquiry. Through lead automation, this time frame can become far more plausible and sustainable for your reps.

automate scheduling workflows and CRM logging

In our experience here at Demodesk, we knew we wanted to transform the lead process and increase those conversion numbers. Here were some areas where we noticed automation could improve the process:

  • Processing leads
    When leads would come in, the processing system we had in place was tedious and prone to human error. With automation, processing leads can become standardized. This adjustment makes the system more effective, accurate, and scalable for future growth.
  • Length of the process
    Leads were taking hours —if not days — to get into the hands of SDRs due to our manual process. If the first step of your sales process is labor-intensive, then the entire cycle is slowed down. SDRs need to easily access their leads, which is where automation can speed up the process.
  • Speed to lead time
    Aside from a more efficient process, we also knew that increasing the speed to lead time was a top priority for us. Automating certain tasks for your SDRs can cut down on the amount of time it takes to respond to leads.

Knowing the exact areas for improvement will help you determine which software to implement into your sales cycle. Focus on integrating automation only where it will enhance your operation.

Common challenges with ineffective lead processes

Every company has different sales cycles with various processes. However, you may find that some of your challenges are similar to the ones we faced here at Demodesk. If you are having trouble with your lead process, you might be seeing these issues:

  • Loss in opportunities
    An inefficient and error-prone system means losing potential opportunities and prospects. When your process is not predictable or consistent, then you’re more likely to lose business in the long term.
  • Not scalable for growth
    One of the most important aspects of scaling is ensuring your processes are reproducible and sustainable. Processes that are manual and tedious are less likely to be dependable over time.
  • Inconsistent lead assignment
    We would have to manually assign leads as they came in, which meant there was a greater chance of human error. This can lead to an unfair assignment process and therefore frustration amongst reps.

These are only a few of the common challenges that we came across on our road to automating the lead process. Make sure to specify which obstacles your organization is facing before determining the right automation solution.

Assessing your lead process

The first step to solving a lead process problem is to understand why your current system is not working. Utilize your sales data and feedback from your reps to critique your current structure. This allows you to hone in on your team’s specific pain points.

Analyzing your data

Review your internal system and highlight the specific barriers for your team. Thoroughly analyze your data for a well-rounded view of your process. This includes assessing your sales productivity numbers, KPIs, and YOY revenue data.

For us, we quickly realized that our current lead response process was not productive for our SDRs. The manual nature of our system was our main challenge, so we had to incorporate an automated process to grow and scale effectively.

In short, our process meant a two-hour time frame from a website inquiry to contact by our sales team. This is not the most successful sales strategy. Unless you can connect to someone within the first five minutes, you are much less likely to convert them into a customer.

Lead conversions are 391% higher if a rep reaches out within a minute of an inquiry

Furthermore, this likelihood drops even more with each minute that passes without a response. In fact, if you call a lead within five minutes, it is 21x more effective than if you call after 30 minutes. That’s a huge jump for a difference of just 25 minutes!

This kind of delay can have an even larger impact on overall business as well. When too much time passes, it becomes harder to get prospects interested in your product. As a result, they will turn to a competitor's product if they offer a quicker response time.

Pinpointing other roadblocks

When reviewing your lead process for areas of improvement, note any other obstacles that are impacting your speed to lead time. Specifically, the areas of the process where you are losing valuable time connecting with your leads.

With our process, we noticed these additional roadblocks:

  • Delay in Account Updates
    Not only did all lead information have to be entered into our CRM, but our team also had to manually update the account as it moved through each stage. This led to delays in up-to-date account information.
  • Duplicate Leads
    SDRs would need to double-check for duplicates every time they received a lead. This also meant they needed to clean their leads regularly. Instead of focusing on sales, they would have to spend their time on these types of admin tasks.
  • Quality
    With our process, it became clear that our SDRs were having a difficult time determining the quality of their leads. They would need to manually verify every lead within various systems before they could move forward.

Rebuilding & automating your lead process

The first step for our system overhaul was to invest in sales automation software that solved our specific challenges.

Choose the right automation tools

Make sure the tech stack you choose can seamlessly integrate into your sales process. We decided to implement the following programs based on our specific needs & challenges:

  • LinkedIn Sales Navigator
    LinkedIn Sales Navigator is one of the most popular automation programs on the market. This software includes advanced lead search and company filter options, along with AI-automated recommendations & insights.
  • lane four
    This program integrates with our CRM (Salesforce) and can automatically mass convert leads to contacts. Now, our reps can spend less time cleaning duplicate accounts and entering client information.

    In addition, it automatically assigns leads to our SDRs, which means there is less chance of human error and a fairer process overall.
  • Demodesk
    Demodesk’s scheduling feature helps speed up the booking process of the first meeting. It also helps you set up your pitch deck, so you can convert the first meeting with high-quality opportunities.
book meetings in seconds with automated scheduling and lead routing
  • Zoominfo
    Along with the other programs, Zoominfo improves the qualification of our leads. This program holds more helpful data about companies, which enriches the quality of our customer information.
  • Outreach
    This software focuses on optimizing an outreach strategy for a smarter and more effective sales process. Outreach utilizes email testing capabilities which allow reps to determine which approach and content will deliver the best results.

Analyze the results

The results we’ve seen from implementing these programs have been quite impressive. Through lead automation, our process has been reduced from two hours to just five minutes!

Here are some of the improvements we’ve witnessed with lead automation:

  • Our speed to lead is 24x faster. The leads are getting to our SDRs quicker and more efficiently.
  • Leads are now automatically converted to contacts. This change gives our SDRs up to two hours of their time back a week!
  • Data is higher quality and cleaner — not to mention less potential for human error.
  • Marketing now has a fully automated staging process.
  • SLA is now under one hour for new sign-ups.
  • Our conversion rate from lead qualification to opportunity has improved from 17% to 35%.

Overall, with our new lead automation process, we are more likely to convert prospects into opportunities. We can also focus on bringing in more revenue at a quicker rate.

Additional aspects to improving your process

Automation is only a piece of the puzzle that enables our team to work more efficiently. Coaching and training our SDRs properly has also been essential to the overall improvement of our process.

We’ve worked on enhancing our coaching methods, as well as our onboarding and training structures. We also have devoted slack channels to help our reps and believe in knowledge sharing between departments.

A combination of these factors has led to an increase in the speed to lead time for our SDRs.

However, this process is still not finished. With new technologies and objectives, these processes will change over time. But focusing on contacting your customers as soon as they are showing interest is critical to building a successful revenue team.

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