Home Services Lead Generation: Phone Follow Up & Lead Gen Experience

By Todd BairstowAugust 17, 2015

Most of the online lead gen wizards I know are just that – online guys. But they haven’t taken the time – or haven’t been given the data – to know if their lead buyers are handling their leads properly and effectively.

This becomes particularly important when the term “quality” gets thrown into the mix.  Every lead provider wants to buy better quality leads.  And every seller thinks they generate that quality. But the reality is that even the highest quality leads (according to any definition) are subject to the call center and lead handling practices of the lead buyer.

That’s where things generally get murky for lead sellers. Here’s a quick set of factors involving call centers that greatly affect the performance of your leads, regardless of their “quality”.

Time to Response

In almost every case, the sooner a buyer responds to a web form lead with a phone call, the more likely that lead will turn into a sale or higher-value prospect. With our call center, we used to have a target of calling leads back in under 5 minutes. Now, we’re under 1 minute. We often reach leads back over the phone while they are still sitting at their computers.

This quick response time has three major benefits. First, it makes a great brand impression on the lead and says, “These guys value me and know what they’re doing.”  Second, quick response often stops that lead from moving on to a competitor. And, finally, fast phone response keeps the lead’s attention and focus – before they move on to any other topic or interest. Maintaining the lead’s momentum and mindshare is incredibly important.

From the lead seller’s perspective, it’s not enough to just ask if your buyer is calling the leads back. It’s a question of timing. A lead’s effectiveness usually starts plummeting minutes after a web form submission. The longer a buyer delays in making a call back, the less likely that lead will be to convert.  And that plays directly into the perception of your leads’ “quality.”

Average Wait Time
More and more lead buyers are interested in buying phone calls, or offering a call option to traditional online lead programs. And I am all for that. But this takes us to the next measure of your lead buyer’s phone performance, average wait time (also known as average hold time).

As a consumer, it’s incredibly frustrating to dial a company only to be put on hold. Yet, wait times of 2, 3, and even 5 minutes or more are common.

Long wait times present two problems to lead sellers. First, the longer the hold time, the higher the caller’s drop off rate is going to be. The lead simply runs out of patience and hangs up – and the call you drove has just lost all value.

Second, the longer the wait time, the less willing a lead is to convert. Callers get frustrated and sometimes angry when they are forced to wait too long. And that shift in attitude can turn a good prospect into a no-sale very quickly.

Tiered Phone Response
Large lead buyers often tier their call centers according to the ability of their reps. Here’s how it works.  A lead buyer who is buying thousands of leads per day from a variety of sources will have determined who their best call center agents are and put them in Tier A.  Their mid-level call reps go into Tier B. And newbies just learning the job go into Tier C.

You obviously want your leads to go to Tier A call center reps, who are going to turn your leads into sales at a greater rate than reps from Tier B and definitely Tier C.  Some buyers have a “Best leads to the Best reps” strategy.  You definitely want your leads to be in that category.  Asking about these dynamics can help set expectations and understand what happens once you send a lead to your buyer.

In Conclusion
Lead buyers will all say that their call centers are top notch.  For some that may be true. The one way to be sure is to call them yourselves, and track Time to Response and Average Wait Times. Then, collect the results and present them to your lead buyer when the time comes. 

Remember, their ability to handle your leads and calls has a direct reflection on you and your reputation. So don’t take it lightly. 

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