Did you know 71 percent of leads generated are usually wasted?  Companies generally struggle with finding the best way to qualify and manage leads. Thanks to a recent study, we might have a solution.  Insidesales.com teamed up with the Harvard Business Review to compile 15,000 unique leads and 100,000 call attempts over three years from companies that respond to web-generated leads.  I, myself, took a look at the data in an attempt to determine how quickly and how often a sales rep should respond to leads and reduce the 71 percent of wasted leads.

Response Time

graph of contacts made from first dials

Image source: Insidesales.com blog

The study shows that typically, companies do not respond to their leads fast enough.  In fact, the average lead remains inactive for one to two days before receiving a  call back.  According to the report from Insidesales.com, “After 20 hours every additional dial your salespeople make actually hurts your ability to make contact to qualify a lead.”   Obviously sitting on leads is not the solution, so when should salespeople try and contact a lead?

The study found that “The odds of calling to contact a lead decrease by over 10 times in the first hour.”  Their research goes on to say that if you can call a lead back within five minutes of initial (digital) contact you are 10 times more likely to get in touch with a lead. So, why does response time have such an impact on results?

  1. We know where they are: if the lead just responded to an initial email or completed an inquiry, they are probably have not wandered too far from their phone or computer.
  2. Top-of-mind awareness:  The faster you are able to respond, the more likely it is that you will still be on their mind.  Do you remember every email you read two days ago?
  3. The “Wow Effect:” The faster you respond the more likely you will shock the lead with an unusual sense of hustle.


So you called the lead back at breakneck speeds, but no answer; how many times should you try and call before throwing in the towel?

graph showing average call attempts by sales representatives

Image source: Insidesales.com blog

About 85 percent of companies do not make enough follow-up calls and 30 percent of leads are never contacted.  Sales representatives average at 1.7 to 2.1 calls before giving up on the lead altogether.  By making just a few extra calls, reps could experience over a 70 percent increase in contact rate.  So what’s the magic number?  Each situation varies, but as a whole studies show making 8-12 contacts in a 10-14 day period will boast a 90 percent contact rate from all possible leads.

If this seems like a lot to keep up with, it is, but new tools are being created all the time to help sales reps keep up with their leads.  We now have a utility belt of helpful tools from automatic email response to a service that calls a lead within seconds of reading an email or completing an inquiry.  To learn more about when to contact leads and the tools at your disposal, visit Inside Sales.