Inbound lead follow-up (ultimate guide)


Inbound lead follow-up can make or break a business, yet it is not an often-talked about metric. Research shows that sales figures dramatically improve when inbound leads are followed up quickly and efficiently.

When looking at the data on this, it is clear that too many businesses are not taking this metric seriously enough. According to Harvard Business Review, the average inbound lead response time is 42 hours, far above the recommended one hour or less. And yet, HBR reported that only 37% of companies respond within the first hour.


Why is that?

  • Are sales teams hungry for revenue? We are sure they are.
  • Are sales teams overstretched? Most likely.
  • Are sales teams supported with the right technology tools? Probably not.



Why is inbound lead follow-up important?


Inbound lead follow-up is essential for any business, especially considering its direct correlation to sales. When inbound lead response time is prioritized, the business benefits. Let’s look at the top three reasons why inbound lead follow-up is vital for your business:


1. Higher sales conversion rate


You have worked hard at getting your marketing campaigns out there, and the sales queries are coming in. But if your inbound sales team is not responding within the sweet spot, they will most likely lose the sale to a competitor who was faster to reply.

A Salesforce study revealed that 78% of new business goes to the company that responds first. You will likely close the deal by prioritizing your inbound lead response time. It almost seems too simple. But the truth is, customers are ready to buy. Get there first, and you will likely convert that lead to a sale.


2. Increased revenue


When sales teams are equipped to respond to inbound leads efficiently and quickly, theyboost company revenue. Sales teams that respond within an hour are seven times more likely to qualify the lead than those that take two hours to respond. Respond in that perfect little window of time, and watch your revenue grow.


3. Happier customers


Everyone loves a happy customer. Happy customers are likely to spend more and refer your company to friends and family. Research confirms that acquiring a new customer is five times more costly than retaining an existing one. Keep your customers happy, and they will reward you with a lower cost per lead, increased repeat purchases and more referrals. And all this for only focusing on responding quickly and efficiently. Sounds like a bargain.


Inbound lead follow-up best practices


How should businesses treat inbound lead response time?


You do not want to sacrifice efficiency, accuracy and a personal touch in favour of speed only. Potential customers don’t just want fast; they also expect to enjoy the sales experience. Speed, friendliness, and efficiency must be balanced to provide the optimal customer experience.

Building an inbound lead response time strategy should include these best practices to achieve success:


1. Offer a personalised customer experience


We cannot treat all inbound leads the same. Depending on the channel used, the customer may have different expectations. Your business needs to be able to read the customer and understand the most appropriate way to respond.

For example, if a lead uses the contact me form on your website, they have explicitly requested a response. If you have a decent CRM system, you may be able to learn about this lead. Are they an existing customer? Have they expressed interest in a particular product? Are they a new lead?

Gathering as much information about the lead as possible will help ensure you offer a personalised customer experience. experience that is responsive to the customer.


2. Be quickest on the draw


As speed is often the deciding factor in the buyer’s decision-making process, it must be the first priority. How fast is fast enough? It depends on which channel generated the inbound lead and in which industry your business operates.

Customers have different lead response time expectations per channel. Understanding where the lead comes from will help you determine how quickly your sales team should respond.

Here is a breakdown per channel:

Emails: within an hour
Chat: 5 minutes or less
Live chat: less than a minute
Phone calls: less than 30 seconds

Lead response times also differ per industry. Compare your email lead response time per industry to understand your ideal average response time.

Setting benchmarks for your inbound leads will help your team track what needs to be responded to and when. Using the right technology tool enables you to automatically assign tasks and send alerts to remind sales reps to respond before the window of opportunity closes.


3. Talk like a human-being


No customer wants to interact with a cold, inhuman brand. Customers spend more and are more likely to repeatedly purchase when they feel connected with your brand. This requires businesses to craft responses that reflect their brand’s personality and help build customer rapport.

Sales teams should craft unique and on-brand opening paragraphs, closing paragraphs, next steps, and helpful information. These friendly templates allow sales teams to personalise each response quickly before firing it off to the customer.


4. Give added value


Every interaction with a lead is the chance to build a relationship and add value to their lives. Yes, you should be focused on responding to their query, but you can also add a little value while you are there. Do you have any helpful content you can share to assist them with their purchasing decision? Is there a personalised offer you can extend to help sweeten the deal?

Adding value to the customer experience can increase your chance of getting and retaining customers. A report by Deloitte reveals that customers are willing to spend 140% more after a positive experience than customers who report a negative experience. The lesson? Go the extra mile. It pays off.


5. Optimise your channels


One of the ways to impress a customer is to make it easy for them to find information. Not only will this give them a good brand experience, but it will also help them with their purchase decision. Ensure your website is concise and filled with all the information they may need. Consider a FAQs section to answer any repeated questions your sales team may field. If your customer has all the answers they need, they will be ready to purchase by the time they reach out to you. This saves your team time and headspace when they have hot leads prepared to buy.

Live chat is another great channel that offers your customers an easy way to contact you and receive immediate answers. According to Econsultancy, live chat has the highest satisfaction levels of any customer service channel, with 73% of consumers reporting a positive experience versus 61% for email and 44% for phone.


The current challenges of Inbound lead follow up


As consumers tighten their belts in reaction to rising inflation and market instability, they have become more discerning about where to spend their money. Equally, businesses operate with less staff, higher operating costs and more competition. Let’s face it, it is tough out there.

With a more discerning market base and less staff to nurture the leads that do come in, sales teams are finding themselves stretched thin. In these conditions, it is no surprise that some leads go cold before they are responded to, or that leads are not responded to appropriately.

Suppose your inbox is overflowing with queries and tasks. In that case, it can be hard to filter through them all to understand which leads require more attention and immediate priority. Unless leads are effectively filtered and assigned an appropriate SLA, it is unlikely the lead will receive the nurturing needed to convert.

Using a technology solution to support your sales team gives structure and visibility over your response time strategy. Assign deadlines, and send reminders to ensure they stay on top of their game despite the challenging conditions.


Optimising inbound lead follow-up with Ignite


timetoreply Ignite Gif


timetoreply Ignite is a tool for sales teams handling inbound email leads. timetoreply Ignite enables teams with visibility over their first reply time, reply rate, number of follow-ups per lead, and cadence/time between each follow-up. With this kind of visibility, teams can optimise their performance against set benchmarks and track their improvement over time.

A typical customer complaint is that sales teams appear disinterested. If a customer must nudge the sales team for a response, they will likely believe they are not crucial to your business. That is why timetoreply Ignite also tracks how often the prospect is nudging sales reps. This lets managers see which sales reps need more support to meet their reply time goals.




Frequently Asked Questions



timetoreply Ignite is quick and easy to install and requires no change to typical workflows. With simple integration to Outlook, Microsoft365, Gmail and Google Workspaces, timetoreply Ignite is one of the best ways for companies to boost revenue by beating competitors to the sales deal.


Any sales team handling inbound leads via email will benefit from using timetoreply Ignite. Businesses looking to supercharge their sales success and deliver a superior customer experience when acquiring and managing inbound leads can use timetoreply Ignite to respond quicker, more effectively, and edge ahead of competitors.


timetoreply Ignite features a detailed dashboard that allows you:

  • to track closed deals in real-time
  • to optimise the number and cadence of touches to drive more revenue
  • instant visibility of deal stages across all leads and by lead source
  • to track multiple lead sources
  • to see how your team members are performing in real-time
  • compare team members’ performance and watch their win rates soar



The best part? timetoreply Ignite works with Outlook/o365 and Gmail/Google Workspace, is easy and quick to install, requiring no change workflow.


Let’s get you started today, so you can have access to the email reporting analytics that will help optimise team performance.




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