My wife and I are In the middle of purchasing a new home. Since we had to arrange for insurance coverage on the house, I thought this would be a good time to re-evaluate our auto policy. About three weeks ago I called four local agents, including our current agent, for quotes and completed an on-line questionnaire to see if quotes from agents who compete for business generated by an internet site would be more competitive.
I completed the on-line questionnaire on a Thursday and almost as soon as I submitted it I received calls from two agents—one local, the other out of Austin. I didn’t receive any other calls from the on-line form until Tuesday of the following week when I received one. I was contacted by another insurance agent on Wednesday and then two more on Thursday—fully a week after submitting the questionnaire. They were way too late as I had decided by Tuesday to stay with my current insurance company.
But the calls from agents haven’t stopped.
I received calls from nine agents the following week and by seven more agents the third week.
To date, I’ve received calls from 22 agents–which should have given me every opportunity to acquire the best policy/rate combination possible. Except only two agents responded to my inquiry in a timely manner. Twenty agents or marketing departments had no sense of urgency in following up with my inquiry and consequently had no chance of acquiring my business.
Only two out of twenty-two agents had a strong enough desire to make a sale that they found a way to contact me quickly. That’s pathetic.
But that’s hardly the only case of lethargy I’ve encountered lately.
We’re getting the carpets cleaned in our current residence when we move. As with insurance, I called multiple carpet cleaning companies to get quotes. I called six companies on a Tuesday and immediately spoke to one and had my voice mail returned the same day by another. Another company called me Wednesday. I heard from the fourth on Friday and the fifth the following Tuesday. I have yet to hear from the sixth company. I had made my mind up by Wednesday afternoon on which company to hire. Fully 50% of the companies I called never had a chance to get the business because they did not respond quickly enough to be in the running.
Should I give a third or even fourth example? I experienced the same issues hiring a home inspector and trying to arrange for a paint contractor. In both cases over 50% of the companies I contacted either have not responded or responded after I had hired one of their competitors.
In all four cases I believe I’ve acted as most consumers would—I made the inquiry and made my decision within two to five days. Those who reacted promptly competed for my business; those who either because of a lack of a sense of urgency or because their marketing department or sales manager didn’t get them the lead in a timely manner lost the opportunity to make a sale and squandered their marketing dollars.
A quality lead has a very short shelf-life—whether we’re talking about the retail situations above or a long sales cycle, sophisticated product or service. Someone–you or your company–has paid good money to get the phone to ring, to get a lead card mailed back, or get a form filled out on the internet. Every minute you wait to contact a prospect is a minute you’re giving the competition to close the deal before you even get there.
If leads come to you directly, discipline yourself to respond to them immediately. If they come through your sales manager or marketing department and you know that they are slow to distribute them, light a fire under their butts.
There is simply no excuse to lose sales because a lead wasn’t contacted in a timely manner; nevertheless, there are a large number of sellers and companies who have no sense of urgency, giving those who are quick to respond a significant—and likely decisive–advantage.
What about you? Where is your sense of urgency?