It’s true–timing is everything.

Especially when it comes to potential customers who have expressed an interest by visiting your website, filling out a form, or leaving a phone message.

Small businesses often make the mistake of putting these potential leads in a “to be contacted” file for follow-up within a few days. This, however, significantly impacts the success rate of connecting to these prospects and catching them when they’re still interested.

Dead or alive

Larger corporations make it even harder on themselves by filtering these leads through a marketing department who may store the information until there is a set large enough to “warrant” passing it to sales…and after 1-2 weeks–or more–have passed, the lead is practically dead.

Studies show that contacting a lead within five minutes of a form submittal gives you an 80% chance of connecting and a high likelihood of making a good impression. Though it may not sound like a lot of time, waiting thirty minutes to contact the lead decreases your chances of connecting and making a good impression by a whopping 10X!

Waiting an entire hour decreases the chance of connecting and making a good impression even more. What’s worse, waiting more than twenty hours makes it unlikely that you will connect at all–and more likely that you’ll actually make a bad impression. Waiting more than twenty hours to follow up with a prospect means your efforts may actually hurt the potential of that lead rather than help it!

Our lives move quickly, and a lot can happen in a short period of time. What we had to have just thirty minutes ago can now wait–we’ve moved on, are in a meeting, or working on a project that needs our full attention.

This is especially true with prospects who work late, nights and weekends, or work virtually, such as those in IT. These folks want answers–whether it’s a quote or information–and they want instant response so they can check it off their list.

As difficult as this may seem, you can take advantage of these findings and reap significant rewards by setting up some simple process changes, such as call forwarding and an instant messaging application for your website.

More than the physical change in processes, a mental shift will make all the difference in not putting off today what can be taken care of tomorrow.