7 Ways to Boost Speed to Lead

Speed to Lead is becoming a vital indicator of new business success. This article, plus several of our past (and planned) CRM MasterClasses are aimed at helping you to reduce your lead response times.

Below, I’ll discuss what the optimal lead response time is, before providing my top 7 tips for how to use Zoho CRM to boost your speed to lead. But firstly, let’s look at the evidence behind this assertion that speed to lead really is important.

Why is Speed to Lead Important?

When researching this article, I came across a wealth of ‘data’, much of which was of dubious provenance or authenticity. Typically, it referred to online retail businesses in the USA, which may not match what you do. Most of our clients are UK B2B businesses, often providing services. Nevertheless, I do believe that the trend is appropriate for all businesses, even if the precise numbers used are not. Where I can find credible sources, I’ve linked to them.

Studies indicate that the quicker a company responds to a lead, the higher the chances of conversion. A Harvard Business Review study found that companies that respond to leads within an hour are 7 times more likely to have meaningful conversations with decision-makers than those that take longer.

However, the Harvard Business Review study also noted that only 37% of businesses responded within the hour. Ricochet 360 also says the average response time for web leads is 17 hours. (others cite 47 hours!) Since the average business doesn’t seem to respond within the first hour (or even the first day), it’s obvious that many sales teams are missing out on plenty of business opportunities. Are you?

Here’s a list of other ‘data’ I’ve seen, with dubious authenticity, but worth a look, all the same.

Here’s a list of other ‘data’ I’ve seen, with dubious authenticity, but worth a look, all the same.

  • The average lead response time is 47 hours.
  • Only 27% of leads get contacted at all.
  • Rapid responders win up to 50% of sales.
  • A 1-minute response time can lead to 391% more conversions.
  • The likelihood of reaching shoppers within five minutes is 10 times higher than if you were to let 10 minutes elapse.
  • Calling after 30 minutes is 21 times less effective.
  • Businesses that respond within an hour are almost seven times more likely to have meaningful conversations with decision-makers.
  • 82% of consumers expect responses within 10 minutes.
  • Businesses get a 15% churn increase with slow lead response times.
  • Less than 25% of businesses respond to web leads via phone.
  • Timing your emails right can increase conversions by 49%.
  • 71% of clients have made purchases based on “experience quality”.

What’s the Optimal Lead Response Time?

According to insidesales.com, the optimal lead response time is 5 minutes or less.

Another way to look at this is to ensure that you always respond faster than your competitors, because if you lose an opportunity, it’s like that someone else has won it.

Of course there are different ways to respond. Phone calls are ideal, as chances are the person making the enquiry is probably doing so on their phone or sat at a desk. But if you don’t have anyone available, why not send an automated email in response to all enquiries, to buy a little time? (More on this topic below). Overall, you need to drive efficiency in lead responses, just as with all other aspects of your business.

7 Ways to Boost Speed to Lead

1. Automate Lead Assignment

One of the primary benefits of using Zoho CRM is the ability to automate lead assignments. This feature ensures that leads are distributed evenly among your sales team without delay. By setting up rules and criteria, leads can be automatically assigned to the most appropriate sales representative based on factors like territory, product interest, or lead score. This immediate allocation reduces the waiting time for the lead and accelerates the initial contact process.

Implementation Tip: Utilise Zoho CRM’s workflow automation to set up lead assignment rules. Customise the criteria to match your business needs and ensure that every lead is promptly directed to the right salesperson.

2. Implement Email and Phone Integration

Integrating email and phone systems with Zoho CRM streamlines communication and centralises lead interactions in one place. This integration allows sales representatives to make calls and send emails directly from the CRM, reducing the time spent switching between platforms. It also ensures that all communication is logged and accessible, facilitating quicker follow-ups and better customer engagement.

Implementation Tip:  Set up Zoho CRM’s telephony integration with popular VoIP services and configure email templates for common responses. This setup will enable your team to respond more efficiently and consistently to leads.

3. Use Qualification and/or Lead Scoring

Not all leads are created equal. Some leads are more likely to convert than others, and identifying these high-potential leads quickly can significantly impact your response time. Zoho CRM’s lead scoring feature helps prioritise leads based on predefined criteria such as engagement level, demographic information, and interaction history. By focusing on high-scoring leads first, your sales team can respond more swiftly to those with the highest potential for conversion.

Implementation Tip: Regularly review and update your lead scoring criteria in Zoho CRM to reflect changing market conditions and customer behaviours. This will help ensure that your scoring remains accurate and effective. You can be as fancy as you like with your lead scoring, just remember it has to work for your business and your team. At Inner Core Solutions we stick with the simple hot/warm/cold qualification. Hot leads  (from advertising or referral) should get a call straight away, warm and cold ones (bought lists) get placed on a schedule of lead nurturing content before being directly approached. See below, also previous blogs and videos.

4. Enable Real-Time Notifications

Timely information is critical for reducing lead response times. Zoho CRM offers real-time notifications that alert sales representatives as soon as a new lead is captured or an existing lead takes a significant action, such as downloading a whitepaper or attending a webinar. These instant notifications allow your team to act quickly, making initial contact while the lead’s interest is at its peak.

Implementation Tip: Configure your Zoho CRM settings to enable push notifications on both desktop and mobile devices. This ensures that your sales team is always in the loop, no matter where they are.

5. Use Lead Nurturing Sequences

Lead nurturing sequences are a smart way to manage leads by setting up automatic (and dynamic) email sequences that keep them warm and feed relevant information to them. You define the most relevant time periods for the sequence and create easy drag-and-drop workflows to build them.

Implementation Tip: Lead nurturing was covered in one of our CRM MasterClasses, Learn How to Boss Lead Management. Also, by some other blogs and videos on this site.

6. Utilise AI-Powered Sales Assistants

Zoho CRM’s AI-powered sales assistant, Zia, can be a game-changer for boosting lead response times. Zia can analyse lead data to provide insights, suggest the best times to contact leads, and even automate routine tasks. By leveraging AI, your sales team can focus on high-value activities and respond to leads more quickly and effectively.

Implementation Tip: Regularly train Zia using your CRM data to improve its accuracy and recommendations. The more data Zia processes, the better it can assist your sales team in reducing response times.

7. Monitor and Manage Speed to Lead

To reduce your lead response times, you need to know where you’re at. Look at your response times regularly to make sure they’re on target. Also, try to work out how your response times are affecting your business metrics. For example, your conversion rates may increase as your response times decrease.

Tracking response times for individual sales team members can also help you boost your speed to lead by revealing who may need additional training or support.

Implementation Tip: Measuring speed to lead is not an out-of-the-box feature of Zoho. You’ll need to create your own methods, with workflows, blueprint and/or custom fields. Get some ideas from this MasterClass or contact us to discuss further.

If you have any questions or would like some assistance in setting up any of these suggestions, please don’t hesitate. Contact us now for a suitably speedy response!


In conclusion, it’s the businesses that respond to leads the fastest that are most likely to win new business. Yes, it’s competitive. To boost speed to lead, use Zoho CRM to automate where possible, score leads and push the best ones to your sales team. Cooler leads can be managed initially with lead nurturing sequences. Also, tracking lead generation data and response times will help manage and minimise your speed to lead.



Related Posts

Zoho CRM

7 Ways to Boost Speed to Lead

Speed to Lead is becoming a vital indicator of new business success. Article shows you how to use Zoho CRM to reduce lead response times and win more business.

Read More »
We're Here For You

We want to hear from you. Fill in your details, leave a short message and we’ll contact you shortly.