Why Timing is Critical in Lead Generation

In this day and age, people are used to having immediate access to everything. Thanks to technological advancements that make it possible for almost anything to happen in an instant, people are no longer willing to wait. They want it all, and they want it now.

B2B buyers are the same (because you know, they’re people, too). They expect fast and relevant communication. If your business doesn’t reach out with the right message at the right time, buyers will go elsewhere. Think about it—if you don’t respond to queries from your leads and follow-up immediately, you’re just giving your buyer time to explore other options and other companies.

According to a Harvard Business Review’s Lead Response Study, the average response time of B2B companies is 42 hours. It’s completely understandable that most buyers don’t want to wait that long.

  • 80% of B2B Buyers Expect Real-Time Interaction

According to research conducted by SalesForce, 80% of business buyers expect brands to communicate in real-time.

While the expectation varies by channel, 67% of B2B buyers expect an email reply within one hour, and we’re not talking about a “thank you” email. This is an actual personalized email response from a sales representative.

Further, 83% of buyers expect a response by SMS within one hour as well. Messaging apps are common nowadays, and 87% of buyers expect to be contacted within one hour through these platforms.

  • A Timely Response is the Most Valued Attribute in Customer Service

Interactive Intelligence Group’s Customer Experience Survey revealed that timely response is of higher importance to buyers than efficiency, professionalism, effective follow-up, and knowledgeable sales agents. This goes to show that being quick to respond trumps being good at your job. I know, it’s crazy, but the numbers don’t lie.

  • Every Minute That Passes After Lead Submission Decreases Your Chances of Converting the Lead Into a Sale

InsideSale’s Lead Response Management Study uncovered that the odds of contacting a lead decrease by over 10 times in the 1st hour, and the odds of qualifying a lead decrease by over 6 times in the 1st hour.

This further cements the point that timing is critical when it comes to lead generation. The longer you wait, the fewer chances you have of qualifying and converting those precious leads.

  • 77% of Buyers Will Not Wait Longer Than 6 Hours for an Email Reply

B2B marketers must keep in mind that buyers are now equipped with information about what they need and want from the moment they initiate interaction with your company. They have done their research. Isn’t that how they found you in the first place?

A recent study by Shopify shows that 77% of B2B buyers will not wait longer than 6 hours. In many cases, you’re not the only company they contacted, so many buyers tend to go with the brand that responds first.

The moment they decide that you’re not worth the wait is the exact moment they entertain the idea of another company. You don’t want to be losing leads to your competitors just because you failed to follow up quickly. Contact your leads immediately and send them a personalized message that lets them know that they can rely on your company.

  • The Time and Day of the Week Can Help You Qualify Leads

Timing doesn’t just mean that you need to follow up immediately. Choosing the optimum time and day of the week to contact your leads can contribute to increasing conversion rates.

The LRM study revealed that the best days of the week to call to get the best contact and qualifying rates are Wednesday and Thursday. On the other hand, Tuesday is the worst day to call your lead. In general, 8-9 AM and 4-6 PM are the best times to contact a lead because they tend to be more receptive at the beginning and at the end of the work day.

So, the next time you contact or qualify your lead, do it on a Thursday, between 8-9 AM or 4-6 PM. It won’t hurt you to follow what the study shows, right? It may even lead to higher conversion rates for your sales team.

The Bottom Line

The implication here is that B2B buyers expect an immediate and personalized response just as much as B2C consumers. As Convince & Convert’s Jay Baer said, “Our personal and commercial lives have collided in unprecedented ways.” So, treat your business buyers the same way you would treat B2C customers, like human beings with specific needs and requirements.

In B2B lead generation, it’s imperative that leads are managed promptly to convert as many prospects as possible into paying customers. Timing is key. Don’t let a live lead go to waste!

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15 thoughts on “Why Timing is Critical in Lead Generation

  1. This doesn’t look like it was intended as a joke, Michael:

    Here are a few of the top tweets from #BtoBLive:

    There was a problem connecting to Twitter.

    There was a problem connecting to Twitter.

    There was a problem connecting to Twitter.

    There was a problem connecting to Twitter.

    There was a problem connecting to Twitter.

    There was a problem connecting to Twitter.

    1. I was so thrilled to hear him say this! It’s always an uncomfortable situation when the boss asks for a tweet. You do it because you HAVE to! And the audience knows it. Looks like you saw the same Twitter issue as Greg. Hope it’s working now!

  2. Michael in concept I definitely agree, however finding those passionate employees and empowering them to speak (“tweet”) is very different than forcing employees to tweet. I still believe and have seen it first hand that employees are the biggest advocates we have. We must empower them to speak if they chose to.

    1. Hi Trish! I agree that providing employees with updates to great content and letting them decide whether to tweet is a great idea. I have seen many organizations implement daily “Tweet suggestion” lists. But the moment an executive asks for a RT, I think it begs the question of whether that is an authentic action or a fair request.

      1. Hi Michael, where do you think is the line between asking an employee to RT (bad) and letting them decide what to share (good)? I think that providing them with company-related content is a subtle (and elegant) way to ask them to RT.

        There are several tools (ours included) that turn employees into advocates by providing them content to share and gamifying the whole process. Do you think offering (non-monetary) rewards for employees that generate awareness and engagement is a good approach, or will it generate unnecessary competition?


        1. Hi Horatiu, I think providing them with suggestions for valuable suggestions is definitely a good thing. As far as gamifying, I think it all comes down to what kinds of behaviors you are rewarding. If you are rewarding employees for sharing promotional content that no one wants, then that damages everyone.

  3. Hi Michael,

    Gary—is a living legend in the content marketing age. His insight and perspective are unparalleled.

    I may not fully agree with him on the aspect of telling your employees to tweet; will only disagree if the employer is forcing or cajoling them to do it. However, if it’s persuasive, I think its a good point of action.

    1. Thanks Dare, It may be a subtle thing but providing employees with suggestions and letting them make a decision is fine but asking them to tweet is just a misuse of power and drives an obviously inauthentic experience for the audience.

  4. Hello Michael, thanks for inspiring post!

    I would paraphrase Jay Baer here:


    When I talk with my colleagues, I try to show them it is in their own best interest to build their own personal brand. I say: “Look, here’s the great content, with valuable insight for your clients. Make them see you’re part of it. It’s will help the firm, sure, but most importantly it will help to build YOUR personal connection with them. It will help you to meet your goal here and now, but it may help your future endeavors too.”

    Of course, there must be great content employees are proud of, but I believe the only way to spur employees advocacy it to show what’s there for them.


    Show what’s in there for your customers
    Show what’s in there for your influencers
    Show what’s in there for your employees
    There’s a pattern, isn’t it? 😉

    1. Igor, thanks so much for the comment. You just made my day! This is a pattern in business and life. If you truly and deeply seek to help others, you get what you need in return without asking. It all comes down to intention.

  5. I could not agree more about the differences between authentic advocacies and ‘suggestions’ vs forced promotional social activities.

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