When you get multiple sales leads at once, which one should you follow up on first?

By Jay Reeder

The easy answer for most people is, “All of them. There isn’t one that is more important than another.” And to a certain extent, that’s true. 23% of companies never respond to a lead at all, according to the Harvard Business Review. That’s like seeing a $100 bill on the sidewalk and not picking it up.

But let’s face it: with limited time, you can’t answer every call at the same time. As with all tasks, you have to figure out what are the most important phone calls to return and deal with those first.

Why? The early bird gets the worm, reports InsideSales.com: nearly 50% of sales from incoming leads go to the vendor who responds first.

How do you do that? Here are four ways you can prioritize calls:

Get help

You shouldn’t have to answer common questions such as “When are you open?” and “Where are you located?” yourself. Anybody can do this. This doesn’t mean you have to hire a new person to take your calls, although there are some call center solutions that will not only take messages but also answer frequently asked questions. The answer is within your phone system.

Some systems allow you to share your phone line with multiple people within your organization, so if a new lead comes in, you have several people who can capitalize on it instead of you having to do it yourself.

“Take this guy first”

Have you ever watched a hospital emergency room TV show? In those shows, they all perform something called triage, where they evaluate all the patients and send the most serious cases back first. The minor injuries can wait.

We can apply the same principles to returning phone calls. Sadly, not all leads are created equal. By listening to the messages you can determine whether they are a potential big sale or someone fishing for information. Then you can return the ones that are either (a) an easy sale, (b) questions you can answer quickly or (c) customers that you hear from regularly.

Again, virtual phone systems can help. Some systems will allow you to mark a lead according to whether they’re an existing customer, initial contact, sales lead or VIP. This will allow you to triage which phone calls you need to return first so you can make that sale.

Use your data

Using past data on the kind of leads you have received and when you followed up on them can also give you a serious edge in knowing which ones are likely to be warm and which can be left until last.

A good virtual phone system will have detailed analytics on your call history. Data on call volume, top cities and callers, and average response time can help you understand which sales leads to prioritize when compared with data on customer conversions.

Despite the fact that 50% of professionals give up on leads after the first follow-up, research has shown that it takes around five follow-up calls to secure a sale. A system that allows you to optimize and prioritize your most important leads can help you drive sales. Phone systems can even determine how well you’re getting back to potential customers and recommend ways to boost conversions.

By all means, return all calls

According to the Lead Response Management Survey, the odds of qualifying a lead drop 21 times if you call back after 30 minutes as opposed to 5 minutes. While you should almost always immediately answer important calls, take some time out of your day to answer all your calls – no matter how unimportant they may seem. You never know what might turn into a sale.

By Jay Reeder, Founder of Ninja Number, a virtual phone system that helps entrepreneurs increase revenue with an AI-powered automated telephone lead optimization.

Phone stock photo by Don Pablo/Shutterstock