Is Your Lead Management Leaking? We Tested 433 Companies

lead management checklist

What Is Lead Management Anyway?

Lead management is the process of tracking and managing potential customers throughout the buying journey up until the point a purchase is made. The process usually involves three stages:

1) Lead generation and prospect inquiry

This the stage during which a demand generation activity prompts a prospect to visit your website. Traditionally, this is when a lead is met with an old school form of some type on a landing page.

2) Lead grading and routing

Once a prospect has signaled interest in a product via a landing page form, a company evaluates the information submitted to determine the identity of a prospect and determine how good of a fit they are for the product or service. From there, a prospect is routed to the right sales rep or point of contact.

3) Sales contact, nurturing and close

After the lead is routed to the right person, it’s the responsibility of the company to follow up via phone, email, or a combination of both. The way they are contacted is usually determined by the type of action that prospect originally took.

Sounds simple enough, right?

In theory, it is. But unfortunately, the way most companies execute on this process leaves customers annoyed and unserved.

Don’t believe us? Here’s an experience we recently had as a customer.

Story of a Broken Lead Management System

We started running monthly webinars earlier this year at Drift.

And as the list of monthly attendees quickly grew from 50 to 500 attendees, we needed to upgrade our webinar software.

So I went to the website of the product we were using to try and add more seats — but there was no live chat option to send them a quick message. And then I searched around for a “contact sales” form — but no luck there, either. My only option was to call sales.

I typically avoid getting on the phone at all costs (unless it’s my Mom calling — hey, Mom!) but I was in a pinch and needed to get our account upgraded ASAP.

So I dialed the 800 number on the site, battled my way through a phone tree — and then a robot voice asked me to leave my name and phone number and someone would get back to me soon.

Are you kidding me? What year is this?

Since I was running a webinar the next day, I couldn’t afford to wait, so I did a quick search, and ended up going with a different vendor at the very last minute.

I found identical features. And the same exact price. But there was one big difference: my experience as a buyer.

They got back to me faster.

I connected with the second company instantly and made my purchase within minutes. Meanwhile, a sales rep from the other company didn’t call me back until two days later (and now, of course, I can’t escape the guy).

I shared that experience with the rest of the team at Drift, and it got us thinking…

What is The Common Lead Management Process?

If that experience was so bad and we were existing customers, how do businesses treat people who aren’t customers yet? How do leads get treated in a world where buyers expect responses in real-time? Do most businesses act like the second company I dealt with? Or the first?

So using a secret shopper, we set out to fill out lead forms, demo requests, and sales inquiry forms for 433 B2B SaaS companies to see just how fast they are responding to their sales leads today.

Here’s what we found.

The 2017 Drift Lead Response Survey:


  • Want to talk to sales? Get ready to fill out a form and wait. Only 7% of the 433 companies responded within the first five minutes.
  • Hope you weren’t expecting to hear back any time soon. More than half (55%) of the companies did not even respond over the course of five business days.
  • The fast responders had a secret. Of the companies with the 10 fastest response times, all of them used live chat on their websites.
  • And yet most sales teams still aren’t using chat. Overall, just 14% of the 433 companies surveyed were using live chat.

Lead Management & Response Survey

Takeaway: Your Lead Management Is Probably Leaking

In a world where we all using messaging apps every day, and 9 out of 10 people expect to be able to use messaging apps to communicate with businesses, only 14% of the B2B SaaS companies were using live chat — and that was reflected in the time it took them to respond. Only 32 of the 433 companies responded within the first five minutes.

We used five minutes as a benchmark because that’s the magic window for connecting with a new sales lead: after just five minutes, the odds of qualifying a new lead decrease by 10x. And in today’s world, that can be the difference between a potential buyer going with your business — or bouncing from your site and searching for a competitor. In other words, your lead management is leaking.

But we know that it’s unrealistic to expect your team to respond within five minutes with the tools that they’re currently using.

And that’s exactly why a shift needs to happen in the way B2B companies do sales and marketing.

How To Plug The Lead Management Leak

Instead of relying on helpful content creation, lead forms, and email nurturing campaigns, the best-in-class companies today are turning to messaging to match the real-time nature of buyers today.

Following up with someone a few days after they’ve filled out a form is like ignoring someone that walked into your store — and then mailing them a postcard hoping that they’ll come back and talk to you when you’re ready.

The best time to talk to someone isn’t after they’ve filled out a form. It’s when they are live in your store, on your website.

And with messaging, companies today have the ability to qualify leads in real-time. So while your team might not be able to work 24/7, chatbots can help qualify leads in that precious five-minute window and find the ideal customers for your business simply by asking the same questions a BDR might ask via email or over the phone.

As the numbers show in this lead response survey, despite the fact that we all use messaging in our personal lives every single day, we’re still in the very early innings of the shift to messaging for sales.

But that just means there’s a huge opportunity for the companies that are willing to move first. And the best part? It doesn’t require a fundamental change to your business — it all starts with adding a second net to your current website.

Check it out to see if you’re leaving money on the table.