Respond first; present last.

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This is about more than marketing, it’s about sales and marketing alignment and a sales tip.

When a serious prospect approaches your company – not someone just downloading an infographic or signing up for a webinar, but someone who says that they want to talk with you about buying – it’s very important that someone at your company respond within a few minutes. Studies have shown that responding in 5 or 10 minutes gives you a much greater chance of reaching the person than if you respond in 30 or 60 minutes even.

Just as importantly, the first responder has a leg up over all the later ones. You’re far more memorable if you’re first than if you’re third or fifth.

When I was doing biz dev for a marketing agency we received an online inquiry from the VP of Marketing at Avid Technology. Since I was already familiar with Avid’s products – I had owned one of their non-linear video editing systems at my agency – I didn’t have to spend as much time researching them before calling. I called in less than five minutes and she responded, “Either you have nothing to do or you’re really responsive.” I assured her it was the latter.

And every time she introduced us to others at Avid during the sales process she would say, “These are the people who responded to me in five minutes.” That initial impression was burned into her mind. The deal closed quickly.

Compare that to another client who told me that at her company it could take up to two weeks for sales to respond to a hot lead. By then it’s a stone cold dead lead.

In larger organizations marketing and sales need to work together to figure out who is responsible for the initial response to these hot leads. In some companies it’s in marketing, and in others it’s in sales.

When sales is making their final presentation, though, they should go last. Whenever I’m given a choice of options for presenting times I always take the last one available.

Prospects are often educating themselves in the first few presentations and may not remember real well what those early companies said, especially if the meetings are spread over several days, as they often are. When you’re batting last, you have the opportunity to react to any issues that have come up in earlier presentations from other vendors.

In one sales situation we were the last of three companies to present. One of the tactics we talked about was remarketing. It turned out that neither of the other two companies had even mentioned it. That was a plus in our favor. If we had gone first and mentioned remarketing, the prospect could have asked the other two vendors about it and probably would have gotten an, “Of course we’ll do remarketing. That goes without saying” kind of response. But since we were last they didn’t have that opportunity, and again we won the deal.

Respond first, present last.