May 14, 2018

The internet is a powerful place for insurance leads.

When people want to learn about insurance options, one of the first things they do is go to Google.

That’s why many insurance agents either purchase internet leads, or they have their own website to collect leads for them.

That’s also why agents are investing in digital marketing and online resources, like email newsletters and blogs.

If any of this applies to you, I’d like you to ask yourself a simple question: how long does it take you to contact a new lead?

Five minutes? An hour? A few hours? The next day?

I’m sad to say that even if it’s taking you as little as five minutes, you might be losing out on thousands of dollars in sales.


Speed to lead

Speed to lead is the difference between closing a sale and missing out completely. If you’re under the impression that “this can wait until this afternoon,” you’re sadly mistaken.


Paul Cannon, a shareholder, trial attorney, intake manager and online marketing manager at Simmons and Fletcher, P.C. handles between 500 and 700 leads a month.

Paul explains, “It’s not like the old days where someone calls, gets an answering machine, and is willing to wait for a call back. Now, they can contact anyone with a click, and they all have ratings next to their names telling them what other clients thought. If you don’t respond fast, that’s the first strike against you – and likely the last.

In my own experience, people who market in the education (college recruiting) space understand the importance of speed to lead the most.

Let’s say a high school graduate goes to the university’s website, they look around, and they fill out a contact form. Those marketers will literally call you while you are still on their website –  without a doubt.

Why? Well, there are a few reasons.

1. Competition

Think about it – when you go online, are you immediately married to one company? No!

You’re shopping around, and so are your potential leads.

They’re likely hopping around from site to site, and they might be filling out contact forms along the way.

If you don’t contact that lead before they hit another website, there’s a chance that one of those other companies could contact them before you – and you lose your window of opportunity.


This mistake could end up costing you thousands of dollars – for Shawn Breyer’s team at Breyer Home Buyers, that mistake ended up costing them $25,000 – and that’s just one instance of being too slow.

Shawn explains, “We had a lead come in, and we were really busy, so we didn’t call them back immediately. We thought we’d get back to them in the afternoon. Well, afternoon came around, and we reached out to the lady who had submitted her information. She told us that someone had already come out to look at the house and that they already signed the contract with them. We saw how much the house was sold for, and the investors that beat us to the lead made $25,000 on that deal. You can imagine how strict we are on our response times now.”

By putting off a lead until later in the day, you’re giving your competition free reign to steal your lead from under your nose.

2. Attention

When people are actively researching something, it has all of their attention.

If you can contact them while they’re still on their computer, there’s a much greater chance of actually reaching them.

If you wait, they could be doing anything – eating lunch, picking up their grandkids, seeing the doctor…

Then, it can become a game of phone tag, and with each missed call, you slowly lose your chance of ever closing that sale.

Not to mention that they might forget what they were even searching for.


JC Matthews, Co-Founder of Simply Insurance, explains, “Your customer wants the information right now, and if you fail to respond, their minds will promptly wander off into something else. The longer it takes you to reach out to them, the less fresh it is on their mind, and the more friction you will have to go through.”

3. Motivation

Finally, when people are researching online, they’re motivated.

Shawn Breyer explains, “Our leads are usually people with really distressed properties or situations pertaining to their property, and they really want to get out of the property. When the pain really hits, they become really motivated.”

And it’s at that precise moment that they go online and search for a solution.

You can’t miss that moment.

That moment is your moment.

What’s the best timeframe to contact a hot lead?

Speed to lead is clearly important. Perhaps it’s even more important than you ever realized.

But how quick do you really need to be?

Many will say that within 5 minutes is sufficient, while others say it has to be within 15 seconds.

Either way, you get the idea – it needs to be almost immediate.


John Holloway, Co-Founder & Director of Digital Strategy at NoExam.com explains, “We aim to follow up with all leads within 5 minutes. Studies show you are 400% more likely to make a sale if you follow up within the first 5 minutes.”

Since John and his team have improved their speed to lead, they’ve seen a 40% increase in sales – from the same lead volume.

That’s insane!

Take that in for a second.

With the same number of leads, NoExam.com was able to increase sales by 40% – just by responding to their leads faster.


Roy Harmon, owner of Advertoscope, a publication that covers lead generation strategies, agrees that 5 minutes is usually the lucky number. But for insurance? It might actually be too long.

Roy explains, “In a competitive market like the insurance industry, speed is even more important. You should aim to contact leads immediately. Prospects tend to reach out to a number of different agencies. That means that if you wait five minutes to call, you might not even be lucky enough to be the second caller.

For Shawn Breyer’s team, their goal is to reach the lead within 60 seconds.

For Paul Cannon, his leads are actually calling in, and you guessed it – no call goes left unanswered. Paul explains, “Contacts during business hours are handled immediately by the call center. If the contact comes in after hours, we have an after-hours answering service that takes the call. They screen the lead, and if it qualifies, they book an appointment. If they can’t book an appointment, they have a list of people within the firm to call to get involved starting with me and then going to the other attorneys. If I need to take the weekend or after-hours call, so be it.

For JC Matthews, his goal is actually 15 seconds. “Most people will tell you within 1 minute.  However, I have found that if you don't reach out to that person in the first 15 seconds, the probability of you getting them is extremely low.

The 15-second window is also specific to agents who are purchasing leads. Since most of the leads online are sold over to multiple agents (the customer isn't just researching on your site), you have to hit the iron while it's hot – because another agent will.

How can you improve your speed to lead?

It depends on whether the leads are coming in from your own website or if you’re purchasing them, but there are a couple things you can do to speed up your first contact with a hot lead.

Get notified in every way possible

When you get a new lead, you don’t want to miss it. So, if your only way of learning you have a new lead is through an email, and you aren’t on your email every second of every day (who is?!), then you need to adjust your strategy.


Brandon Wright at ThoughtLab explains what his team does to get notified when a lead comes in: “When a lead comes into our office, a message is sent out via email, text, and Slack. If we could light up a disco ball when a lead came in, we would – it’s that important!”

Grow your team

If you can’t contact your leads quickly enough, you’re missing out on money. That’s motivation enough to hire on a helper, right?

Roy Harmon explains, “If you can't pick up the phone because you get too many leads, or you have other business to take care of, you should consider growing your team to improve your speed to lead.”

Yes – speed to lead is that important.

Consider marketing automations

If growing your team just isn’t an option, you might want to consider marketing automations. As soon as a lead comes in, your automation could send them an email.


Whitney Meers, Strategist at Concrete Blonde Consulting, explains that you should send an automated email when you can’t contact the lead right away. Keep in mind that this could be because you’re too busy or maybe the lead contacts you in the middle of the night.

“Thank them for their interest, and include an introductory video explaining your business until you can reach them during business hours,” she advises.

Bill Fish, Co-Founder of Tuck.com, explains a time when he was actually up in the middle of the night, and he decided to respond to a lead. “I was up at 2am feeding our newborn son,” he recalls, “I happened to see an email come through about one of our products, so I gave a quick response.”


The next morning, Bill woke up to a massive order from that customer. “He told me how impressed he was that I responded to him in the middle of the night, and he was going to tell his friends.  I deflected the praise as it wasn’t something I did on a normal basis, and I couldn’t wait until I could sleep through the night again myself, but wouldn’t you know that orders started coming in that were referred by this person.”

Even if you have an automated email that established contact with a client when you can’t be there, it can be a close second to replying yourself.

Shawn Breyers also has automations in place on top of his team’s goal of actually calling the lead within the first minute. “We automatically send out text and email responses when they submit their information, but the 60 seconds is tracking how quickly we get on the phone with them.”

Troubleshooting missed sales even if your speed to lead is fast

Even if you’re striking the iron while it’s hot, there’s still one mistake you might be making that’s costing you money: not closing the deal.

JC Matthews has been selling life insurance for the past 10 years, and 100% of his sales are over the phone. He explains that customers don’t realize that in about the next 4 to 5 days, they are going to be pounded with calls.  

“I always say go for the one-call close; if you don't, you might not ever get a sale,” he says.

Paul Cannon also came across this problem where someone might even schedule an appointment with him, but they’d fail to show up.

“I’d call them back, and they’d tell me they found another lawyer. What this tells me is that people will continue to shop around even when they have an appointment with you. They won’t stop until they sign a contract.”

So, if you don’t close the deal within the first day or two, there’s a good chance that your prospect will be closed by someone else.

So, you want to close more insurance sales with the leads you have? Be faster.

You’ll be amazed at what happens next.

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