Many things with lead generation seem easier than they are. Take sales lead follow-up for example, research shows that sales people do not fully pursue around 70% of leads generated by marketing. That amounts to literally billions of wasted marketing dollars. The speed of lead follow-up is a major contributor to this problem.
KnowledgeStorm and The Artemis Group just completed a benchmarking study of best practices for pursuing online leads (registration required). They concluded, “Leads get cold quickly, so it is vital that vendors implement prompt, effective lead follow-up processes.”
I’ve closed-the-loop on thousands of leads with clients and unquestionably, the speed of follow-up and the degree of lead acceptance by the sales team has a major impact on ROI.
One of my clients; centrally qualifies all their leads (via phone) against their universal lead definition within 2-hours, distributes and requires their field sales force to follow up on those that are sales-ready within 8-hours. They generate 12,000 inquiries per year, mostly via their website.
If a qualified sales lead is not followed up by the assigned sales person within 24-hours, they can count on a call from their sales manager. If a sales lead goes more than 48-hours before being touched, that salesperson risks having that lead assigned to someone else – someone with more selling time capacity.
Does that seem a bit too militant for your taste? Perhaps. For them, it works. They have an amazing lead conversion rate, which is triple the number of their industry peers. They are successfully beating three Fortune 500 competitors who are 50 times their size.
One final thought, If your sales team cannot turn leads back over for additional lead nurturing you are just throwing a lot of your budget on the scrap heap.
We have discovered that 30% – 45% of leads that were not considered viable opportunities by the sales team actually became sales-ready opportunities within 12-months. This client re-captured a $1.2 million dollars per quarter in revenue by simply giving their sales team the ability to hand the baton back and recycle their leads.
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Absolutely spot on. I have seen real and virtually immediate sales increases simply following up the same day on inquiries. With better and faster communication vehicles like e-mail and IM some of my customers are now demanding 30 minute or less response times and it’s amazing to watch the increase in closed leads as a result.
I agree with this idea, but interestingly enough a recent trade show experience suggests perhaps this isn’t always the best approach.
Many attendees to trade shows are bombarded in the first couple of weeks following a show as all the vendors try to hit them straight away.
If a prospect asks to be followed up straight away that is great. But many visitors to the stand that I was working on were pleased that we were not going to chase them immediately.
That said, the enthusiasm of prospects seen at a trade show tends to vanish pretty quickly, in my experience, sometimes within the first 48 hours.
Very true. I experience this a lot, but cannot plant the idea on our sales people/manager. Now I can use your article and show it to them.
I thought this was a great post. Leads go stale, just like bread. When people inquire, they’re interested right then, and people’s patience is growing shorter every day. And, as you said, if leads aren’t nurtured, it’s a waste, because marketers aren’t leveraging the original investment made to generate the inquiries.
X-Sells’ Blog on Sales Lead Management:
Great work again Brian. I’m excited to get a look at the book.
Any and all leads should be prospected to on a regular basis.
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