Make Sure Your Sales Team is Following Up on Leads
as Quickly as Possible
The single most important thing to do after a lead is generated is to have a sales rep contact that prospect as quickly as possible. The faster you respond to a lead, the greater the chance of winning that business.
In order to facilitate a low response time, you will want to make sure that the sales team receives form submissions from your website via email immediately. Same with phone calls; make sure they go straight to a sales rep — and not to a voice mail system or receptionist who needs to take a message and have a sales rep return the call.
The Harvard Business Review conducted a study to examine the short life of online sales leads. It submitted a lead to 2,241 U.S. companies and measured how quickly the companies responded. Here were the findings:
- 37 percent responded within one hour
- 16 percent responded in one to 24 hours
- 24 percent responded in more than 24 hours
- 23 percent never responded at all
In another study by the Harvard Business Review, researchers found:
- “U.S. firms that tried to contact potential customers within an hour of receiving a query were nearly seven times as likely to qualify the lead (which we defined as having a meaningful conversation with a key decision maker) as those that tried to contact the customer even an hour later — and more than 60 times as likely as companies that waited 24 hours or longer.”
Chances are that even waiting an hour to respond to a lead is going to hurt your business. Every minute that goes by after a lead is generated, that prospect is becoming less and less interested in working with your company. You can expect that the prospect is contacting your competitors while he waits for you to respond to his lead. Normally, the company that responds first makes the best first impression.
Use Best Practices for Lead Tracking
In order to scale your lead generation efforts, you need to have internal systems in place to track every sales lead correctly. Without this, you will not be able to understand what marketing campaign or channel is driving the highest number of quality leads. If you don’t have this data, you will not be able to allocate your marketing resources and advertising dollars to the campaigns and channels that have the best performance.
Best practices for lead tracking include the following:
- Implement a phone call tracking system that tracks the marketing source and records all calls.
- Use a hardcoded phone number on your website to make sure you are capturing all phone calls, even the ones that come from the direct marketing source.
- All form submissions and phone calls, at a minimum, need to be tracked to a visitor referral URL and entry URL.
- Make sure your form submissions send emails directly to your sales rep(s).
- Make sure the phone calls ring directly to your sales team and one of them is always available to answer the phone.
- Feed all form submissions and phone calls directly into your CRM and marketing automation platform; have both systems continually sync with each other.
- Validate your sales leads. Make sure you are separating leads from non-leads, and updating your CRM and marketing automation platform.
With these best practices and systems in place, you will be able to capture all of your leads and report back on which marketing campaigns are working and which ones are wasting dollars.
Make sure you don’t let your internal systems get in the way of sales ability to quickly follow up on a sales lead. See our Internet Marketing Lead Generation Ecosystem for a blueprint on how to build a complete Internet marketing strategy that maximizes sales lead generation.
Implement an Email Marketing Automation Platform
Most people think the process of lead generation and sales is fairly simple: a lead is generated, a sales rep responds, a conversation and/or meeting takes place, a proposal is sent and the deal is won or lost. The reality of this situation is actually quite different:
- A high number of sales leads never respond when the sales rep reaches out via phone and email. This can happen even if the sales rep responds very quickly to the lead. Even after the sales rep makes multiple attempts to respond, the prospect never returns the correspondence.
- On top of this, the sales team may get a surprisingly large number of prospects that cannot afford your services.
- Lastly, you have the issue of deals that the sales reps lost to either a competitor or the prospect never making a decision.
When these things take place, most sales reps never hear from or communicate to these prospects again. It is a churn-and-burn model. Take a business that generates 170 leads per month. After five years, it has over 10,000 leads (and email addresses), but the sales reps just keep working on the newest leads. Who is talking to those 10,000 people? Probably your competitors.
Today, email marketing automation solutions (such as Tout) enable your sales team to continue the conversation with all of these people while they continue to work on the latest leads. Over time, as the number of email addresses grows, you will reignite old sales leads and convert them into clients. These systems take a fair amount of upfront strategy and content creation, but after that work is completed, much of the system can be automated.
Make Sure Your Marketing and Sales Efforts are Connected
One reason we created the Lead Generation Ecosystem infographic was to emphasize the interconnectivity of marketing and sales. As professional marketers, we ask companies to make a considerable investment in lead generation marketing campaigns. For companies to get the most out of their investment, the sales follow-up process must be every bit as efficient as the marketing process. Something as simple as answering phone inquiries on the first ring could make the difference between fair results and spectacular ones. Work continuously at improving marketing and sales functions, and lead generation quantity and quality will consistently improve.