Responding to Leads – The Fundamental Start of Any Sale

The Great Marketing/Sales Disconnect: Industry Study Reveals 36% of Leads Never Called.

Forbes annual study of lead response behaviour conducted by on 696 companies with on-line lead forms revealed that sales reps were, on average, attempting their first call to a newly submitted web lead after 39 hours had passed. This second-day contact strategy delivers a high degree of “lead-no-contact” experiences among reps responding to inbound web leads, typically causing sales managers to complain about the poor quality of leads. As a result, sales managers continue to pressure marketing to produce more and more leads to fill the gap. However, without reporting visibility into when first sales-initiated call contact was made, the sales complaint to marketing remains somewhat hollow. Another alarming piece of data: Nearly 36% of those audited never responded to a submitted lead during the entire two-week tracking period.

To restate this, a large amount of marketing budget spent on generating web-leads simply decays with no value because no one bothered to follow up on those leads. Of the 696 audited companies, less than one-third (23.9%) responded to a web-generated lead within the high-value, five-minute window. Within the first four hours, 42% of audited companies had responded. However, when email auto-responders were removed from the analysis, only 0.9% of audited companies attempted first contact to a lead during the critical five-minute response window. Only 29% had attempted first contact within the first four hours.

This year’s study also revealed that persistence remains low even when including auto-response emails. Two or fewer attempts were made to contact a new lead before the rep gave up. Those companies that made two or more attempts via email or a call fall into the 75th percentile of the audited companies. Overall, this year’s results indicate that sales management still has not made rapid lead response a priority. This issue is at the crux of the marketing/sales stand-off. Marketing departments across many industries have heavily tilted their spend toward online lead generation activities. Lead response management research proves that rapid response – in under five minutes – and persistence, deliver better contact and lead progression results for web-generated leads. Sales departments around the country have not yet stepped up their processes and technologies to address the behaviour of web-generated leads.


Why does a Call Attempt initiated by a Sales Rep matter?

According to the lead response management research conducted in 2007, a sales rep is 100 x more likely to make contact with a new lead, and 21 x more likely to progress that lead into the sales pipeline, if live contact is attempted within the first five minutes of a lead being submitted. These original findings have since been updated and later published in Inc. magazine and Harvard Business Review in 2011, and on in 2012.

This recently completed annual Lead Response Audit study highlights two areas that have an effect on whether or not a lead ever gets contacted and progressed into the sales pipeline—response timing and persistence. Persistence refers to how many times an individual rep attempts to contact a new lead before giving up. Lead response timing refers to the period between when an electronic lead has been submitted and when first contact is attempted.

There are two types of response contact methods this study tracks: email contact and first call attempt made by a member of the sales or inside sales team. Because auto-email responders are typically not strong mediums for moving the opportunity forward — instead they represent the end of the automated marketing process, offering a thank you for submitting the lead and links to specific marketing materials — a rep-initiated call attempt is the contact method executives and managers should track.

It’s an interesting read, and evidently still a highly current issue in the sales industry. There is no excuse nowadays to not follow-up with leads – especially when these figures are put in front of you.

We coach, train and collaborate with hundreds of companies on exactly this topic. I would happy be discuss options available to you and how they would impact your sales – call me on 0207 043 1582 or click here to find out more. But first, make sure you have responded to all of your leads this morning!

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