I’ve made the case previously in this space how one of the easiest way to gain a quick return from any investment in marketing automation is to apply the technology towards more efficient and systematic follow-up to inbound leads. And yet, I’m finding in the course of our firm’s work that many companies don’t consider lead follow-up a priority.
I suspect this reticence is for two primary reasons: 1) lead follow-up isn’t a particular “sexy” application for marketing automation, nor the primary business case used to justify the purchase in the first place, and 2) many organizations have inside sales teams in place dutifully contacting leads by phone and email and so those companies feel that lead follow-up is already attended to.
In a ground-breaking report back in 2007, the people at InsideSales.com reported some startling statistics about just how quickly companies should follow up on Web leads, and the repercussions of not doing so. (The company just published a “5 year retrospective” on the report including some newer data – you can download a copy here.) Here are some highlights from the original report:
“The chances of reaching a new sales lead drop over 10x if you wait longer than the first hour of shown interest, and the odds of qualifying that lead decrease 6x after the first 60 minutes”
“The odds of contacting a lead if called within five minutes versus even 30 minutes are 100x greater. The odds of entering (that) lead into your sales cycle increase 21x if called within five minutes compared to 30 minutes.”
Plainly put, simply calling or contacting every lead isn’t enough. Multiple dials or emails isn’t enough. Bottom line: if your inside sales team isn’t consistently reaching every new lead within five minutes of that person’s expressed interest, you’re losing sales.
What’s the solution? Well, you can hire more telesales reps and throw more warm bodies at the problem. Or you can make the smart investment, and integrate marketing automation seamlessly into your inside sales operation by incorporating automated, personalized, relevant email follow-up within 5 minutes of any new lead entering the funnel.
Besides ensuring that every lead receives prompt, systematic follow-up regardless of sales bandwidth, marketing automation also increases the productivity of an inside sales team by helping filter out junk leads (eliminating wasted calls) and prioritizing the rest based on demographic and behavioral criteria. It’s a win-win for both sales AND marketing. Marketing automation systems can even generate sales alerts so hot leads get moved immediately to the front of the queue.
Incidentally, if you’re under the impression that since 2007 companies have realized the error of their ways and are following up with leads more promptly, InsideSales.com has some bad news. In their recent update, the firm released the results of a survey conducted at the 2011 Dreamforce conference showing that the average overall response time to new leads is 42 hours. That’s almost 4 whole days.
It’s enough to make a demand generation marketer weep.