This post is the second in a three-part series. Last week we discussed lead generation, and you can find that post here: http://biobm.com/2013/11/leads-101-part-1.
Responding to Inquiries
Unless you’re marketing and selling very high-value products to a relatively small audience, be it a niche market or a narrowly defined role, you’re probably relying fairly heavily on inbound marketing to drive lead generation. (If you’re not, you’re probably doing something wrong, such as relying too heavily on distributors to do your marketing for you.) Inbound leads go cold extraordinarily quickly, so it is critical to respond as soon as possible. A study published in Harvard Business Review study found that contacting potential customers within an hour of receiving a inquiry leads to a seven times higher qualification rate than contacting the an hour later and a 60 times higher qualification rate than waiting 24 hours or longer. To state this another way, waiting a day to get around to your inquiries could cost you over 98% of your leads.
So how can we reduce response time and thereby maximize conversion? A Velocify study asked just that question, and the answer was quite clear. 1) Automate your lead distribution to your sales force, 2) “push” your leads to your sales force rather than having them “pull” leads, and 3) send leads out in a “shotgun” fashion – send each lead out to multiple reps and allow the fastest to respond. Companies that did these three things were shown to have a downstream conversion rate 107% higher than those companies that handled their leads manually.
I didn’t imagine I would need to say this until I read about a study on the matter, but don’t forget to contact the people that place inquiries. You might imagine this should be obvious, yet a study of lead response behavior conducted by InsideSales.com which included data from 696 companies showed that 36% of inquiries placed through an online form were not responded to within two weeks! There’s simply no excuse for letter your leads slip through the cracks.
Remember that not every lead requires a response, however. For example, if a prospect is requesting a piece of content then depending on the nature of that content and the prospect’s past behavior it may not be helpful to contact the prospect personally, at least not if you’re delivering the content automatically. Likewise, if a lead is disqualified due to being well outside your target market, then courtesy aside, there is little value in a response. This brings us to our next topic of lead scoring, which we’ll discuss next week.