“As marketing scales, lead management becomes more complex and time-consuming.”
Deirdre Sarsfield, EMEA Marketing Manager at KEMP Technologies
Exponential changes in technology have enabled marketers to automate and scale our demand gen efforts, allowing them to exceed MQL goals in ways that we previously could only dream about — but scaling introduced new complexities and great challenges with our lead management process, which continues to be the biggest obstacle for sales and marketing alignment. Last year, we secret-shopped 538 companies on their lead follow-up practices and surprisingly found that one-third of companies did not — not even once — respond to our inquiry about their product or service. If you just found your lips slowly drifting apart and your head slowly tilting to the side with slightly furrowed eyebrows…don’t worry, we had the same reaction.
Although these numbers are shocking, they explain the sentiment of many marketers — that sales cannot be relied on to take care of every single one of marketing’s hard-earned inbound leads. On the other side of the table, sales blame marketers for not bringing in quality leads — making it hard for the SDR team to convert leads into real opportunities.
A Call for Sales and Marketing Alignment
In this data-driven era of marketing, it’s not uncommon to find marketing departments being held to numbers beyond MQLs. As marketers are able to link their programs to value and ROI, one the of the places that they should be able to support and influence is with the SDR team — where the magic of lead-to-opportunity conversions happen.
According to a new study from App Data Room and Marketo, alignment in sales and marketing
results in 208% more value and 108% less friction in the sales process.
In an effort to bridge the sales and marketing divide, some companies have shifted the management of SDRs to the Marketing team. But regardless of who manages and supports SDRs in your company, sales and marketing should share a common goal of figuring out solutions that alleviate inefficiencies in the lead qualification process.
This the first in a four-part series to help marketers identify precise bottlenecks in the lead follow-up process, so that that they could have the power in their hands to influence how MQLs get converted into opportunities and ultimately influence revenue generation.
So here it is, the first reason why your inbound leads won’t convert…
(because the early bird catches the worm!)
According to an Inside Sales study, Promptness is the most important factor when contacting inbound leads. The faster the connection is with a lead, the higher the likelihood of converting them into to a customer.
Did you know that…
The likelihood of conversion drops significantly during the first three minutes of the lead’s inquiry
The odds of qualifying a lead contacted within five minutes are 21 times higher compared to 30 minutes
Contacting a lead within the first hour increased the likelihood of qualifying the lead by seven times compared to a two-hour window, and 60 times in comparison to companies waiting 24 hours or longer.
With Promptness being such a critical point in lead engagement, we’re still surprised with how often companies express this as their biggest pain point. “Companies would come to our website and fill out a form to request information about the reseller programs,” says John Roth from Star2Star Communications. “That request would be sent out to the regional people in the company who would respond. But not in seconds or minutes—it was often hours or even days later. The request could sit for four or five days. So once they get a callback, they’re already cold.”
John is not alone with his frustration with the seemingly laissez-faire approach to lead follow-up. Here’s what our 2016 Sales Effectiveness Report on Lead Follow-Up discovered:
Only 42% of companies who responded did so within the first five minutes after contact
More than one-third of companies who responded did not make contact within the first 24 hours (which would dramatically decrease the likelihood of either contacting the lead or making a sale.)
With these results, it’s no wonder that marketers feel the constant need to chase down SDRs on their follow-up status! But unless your company has hired enough SDRs to follow up on all of your leads (which could get costly), sales people will have to rely on their own judgement when it comes to figuring out who they should prioritize.
Hire an AI Sales Assistant to be the fastest member of the team
So what happens to rest of those poor abandoned, untouched leads? They would either go into some sort of email nurturing program, or get followed up days after they have moved on to find different solutions, or even worst — get abandoned completely (like one-third of the companies we secret-shopped.)
There’s a different option: we offer an AI Sales Assistant who can engage ALL of your leads in a two-way conversation, then pass them them along when they’re ready to talk to sales. It’s about engagement, not just automation. You can guess that the AI Assistant will have no issue with her Promptness factor. In fact, many of our customers will get her to follow up on leads within minutes of a white paper download, or after the lead’s interaction with their company at an event. If you’re able to see how important Promptness is to the lead follow-up practice, employing an AI Sales Assistant may be what it takes for you to ensure that every single one of your inbound leads can get the attention that they need.
Go HERE to learn more from our research report: The 4Ps of Sales Effectiveness in Lead Follow-Up.
Or HERE to get a demo to see how our AI Sales Assistant can be the perfect employee who follows up on every single one of your leads.
Next week, we’ll cover the second costly reason that’s holding your inbound sales team back from converting those inbound leads!