The 4Ps of Effective Sales Follow-Up

We all know the story—Marketing generates leads, Sales follows up those leads in an attempt to gauge interest, answer questions, and convert them. But we also know it’s not always that simple. It takes speed, persistence, and tact to engage a lead in a two-way conversation. The more effective a Sales team is in these factors, the more successful the team is likely to be.

At Conversica, we refer to the factors contributing to Sales effectiveness as “the 4Ps.” Performing well across the 4Ps helps engage leads and develop them into opportunities. The 4Ps are:

  • Promptness: How quickly does your Sales team follow up with a lead or inquiry?
  • Persistence: How many follow up attempts does your Sales team make before moving on?
  • Personalization: To what extent was your response personalized? Did the response attempt to move the conversation forward?
  • Performance: Did the email successfully reach the lead’s Primary inbox? Or did it land in Promotions, Social, or Spam?

Let’s take a look at each of these in-depth to assess how important these factors are and tips for how to improve Sales effectiveness.

Promptness

Promptness is the most important factor when engaging with an inbound lead. The faster the connection is made, the higher the likelihood of converting a lead to a customer.

But exactly how quick is quick enough? If a contact fills out a lead form or requests a demo, should Sales teams be following up within hours or minutes? Truth be told, Sellers need to touch leads within just five minutes. Studies find the odds of qualifying a lead contacted within 5 minutes are 10 times higher compared to leads contacted in 10 minutes—and significantly higher than leads touched after 30 minutes.

Similarly, speedy responses offer a competitive advantage. Research finds that an astounding 78% of customers buy from the first responder. Recognizing that sales cycles continue to be negatively impacted by COVID-19 and the ensuing economic downturn, businesses must respond as quickly as possible.

The same goes for generating inbound leads via webinars, virtual events, or content downloads in which consumers share their contact information via a lead form to gain access. Some of these leads are interested in learning more about your company offerings while others are just there for your thought leadership. In either case, it’s wise to follow up with them immediately because your organization will be top of mind.

Persistence

While promptness is crucial, it’s rare to convert a lead after just one touch. Realistically, it can take as many as 15 touches to get a lead to respond. Persistence as a trend is exacerbated by the pandemic. As budgets tighten, sales cycles lengthen.Sales teams need to deliver more touches to motivate potential customers to take the next steps.

People are busy. Even if a lead means to respond, it might not be right away. This can leave your message lost in a cluttered inbox. As they say, out of sight, out of mind. Persistent follow-up helps to keep your business in mind until the lead is ready to take those next steps and set a meeting with your Sales team.

Personalization

Of all the 4Ps, personalization takes the most amount of time and effort to craft a unique and appealing message. This challenge is compounded when Salespeople need to deliver a personalized email promptly to a new lead or repeatedly to persistently chase a lead over time.

Still, research shows that effort pays off. Personalized emails receive twice as many opens and twice as many click-throughs as non-personalized emails.

But what defines a personalized email? Conversica uses this five-part standard for defining personalization:

  1. Personalized greeting: Message refers to the contact by name.
  2. Individual sender: The “From” line of the email preferably lists the sender’s name—or at least the company, team, or department name.
  3. Signature or contact information: The message provides contact information for the sender to respond.
  4. Success factor: The Sales associate moves the conversation forward by asking for a meeting time, sharing educational information, or offering to answer questions.
  5. Personalized content: The content of the email reference the lead’s initial request (whether that’s a demo request, a content download, or webinar/event attendance).

A truly personalized email contains all five.

Performance

As you might expect, personalization goes hand in hand with performance. The more personalized an email is, the more likely it is to land in the recipient’s primary inbox.

Email providers assist their users by automatically filtering emails into various folders. Gmail is a prime example. Depending on the sender and content of the email, a message will find its way into a Primary Inbox, Promotions Folder, Social Folder, or Spam Folder. Each of these categories has its purposes. But for Sellers, there is a binary distinction between messaging landing where they are most effective (the Primary Inbox) versus anywhere else.

By following best practices and personalizing emails, Sellers can ensure better email performance.

What to Do When Sales Follow Up Falls Short

While our 4Ps are based on best practices, it’s not easy to hit all of these categories perfectly every time. Sales professionals only have so many hours in a day to tackle lead follow-up—not to mention their other duties. Crafting a personalized email, for instance, takes time.

How can Salespeople do a better job of following up promptly and persistently with well-performing personalized emails each time?

To help hit these targets, Sales teams often employ email templates, marketing automation tools, and increasing headcount by hiring more Sales Development Representatives (SDRs). But it appears that this is not enough. Conversica’s 2020 Sales Effectiveness Report finds that only 8 percent of companies we surveyed performed well against all 4Ps.

Clearly, organizations need new techniques and technologies to help Sales teams to improve lead follow-up. Fortunately, there is a solution in an Intelligent Virtual Assistant (IVA).

An IVA augments revenue-generating teams by automating lead follow-up and outreach. By combining the power of intelligent automation with the human-like aspects of Conversational AI, an Intelligent Virtual Assistant acts as a virtual team member, able to deliver prompt, persistent, and personalized messages that always follow best practices.

The primary benefit of adopting an Intelligent Virtual Assistant is revenue generation. The secondary benefits are improved operational efficiency, increased Sales team capacity, and better experiences for leads and prospects. By taking on the repetitive tasks of sending personalized messages to leads in order to determine intent and drive towards the next best action, Sales teams can focus their efforts on building relationships with prospects and converting leads.

Want to see how other businesses and industries stack up against the 4Ps? Explore Conversica’s 2020 Sales Effectiveness Report.