Conversica, the leading provider of artificial intelligence-based lead engagement software for marketing and sales, today released the 2015 edition of its Sales Effectiveness Report: Lead Follow-Up. The survey of companies across nine industries was designed to determine how well these organizations respond to sales leads. More than one-third of those contacted did not respond at all, even when a lead contacted them with a direct, specific inquiry.

Overall, the survey looked at the four crucial elements generally acknowledged as critical to the successful engagement of inbound leads: promptness, persistence, personalization and performance. The companies were rated on the speed with which they responded, the persistence of their outreach, the personalization of their email responses and the performance of their email deliverability. Each company received a letter grade in each category based on a best-practices grading scale. Only 7 companies earned an overall “A” grade, with a surprising majority (65%) receiving a “C” or lower grade.

Highlights of the research revealed:

  • 111 (34%) of the 327 companies surveyed never responded to the sales lead.
  • Only 1 of 216 companies that responded earned an “A” in all four categories.
  • Only 8% met the 5-minute response time best practice. And the average was 52 hours.
  • More than half the companies made contact no more than 2 times before giving up, even though best practice is 8 or more.
  • Though including a personal greeting or signature increases the likelihood of lead response, 30% of companies didn’t personalize their communication in any way.

“Several of the results were surprising and a bit appalling,” comments Alex Terry, Conversica’s CEO. “We compared best-practice research with real-world execution and found that in many cases even direct website inquiries—presumably the hottest of prospects—were being ignored. The good news is that several companies showed outstanding lead follow-up practices and earned the top A grade, including Salesforce, Marketo, Zend Technologies, Anderson Subaru of Pensacola, Florida and Waldorf College in Forest City, Iowa.”

The report was derived from research conducted over two months using secret shopper personas seeking information about each company’s product or service. In each case, the secret shopper submitted a website inquiry or sent an email request to the company’s published “contact us” address. Both email and telephone responses were tracked, tallied and assessed to determine grades.

“Despite clear processes and KPIs, pursuing first-touch leads is tedious and labor intensive for humans,” said Gerry Murray, Research Manager with IDC’s CMO Advisory Service. “That’s why most companies do not do it well. Unless it’s automated, an enormous amount of potential business simply falls through the cracks. An automated email agent can respond to 100% of leads 100% of the time and do so in a courteous and appropriate manner. Of course digital agents must pass the Turing Test so that the lead cannot tell if they are corresponding with a machine. For simple interactions in a well-defined context like lead qualification, digital agents are increasingly passing with flying colors.”

“Sales leads are valuable assets — but they lose their value without thorough follow-up,” says Terry. “With large numbers of sales teams not executing even the simplest follow-up best-practices, it’s clear that these leads are not getting the attention they require. This report shines light on which companies and which industries are putting best practices to work and which are falling short.”

Conversica’s 2015 Sales Effectiveness Report: Lead Follow-Up breaks down company performance within B2B (Technology, Media/Publishing and Telecommunications) and B2C (Automotive, Brokerage, Education, Insurance, Mortgage and Real Estate) industries. The full report can be downloaded at and companies may request their own personalized assessment at

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Gary Thompson
Clarity Communications
[email protected]