09 February 2017 Category: Insider Perspective
Some companies are highly capable of attracting a healthy volume of inbound leads, through website enquiries, content downloads, landing page visits and other digital channels. However, this potentially valuable business opportunity can quickly die on the vine if there is no infrastructure in place to handle these leads swiftly, thoroughly and effectively.
Increasingly, firms across both the B2B and the B2C space are approaching us with precisely this issue. While it may sound completely familiar to companies in the B2B universe – huge sums spent on acquisition marketing only to discover vast quantities of leads sitting idle in the CRM. It is also an issue facing some B2C firms, particularly those that market higher-ticket items such as properties, cruises, luxury holidays, refurbishment projects, high-value training courses – the list goes on.
For these types of businesses, it’s crucial to have a robust lead response management strategy in place that takes the following important issues into consideration:
We are living in the era of instant gratification. Your prospects are used to getting the information they want at the touch of a button. In this context, the faster your agents respond to your inbound leads, the more likely they will be to convert these into genuine sales opportunities.
As more time elapses, you’re providing your prospects with more opportunity to grow frustrated, lose focus or interest, or be snapped up by a competitor. If you strike while the proverbial iron is hot, however, you’re more likely to connect with prospects who are still interested and engaged – before a rival firm does. You’ll also create a positive brand experience, positioning your company as one that respects people’s time and responds swiftly to queries or requests.
Research shows that responding to an inbound lead within 5 minutes makes a firm 7 times as likely to qualify the lead than those who respond within an hour; and 60 times as likely than those who respond after 24 hours or more. While every industry has its own optimal lead response time, there is little doubt that overall, faster is better for business.
In the lead response race, it’s advisable to take your cues from both the hare and the tortoise – aiming for both speed and perseverance. If your agents respond swiftly to enquiries, but quickly lose patience when they’re unable to make contact, then you’re just as likely to see your valuable leads go cold.
Some companies respond immediately to enquiries, but make too few contact attempts before moving on to the next lead on the list. Studies have indicated that the average salesperson makes only 2 attempts to reach a prospect before giving up. However, it takes around 8 attempts to reach a prospect today. It’s important to plan for the fact that most prospects – especially influencers and decision-makers – are busy people and your agents may need to call them many times before getting through. It’s a mistake to give up too quickly and burn through your list of inbound leads when a few of those leads (and you don’t know which ones yet) may be well worth the extra effort.
Many firms do not have a strategic, clearly defined and documented process for managing their inbound leads from enquiry to close. This needs to be an organisation-wide, step-by-step plan that pulls both the marketing and sales functions in the same direction. Essentially, everyone needs to be clear on what a good lead looks like and what actions they need to encourage prospects to take at every stage of the funnel. This process also needs to govern lead response times, the amount of follow-ups required, as well as how leads are ranked, rated or qualified before they are handed over to sales.
Sometimes firms do have a rough process in place, but this is not delivering the desired outcomes – perhaps because the sales agents are too outbound-focused or the alignment between the marketing and sales functions is not strong enough. For any lead response management process to work, sales and marketing need to communicate effectively and work towards the same milestones and end goals.
Do your agents have the skills and experience required to identify which inbound leads are genuine sales opportunities? And do they have the capacity to ensure that these leads are thoroughly qualified before they’re delivered into the sales pipeline?
A lack of experience or ability in either of these areas could generate pointless costs further down the funnel as sales specialists chase prospects who are unable, not ready, or not keen to buy.
All these issues considered, if your agents are not fast enough, persistent enough and skilled enough to run an effective lead response management function – you could lose a large proportion of your inbound web leads.
Can your business really afford to waste these valuable opportunities, especially considering how much you spend to acquire these leads in the first place?
There’s more to think about
While you may be aware of all these issues when you’re setting your lead response management goals, it is also important to assess whether you have the resources and systems in place to achieve these objectives. There are many reasons why lead response management teams with the best intentions fail to successfully implement their lead response management plans.
Some common pitfalls include:
- Too many leads to handle: Some companies find themselves in a position where they are attracting so many enquiries that their teams simply do not have the capacity to nurture these leads properly. One solution is automation. However, in today’s competitive B2B landscape, a once-off generic message is unlikely to engage your prospects. It’s worth putting in place a carefully structured follow-up schedule that combines real phone calls and voice messages with automated content from other platforms (such as email and SMS). Remember to structure this to suit each prospect category and stage of the sales cycle.
- Fluctuating volume of leads: From time to time, firms invest in a promotional campaign or event that attracts more leads than usual. In order to cope with a significant spike in lead volume, firms need to be sure that they have the capacity to scale up very quickly to continue responding to these leads as swiftly and persistently as they usually do. An uncharacteristically slow response could do a lot of damage to your brand’s reputation.
- A lack of outbound calling skills and experience: To deal effectively with each and every inbound lead, a firm needs a team of agents who have specialist outbound calling experience. This team also needs to be dedicated to this function to ensure efficient, continuous calling as well as accurate reporting on web lead conversion volumes and values.
- Tracking cost of acquisition and conversion: One challenge that many firms face is the inability to properly account for marketing spend or demonstrate ROI on marketing activity. The most effective way to track the cost of acquisition and conversion value of your web leads is by following up on every lead, so that you are fully able to report on return of investment from marketing spend.
We can help. No lead is left behind!
The Telemarketing Company has been very successful in turning high volumes of web leads in to genuine sales opportunities for our clients. We specialise in providing a rapid and thorough lead qualification service, calling back enquiries within tight SLAs and delivering rich opportunity to your team. Combined with our Hot Key Transfer model, we can turn your lead flow and backlog into a stream of qualified buyers on the phone fed directly to your sales team. Whether in B2B or B2C, if your average order is sizeable, a small increase in overall conversion rate, can have a massive impact on revenue that will more than justify the investment.
By partnering with the Telemarketing Company, you have access to an expert lead response management team that can provide the volume, flexibility and expertise that your in-house agents may be lacking. Call us on 01273 765 000 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and find out how we can turn your otherwise wasted web leads into valuable business opportunities.