A lot has been written about best practices for effective lead follow-up and engagement. But if your company isn’t doing it well – for example, if your emails aren’t getting delivered or read – how would you ever know?
You wouldn’t because you don’t know what you don’t know.
So when it comes to lead follow-up, it’s critical that organizations be excellent at the basics. I call this the four Ps: promptness, persistence, personalization, and performance.
Promptness: You need to be fast if you want to be first.
Persistence: One or two tries are rarely enough.
Personalization: Prospects want conversation, not promotion.
Performance: An email snagged in the spam filter looks like a non-response to a lead.
Most companies think they do these well. But how are they really doing? Conversica decided to find out. We commissioned a secret shopper from UC Berkeley to secret-shop companies from nine industries (media/publishing, technology, telecommunications, automotive, brokerage, education, insurance, mortgage lending and real estate) posing as a hot lead. The results can be found in the 2015 Sales Effectiveness Report on Lead Follow-up, and they are eyeopening.
First, let’s talk about the basics. Of the 327 companies contacted, just more than 30 percent did not respond at all. Here’s how those that did respond performed on these four metrics.
Extensive research demonstrates that the faster the connection with a lead, the higher the likelihood of converting them to a customer. Yet only 8 percent of companies that responded did so within 5 minutes, the time when qualifying and conversion is most likely. More than 30 percent took more than 24 hours.
The industry that far outperformed the others in promptness was automotive, where 57 percent of the companies received an A grade.
Interestingly, of the companies that received an A or B for promptness, more than 92 percent used email to make that first personalized contact.
Connecting with a lead is crucial, but one attempt is almost never enough to be effective. Best practice research proves that an increased number of attempts yield increased conversions. Yet 53 percent of the companies made only one or two attempts to reply to the lead and then gave up.
The automotive industry stood out from the others again, with 57 percent receiving an A. The runner-up was technology, where 22 percent received an A.
Marketing research is clear: Personalized communications – such as including a personal greeting or signature – dramatically increases the likelihood of a positive response. Yet 30 percent of companies in the study did not personalize their communication in any way.
More than 70 percent had some personalization, although only 8 percent received an A for doing it well. Shockingly, 30 percent of companies received an F for a complete lack of personalization.
To assess performance, the likelihood that an email would reach its intended target (rather than end up in a spam or junk mail folder) was measured. And as it turns out, only 42 percent of the organizations’ emails to leads were likely to land in the lead’s inbox – the remainder were headed for the spam filter.
Notably, a high personalization score was not a predictor of a high performance score, but a low performance score directly correlated to a low level of personalization.
Most organizations think they’re doing well at lead follow-up. But the fact is we’ve all had that experience where we reach out for information and never hear back – and it turns out that in reality this and other poor practices happen all the time. The good news is that it’s not that hard to do better: By just responding promptly, persistently, personally and properly, any company can be an A performer.
is svp at (www.conversica.com).
Edited by Rory J. Thompson