I had occasion recently to answer two questions relating to lead follow-up, discussions that readers of this blog might find of interest:
First, a prospective client wanted to convince his management that there was a business case to be made for installing a process by which sales leads would reach the sales force more quickly. He wanted to know if there were any industry benchmarks that would support his contention that leads have a fixed “shelf life” and that therefore it was important to follow up on them promptly.
We found the statistics we needed in a 2006 white paper by Knowledgestorm: “The Fine Art of Lead Management and Lead Follow-up.” The paper reads:
“The best time to contact a lead (especially an online lead) is the same day you receive it. A good marketing goal: call every lead within four days … Reaching a business lead within four business days significantly increases the likelihood that this lead will become a sales prospect. After seven business days, lead responsiveness dropped twenty percent.”
A few days later, on LinkedIn, I participated in a spirited and informative discussion on a similar topic, specifically how much to pursue prospects that show initial interest but then stop responding. The original question read (in part):
“When you generate a lead … and receive a positive response, you start the first level of talks (call or email) and (then) suddenly the lead disappears! I generally try to follow-up 3-5 times either through telephone or email. If still there is no response I move on. To what extent should we pursue the prospect by telephone/emails?”
When does lack of timely lead follow-up become a marketing vs. a sales issue? via @spearmktg
The question elicited some very informative responses, largely from people with considerable expertise in sales and sales operations. One expert recommended a minimum of 10 follow-up attempts! I chose to represent the marketing viewpoint, namely that after a fixed number of follow-up attempts, the onus (in my view) falls upon marketing, not sales:
“I expect a sales rep to make a reasonable best effort to re-engage with an interested prospect, but after a few such calls/e-mails (I’ll leave the sales experts to define what that number is) it should fall upon marketing to have in place an intelligent, personalized, rules-based lead nurturing program that triggers a series of automatic e-mails to those prospects, and then alerts the sales rep instantly when the prospect responds.
With today’s marketing automation technology, it’s possible to set up automated campaigns that trigger based on whatever criteria the user defines – one such criterion could be “leads that haven’t been touched in 45 days.” Or the sales rep can choose to manually add a lead to the lead nurturing list.”
Comments? Is lack of timely lead follow-up a sales issue, or a marketing issue? How much time, or how many attempts, should a sales rep be afforded before marketing “takes over”?