There is an undeniable disconnect between sales and marketing. Yes, your website is getting visitors. Your marketing is working. You’re attracting attention, and potential customers are curious to find out more about you. You know for a fact that customers are entering the pipeline, but somehow they get lost along the way. Your sales are not congruent with your marketing efforts.
Sound familiar? Well, today I’m going to solve all of your problems — well, at least the ones related to sales.
Most businesses are making one crucial mistake when it comes to managing the sale funnel: the timing of the follow-up.
It seems like the natural order of business: someone says hello, and then you say hello back. It turns out that most salespeople never respond, and those who do respond wait over two days to say hello. In fact, on average, it’s 46 hours and 53 minutes. Pretty awkward when you’re waiting for someone to say hello. That’s an excruciatingly long time in our “need answers now” culture.
But, before we delve into the timing of the follow-up, let’s look at how many leads actually grow cold, wither away, and die.
Market research shows that, as a whole, salespeople do not follow through on 70% of leads. That’s a startling number that sure sends shivers up my spine. Everyone hates cold-calling, but if a lead comes to you with actual interest (maybe via a successful marketing strategy), it’s unthinkable to not contact them.
But, before you grab your torches and pitchforks, let’s not take all of our anger and pent-up hostility on the humble (okay, not so humble) salesperson. A lot of businesses suffer from a faulty infrastructure where a lead, coming from your website, falls down a rabbit hole and is never seen or heard from again. It results from having a poor plan in place. I’ve heard of companies where leads didn’t reach their intended destination for 24 hours or more. So, lynch the IT department then?
Actually, the answer lies in awareness of the problem, and then taking the necessary steps to correct it. It’s really about learning how to take traditional sales and adapt it to the online medium.
In my absurd scenario above, of course you wouldn’t wait two days before responding to a person in front of you. But, when you’re interacting with a faceless online entity, it’s so much easier to procrastinate and not respond immediately. That can be a benefit in some scenarios, but in sales, it’s bad business.
Understanding Lead Value
First, we need to address the pink elephant in the room. There’s a tendency among many salespeople to devalue the worthiness of a lead. This is especially true for “been-there, done-that” salespeople. Yes, time is money, and many salespeople do not have the time to waste on maybes.
What they do not see the overwhelming importance of lead nurturing. A high quality lead may still be in the research phase and not be ready to purchase yet, but upwards of 70% will eventually buy the product — and if not from you, from your competitors.
A lot of companies suffer from a flawed view that if a lead will not immediately turn into a customer, it’s not worth it to connect. Studies show that 65% of B2B marketers have not established lead nurturing. But, those who have a plan in place see a 20% increase in sales opportunities. Just something to think about.
Get Punctual With Your Follow-Up
If a lead contacts you, it’s a good bet that they’re interested in purchasing from you. The timing may not be immediate, but if you embrace the practice of lead nurturing, it will happen immediately.
However, as a salesperson, it’s not up to you to predict or even force the sale. Customers hate a forced sale anyway, and often regret it. Your main function is to connect. In fact, marketing is about presenting, and sales is about connecting.
As customers become more acclimated to online research, it appears that there’s less of a need for interaction — at least initially. We know that 60% of the buying cycle occurs before a lead speaks with anyone in your company. Having a well-stocked website is a good thing, because it allows potential customers to understand your product before engaging with you.
But, the pipeline isn’t fully automated. There comes a point where a potential customer will need to speak to you before pulling the trigger. Oftentimes, buyers are persuaded by another human. Sometimes, the simple feature of having an online chat on your website is enough to answer simple questions.
However, for those larger questions that may require picking up the telephone and calling — Are you immediately ready?
Note: I didn’t say are you ready, I said are you immediately ready?
Here’s some juicy statistics for you:
The odds of reaching a lead if you call within five minutes is 100 times higher than if you wait until 30 minutes to call. In fact, if you wait 10 minutes to place a call, the odds that you’ll contact that lead on the first try decreased dramatically.
Another important thing to keep in mind is that the odds of qualifying a lead are 21 times higher if contacted within the first 5 minutes. This is in contrast to waiting 30 minutes to call.
Going back to the earlier statistic, most salespeople wait 46 hours and 53 minutes to call. That’s 46 hours and 48 minutes too long.
Of course, all of this is if the salesperson contacts the prospect at all.
Imagine all of the potential leads that go off to another company. They may not be ready to buy, but they will eventually buy with whomever nurtures them.
Your Five Point Action Plan
Fortunately, you can turn this around, and if you do, you’ll instantly be doing more than the reported 55% of companies who don’t respond at all to generated leads.
1. Call Back Immediately
As we’ve seen, calling a lead within five minutes of their initial attempt to contact you is a non-negotiable path to success.
If you don’t have the sales manpower to make an immediate call back, then route the call to a teleservice agent. Make sure that teleservice agent is empowered to answer any basic questions that the prospective customer may ask. Also, it’s important that the agent extends the same level of warmth and professionalism that’s embodied by your brand’s personality.
That immediate call back will show your customers that you respond instantly to questions and concerns, which is a powerful motivator for getting leads to trust, and ultimately buy from, you.
2. Call Back Repeatedly
This one is big. Statistics show that the average salesperson only attempts to call a potential lead 1.3 times before moving on. However, if you want to reach a lead, especially if you’re not immediately calling back, you need to make somewhere between eight to ten calls.
Plan to make at least six calls before you reach a lead. Only 10% of salespeople make six calls. If you can do that, you’re ahead of the competition by a country mile.
Persistence pays off.
3. Call Back on the Right Day
This assumes that you’re calling a lead outside of the five minute return window. Research shows that Wednesdays and Thursdays are the best days to call a lead if you’d like to make contact. The least popular day? Tuesday.
There’s a 49% difference between Tuesday and Thursday in regards to contacting a lead.
4. Call Back at the Right Time
Now that you know which day to call on, here’s the optimal time: between 4pm to 6pm. This is the sweet spot where everyone’s ending the day and ready to make some decisions.
Another good time to call is between 8am to 9am, right at the beginning of a work day. Not only is this a good time to qualify a lead, you can also set appointments during this time, and field questions. Although not as good as the late afternoon, the morning time reaches customers before they get jaded by the day’s events.
The worst time to call? After lunch. Everyone is sluggish, irritable, and otherwise occupied, if they’re even at their desk.
5. Nurture Leads
The fact of the matter is that not everyone will buy from you immediately, and that’s okay — as long as you get them eventually. With lead nurturing, you’re building a long-term relationship with a potential customer. You already have their contact information and what they’re interested in purchasing. Now, you personalize your approach toward them. Earn trust by having real conversations and answering questions that will arise.
It’s Time To Convert Those Leads!
Hopefully, I was able to provide the basics of aligning your marketing and sales tactics to increase your revenue. It’s all about calling immediately and calling often. You’ll be surprise at how implementing those two small strategies will increase your lead conversion. Patch up those holes in your pipeline!
Which step will you take today to get more sales?