Sales lead follow up – thats where the money is

Why are companies so bad at the sales lead follow up? OK – before I start a little rant, I need to admit that I’m not perfect, none of us are. This blog post applies to me as much as it applies to so many others.

As a marketer, my life is spent trying to engage with audiences: prospects, cold data, customers, lapsed customers, networks of people who might know people that I need to connect with – you get the picture. So much of our time and money is spent trying to grab someones attention and getting them to react by getting in touch via social media, phone, email or contact form.

If that’s the case – why do so many companies suck at the sales lead follow up?

Recently I had the need to recruit a supplier in a market sector that I have no prior experience of. So I did what most people nowadays, I took to Google. I clicked on some of the PPC adverts. Found companies that seemed to be right, and submitted contact forms and also called those companies. In every case the phone went to voicemail – not good, but they are small businesses so maybe everyone is busy making things happen.

I also discovered a directory site which had details of about 35 companies that looked right for the task. These companies have paid to be on that website. I checked out all the companies and sent enquiries to about 25 of them.

All of these companies specifically stated in their directory listing – that they paid for – that they could do what I needed.

Guess how many responses I have had from connecting with 28 companies that have paid to get my attention and sales lead.

11% Follow Up

THREE – that’s right, just 3 companies.

One respondent was clearly on a fishing trip, keen to discover what I was up to – it felt that he really wanted to work out whether this was something he could copy and take to market himself!

The second was a very helpful lady, who quickly identified that they could not help, but suggested a couple of others who could. I had already left my details with both those companies!

The third respondent – and actually the first to answer my enquiry – is about to get the order for the initial contract.

But what about the 25 others? Are they really so busy that they don’t have the time to respond to a sales enquiry? It’s more likely that they have no sales lead follow up process or accountability.

It’s not that surprising really. I have worked with companies who didn’t even know where the forms on the web ended up once submitted. I have opened a cupboard at one client that was stacked high with boxes of paper based leads. No one knew what to do with them, so they just hid them away. I have even worked with a company that employed a team of telemarketers that made hundreds of cold calls every day. Yet would not respond to an inbound enquiry because they couldn’t measure it in the management reports!

A study conducted in the US in 2016 suggests that as much as 90% of small to medium sized businesses don’t routinely follow up on the sales enquiries their business receives. In my recent experience, just 11% of businesses followed up. Any business serious about growing their revenues only has to make some minor changes to their operating procedures and they will guarantee success.

As a marketing consultant who’s next project is based on the success of the last one, I know that the most important aspect of any lead generation programme is how you handle any sales lead that you generate. Here are 5 tips to make the most of every hard won sales lead.

5 Top Tips For Effective Sales Lead Follow Up

  1. Before you start your campaign, make sure that you have a process mapped out for handling every type of lead.
  2. Agree with the sales team upfront what constitutes a good sales lead.
  3. Don’t be afraid to discover that you are generating the wrong leads – learn the lesson and adjust your campaign.
  4. Know all your campaign stats – views, visits, clicks, forms, calls etc. But also the data relating to the leads you hand over: dead lead, sales call, prospect, proposals issued and their value. And WINS – don’t forget the loss report as well.
  5. Aim for a 100% follow up to every enquiry.

Oh, BTW – I still need contacts in contract sewing services providers for a start up making funky golf head covers.

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