Have a Hot Lead? Don’t Fall Down on the Follow-Up

Photo Credit: William Iven

Marketers and sales leaders have access to mountains of data available to analyze buyer behavior, demand generation channels, ROI, nurture tracks, sales cycles and a myriad of other metrics. As all the focus is on dissecting buyer analytics and creating nurture processes, I’m noticing that companies are actually missing the boat on the basics — lead follow-up.

I recently spoke with a VP of Sales Operations about lead processing in CRM when he said, “You know what kills me Cindy? I attend quite a few conferences and spend time talking to different solution providers. We have a great chat, I’m interested and they say that they’ll contact me to arrange a meeting the following week. Then I’ll never hear from them again.” Now this is someone who is a hot lead by both demographic and behavior scores and he doesn’t get a follow-up?

This conversation led me to think back to all the conferences I’ve attended where my badge was eagerly scanned, and the booth staff typing away on the handheld with notes. I estimate that the post-event call or email follow-up I received is less than 20%, and I was by all definitions a solid lead with budget authority. To test this, I polled a random sampling of twenty B2B technology professionals, and the preliminary results were consistent. The average response indicated that only 15–20% of solution providers followed up with an email or phone call the week after an event or after completing a web contact form. They were all in a buy cycle and the companies that contacted them back had the advantage. I don’t believe any company wants to see hot leads go untouched, so the issue must be with the process.

Think your company might have a lead follow-up issue? Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who is accountable for ensuring leads are processed in the CRM/Marketing Automation solution and distributed?
  • How are leads distributed today? Is it by urgency, geography, territory, industry, or other?
  • How long does it take (in hours) to send the first follow-up message or call?
  • How many times is a lead contacted when there’s no response?
  • Who is accountable to go back post-campaign and ensure follow-up did occur?

If you cannot clearly articulate the process and your answers included “unsure” or “don’t know”, then your company likely has a lead loss problem. If the average event lead costs $1,000, you can’t afford a 10% follow-up rate to justify ROI and risk an even greater issue — turning off that prospect and losing the opportunity.

Lead follow-up processes don’t have to be complex. Before your company starts down the path of leveraging data and analytics to put leads in the right “track”, start simple and consider these three success factors:

  • Speed — Time kills deals. Create a touch point that acknowledges and thanks their interest on the same day whether they filled out a contact us form on your website, visited your booth, attended a webinar, etc.
  • Frequency — Don’t stop at the first contact with no response. Aim for 3–5 touchpoints and if there’s still no response, mark the lead for future re-heat campaigns.
  • Accountability — Follow-up on the follow-up. Here’s an idea, create and automate a one-question survey to have the prospect rate the quality of communication with the company. I implemented this at a former company and discovered the survey was often the follow-up (that quickly changed).

As the lines between sales and marketing continue to blur, both are accountable to ensure a proper lead follow-up process. Leverage the CRM and marketing automation tech stack your company has access to, and automate as much as you can with workflow alerts post-campaign to track follow-up. With technology and some good old-fashioned phone calls, there is no excuse for 80% of leads to go untouched. So don’t get distracted by the mechanics of follow-up, and just contact the prospect.

Originally published at www.linkedin.com.