We’re delighted to be co-sponsoring this blog post with the North American Equipment Dealer Association (NAEDA).
It’s a generally accepted principle that speed of followup matters in sales success. This won’t come as news to anyone doing sales or reading sales literature. However, we decided to see how that principle was impacting our clients by doing an informal check-in with a few 40Nuggets customers about their practices in following up on leads they convert through 40N. As this post is a co-sponsorship between 40Nuggets and the North American Equipment Dealers we decided to focus our efforts on North American equipment dealers.
The three companies we checked with are B2B, focused on a sector of heavy machinery, and based in the US. Their practices varied widely. One company had a policy of near-instant followup by phone and personalized email – usually within 20 minutes of a lead converting, and often under five minutes. Whenever possible, this included international customers, including those who don’t speak English or Spanish (in which company employees are fluent) . The other two companies had slower followup, one “as soon as possible” and the other within 24 hours. In the latter case they occasionally phone, but just as often use a canned email – often it seemed to vary based on how busy the sales team was.
In terms of the visitor pool to their website (i.e., top of their internal funnel), the companies are using a similar 40Nuggets setup to optimize for lead conversions. They’re getting similar results, and the behavioral profiles that our algorithm is acting on look like they’re seeing on a client base that shares characteristics.
When it comes to results, however, they come out as you’d expect. The company reps that call a lead within minutes a) reach their leads at a higher rate and b) seem to be converting more of them to sales (which is logical – to score field goals you have to shoot the basketball/kick the football/futbol). This is excellently explicated in a Harvard Business Review study from a few years ago: there’s a 100x drop in likely contact if you wait 30 minutes to follow up. (Steve Olenski summarizes the study in Forbes here, and be sure to check out the perspective of the study’s initiator Ken Krogue, founder of InsideSales.com).
Moreover, again informally, we got the sense that email followup–and remember emails are not being sent immediately or auto-triggered–has a terrible contact rate, something close to ten percent versus nearly 90% when it comes to immediate phone followup.
The lessons aren’t new, but it’s worth reiterating: all the conversion optimization in the world, no matter how intelligent, won’t help your bottom line unless the sales followup piece is strong. While marketing automation allows for some nice auto-engagement techniques for lead nurturing, when it comes to B2B sales, there’s no substitute for a well-designed phone followup protocol. Even if you’re an SMB struggling with resources, it’s best if that call goes out within a minute of the lead conversion.