What’s the point in spending money generating inbound leads if you don’t have the infrastructure in place to handle those inbound leads properly and turn those leads into sales?

More and more companies find themselves in a position where their leads sit idle in their CRM system (if they even have one). Leads that cost a small fortune to generate. This is true for B2B and B2C companies. For B2C companies this tends to be true for higher-ticket items such as travel, flights, cruises, etc. where the deal is complicated and requires a number of 3rd party providers to submit information before a proposal can be sent.

For these types of businesses it is vital to have a solid lead response management strategy that addresses the following key points:

Response time

Your potential customers have come to expect to be able to get information and answers at the click of a button, when and where they want. Today, the faster your business responds to inbound leads, the higher your chances of qualifying those leads, getting them into your sales funnel and ultimately closing the sales..

The longer you take to respond the more opportunity you are affording your competitors as a result of your potential customer becoming frustrated and contacting other companies, or simply due to them losing focus and no longer being in the buying mind frame, they were when they first enquired.

On the contrary, if you DID respond quickly, you would build trust, create a positive experience with the customer and start the sales process before one of your competitors got the chance..

According to The Lead Response Management Study, the odds of calling to contact a lead decrease by over 10 times in the first hour and the odds of qualifying a lead in 5 minutes versus 30 minutes drop 21 times. And from 5 minutes to 10 minutes the “dial to qualify” odds decrease 4 times.

Persistence

It is one thing to respond quickly to enquiries, but you also have to be persistent to ensure you give each lead the best chance of being qualified and converting. On average, the majority of salespeople will make 2 attempts to contact a lead before calling it quits. Today, studies have clearly shown that it takes 8 attempts to reach a lead.

Make sure you have a process set up where your sales reps follow up with each prospect 8 times before throwing in the towel.

Process

Document a clear process of how your inbound leads are handled from receiving the lead to closing the sale. This needs to be an organization-wide document as often the entire funnel exists over numerous teams, so everyone needs to be aligned. The document should outline how you define a good lead vs a lead that does not match your qualifying criteria. It should detail (step-by-step) the process to follow and what steps each lead should go through at every stage of the sales pipeline. The document should cover lead response time policies, the number of attempts before giving up on a lead, and how a new lead is qualified and graded before being passed to your salespeople.

For any lead response management process to work, sales and marketing need to communicate effectively and work towards the same milestones and end goals.

Expertise

Make sure that your salespeople have the skills and ability to sift the diamonds from the dirt. They need to be able to identify which leads are worth chasing and which leads are going to waste time, not be an ideal customer and lead to churn or are simply not ready to purchase at this time.

There is no point in having a salesperson who can’t sell. Your business will be far better off in the long run if you hire the best salespeople you can afford and incentivize them with commission and sales targets.

If you can get the above right you’ll reap the rewards. But even once you have the above in place, there are some common mistakes that companies experience that are worth noting before you start the journey of setting up your lead response management process:

  • Too many leads to handle or poor distribution of leads across your sales team.
  • Fluctuations in lead volumes and not having the capacity to handle the spikes.
  • A lack of outbound calling and email etiquette skills.
  • Not tracking the true cost of lead generation and acquisition costs.