The Most Important Thing Sales Can Do to Convert Marketing Leads

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There are a lot of factors that go into converting a marketing-generated lead into a sale, but there’s one element that seems to rise above the rest: quick follow up. But, don’t just take my word for it. Numerous studies outline that prompt follow up is the most important thing sales can do to convert marketing leads. 

3 Reasons Why Salespeople Should Immediately Follow Up with Marketing Leads

Here are a few fascinating studies on the importance of prompt follow up …

  1. You should try to make contact within the first hour that a lead comes in. According to a recent study conducted by Prof. James B. Oldroyd at MIT, waiting even an hour to contact and qualify a marketing-generated lead can drastically reduce your chances of success.
  2. Immediately following up in the first five minutes is even more valuable. You’re 400x more likely to get a response if you do this within the first 5 minutes of them downloading the content. (Source)
  3. Prompt follow-up allows you to qualify leads more effectively. Companies that contact leads within an hour of receiving a query are 7X as likely to qualify the lead as those that tried to contact the customer even an hour later—and more than 60 times as likely as companies that waited 24 hours or longer. (Source)
  4. Prompt follow-up helps you stand out from your competitors. The average response time, among companies that contacted leads within 30 days, was 42 hours. So, taking the time to develop a quick response process will help you rise above the rest. (Source)

How to Empower Sales for Quick Follow Up with Marketing Leads

So, how do you go about empowering sales to follow up with marketing leads within an hour? Here are a few important principles to consider: 

Sales and Marketing Teams Need to Be in Alignment Around the Process.

Without proper marketing and sales alignment, it’s easy for leads to fall through the cracks. By establishing processes for how and when leads are transferred to sales, each team focuses on what they do best.

Sales and Marketing Teams Need to Be in Agreement on the Definition of a Lead.

It’s important to ensure that everyone has the same definition of a lead and are aligned around focused goals. You need to make sure both teams are in agreement on things like quality vs. quantity and velocity vs. volume. Agreement on what is a marketing-qualified lead is the first step in ensuring a quick marketing-to-sales handoff.

Sales Teams Need to Be Committed to Prompt Follow-Up.

Responding within an hour can seem intimidating, especially if you’re just starting the process. Start by establishing current benchmarks for how quickly your sales team is following up on leads. From there set goals to shorten this time frame. The closer sales can get to the five-minute mark, the more likely they are to qualify and eventually convert a lead to a customer.

Sales Teams Need to Be Equipped with Information and Resources to Be Effective. 

If your sales team is going to follow up immediately, then they need to know exactly what generated the lead. It also might help to equip them with resources and tools to be more effective. It could be something as simple as creating email templates your business development team can use for conversations with prospective customers. Technology also provides an opportunity to send emails on behalf of your sales team as a way to further qualify leads for them.

Why Salespeople Don’t Follow Up with Marketing Leads

employee looking at phone screen with computer in the background
There’s one thing salespeople do that frustrates marketing more than anything else. Actually, to be more clear, it’s something they don’t do. When salespeople don’t follow up with marketing leads, a division between the two teams is bound to occur. But, what if there was a way to address this issue before we got to the board room standoff? Prior to marketing shaking their heads in frustration that sales isn’t following up with leads, it might be helpful to take a step back and ask why.  Identifying the reason salespeople don’t follow up with marketing leads and taking steps to address their issues will be a lot more effective in the long run than throwing your sales team under the bus.  It’s also worth mentioning that sales shouldn’t provide the common response that “these leads stink” when trying to determine the disconnect between sales and marketing. 

3 Reasons Why Salespeople Don’t Follow Up with Marketing Leads 

After dozens of conversations with business development teams over the past year, here are the three most common reasons that sales stop following up with marketing leads: 
They Aren’t Empowered with Enough Information
It’s important for marketing to provide salespeople with context when following up with leads. How did they show up on the lead list? Was it because of a contact form or download? What did they download? What are some of the pain points addressed in the resource? Equipping your salespeople with as much information as possible will help them create a better first impression with a prospective customer. This is why it’s important that your marketing and sales technology are in sync—so that salespeople can look back at everything a prospective customer has done (every download, website visit, etc.) when following up. 
They Don’t Recognize the Need to Nurture Leads
In today’s complex business world, a potential customer could be anywhere in the buying cycle when the rep calls. Some are ready to make a final decision, while others are just beginning to explore their options. Many salespeople often underestimate how long it takes for those leads to turn into sales. It’s important for marketing and sales leaders to sit down together, identify the average length of the sales cycle, and evaluate the buyer’s journey. Marketing needs buy-in from salespeople to keep circling back on leads, so that you both can get an accurate idea of how marketing leads perform over time.
The Don’t Feel Equipped with Resources to Last Throughout the Sales Cycle
Salespeople can easily feel overwhelmed by the expectation to nurture hundreds of potential sales conversations on their own, especially when they don’t feel equipped with resources to guide the prospective buyer through the sales cycle. As a result, they either give up on leads or push prospective customers away because they’re trying to close the deal before the lead is ready to buy.  To address this issue, it’s important for marketing to create sales-enablement tools that your team can actually use. You might not be able to force sales to use the tool you provided, but taking the time on the front end to create assets that work will save you a lot of time on fighting the eventual battle of neglecting leads. When there’s a breakdown with your business development team, the problem usually isn’t the leads. It’s how salespeople follow up on them. Make sure you address the real issue and remind both teams that sales and marketing alignment is essential for the success of both teams.