Is Inconsistent Follow-up Killing Your ROI?

Wondering why your company’s ROI isn’t soaring? It could be your approach to following up on obvious sales leads. Learn how to do better here.

Why don’t companies follow up with their obvious sales leads?

I have a 3-year old and a 9-month old at home, and I recently bought new furniture. For me, getting fabric protection on this investment made a tremendous amount of sense.

To learn more about fabric protection and likely make a purchase, I contacted a furniture protection company. I was referred to this company by a friend, and I did all the things we marketers work incredibly hard to get prospects to do.

I went to the company website. I filled out a form. I clicked the big “submit” button. Then, I waited for a response...which never came.

It was extremely disappointing and frustrating. Here I was, ready to buy, quickly—and they didn’t even bother writing me back!

It’s B2B Companies Too

It’s not just consumer companies that are failing at prospect follow-up.

Here at Adept, we were looking for an analytics company to conduct training for our entire organization (because we all need to know analytics, not just our analytics teamand they’re too busy supporting clients to train our internal team!).

So, we found a company that specializes in analytics training. We contacted them via the form on their websiteagain, exactly the process we marketers want prospects to follow. And just like me and my furniture protection need, no sales process was necessary; we were ready to buy.

Yet, we heard nothing. So we reached out directly to someone we knew at the company, and again, nothing. No follow up, no response. It’s absolutely mind-boggling!

1 in 4 Companies Don’t Respond to Leads

Shocking as it may seem, the furniture protection and analytics training companies aren’t the only ones ignoring sales leads. Not long ago, Harvard Business Review published the results of a study about lead responses.

Researchers surveyed companies by submitting sales leads to see how they'd respond. Of the 2,241 companies in the survey, 23% didn't respond at all.

That’s almost 1 in 4 companies that didn’t respond at all to their sales leads. Remember, these are leads that are asking them for their product or service! In addition:

  • It takes the average company 42 hours to respond to a lead
  • If a company responded within 1 hour, the sales rep was seven times more likely to schedule a conversation with an influencer or decision maker
  • Only 37% of companies responded within 1 hour

How could it be that this many companies are missing the clear opportunity to increase ROI?

Poor Follow-Up Is Killing Your Marketing ROI

As marketers, we’re hyper-focused on generating leads, and rightfully so. It’s our job to get the word out and spread our message as far and as wide as possible.

Search marketing, in particular, is about creating systems that pull people into a sales process at exactly the moment when they’re most in need of our services. The better we do, the more leads we generate. Yet, ultimately, the goal isn’t just to generate sales leads. It’s to generate revenue. (tweet this)

For most companies, there’s a massive opportunity to improve their revenue—simply by improving their follow-up on the leads they’re already receiving. In fact, out of all the things you can do to improve your ROI, improving follow-up might be the single easiest thing you can do.

If follow-up is a problem in your business, here are 5 steps to help you improve:

1. Set Rules for Timely Follow-Up

What gets measured gets improved, so start by setting rules about how sales leads should be handled in your business. Think about your business model and the way your current customers contact you. Do they call on the phone? Do they submit forms online? Do they come to your office or store in-person?

However you interact with your customers, setting rules for how you want your sales staff to respond will give you something to measure moving forward.

2. For Best ROI, Respond within 1 Hour

As the Harvard study numbers show, you’ll get much better results if you respond quickly. Respond within an hour if you can, or as quickly as makes sense for your business model.

That will help you catch the prospect quickly—before they’ve moved on to thinking about other options and other things.

3. Assign Staff on a Schedule

Customer support centers maintain coverage schedules for their reps, ensuring anyone who needs help can get it. Why not do the same thing for sales leads? Assign someone to be “on-point” for responding to leads for different periods of the day. Choose 24-hour coverage if it makes sense, or just schedule coverage during the day.

Either way, your goal is to have someone ready to respond to new sales leads at all times.

4. Use Templates You Can Personalize

Using a personalized template helps you respond quickly and professionally, but also with a personal touch. It can be a fancy template in your email system, or just a few lines you can cut and paste into a custom response.

5. Off Hours: Use Auto-Responders, then Follow-Up ASAP

During off-hours times, set an autoresponder to respond to incoming lead forms.

Let the person know their message has been received, and give them a clear indication that someone will follow up with them first thing in the morning. And then, make sure someone actually follows up!

The Fastest Way to Improve Marketing ROI

There are people, right now, who want to do business with you. Answering them consistently and quickly is the fastest way to improve your marketing ROI. And it’s good for your revenue numbers, too.

All it takes is a commitment to respond quickly when people reach out, and a process to make sure that response actually happens.

Have you had personal experience with follow-ups affecting ROIgood or bad? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!