Many sales teams are failing to be prompt, persistent and personalized in their follow-up to inbound inquiries – and that’s if they even respond to leads in the first place, according to research from Conversica. Indeed, around one-third of the 538 B2B and B2C companies contacted across nine industries did not respond at all to a direct, specific contact inquiry.
The study organized lead follow-up effectiveness across 4 categories: promptness; personalization; persistence; and performance. Following are some of the highlights of the study across those metrics – with these specific figures limited only to those companies that did respond to queries.
Research shows that speed-to-call is extremely important in converting new leads, and the report found some gains in this area this year. A majority of companies responded within an hour, and 42% did so within the first 5 minutes.
On average, though it took 15 hours for companies to respond. Some 42% of companies received an A grade in this category, with these companies averaging 2 minutes to respond. By contrast, the companies receiving a D grade initially contacted leads between 9 and 14 days after inquiry.
The Education industry was the most likely to score an A in promptness, though the report notes a big increase in promptness among technology companies.
Virtually all (96%) of responding companies did so via email. The report considered 5 factors when evaluating email responses for personalization: personalized greeting; personal email account for the sender; specific mention of the lead’s inquiry; inclusion of specific contact information for the lead to continue the conversation; and time patterning (sending at times relevant to the lead).
This year, 53% of companies scored an A in personalization, while 15% scored a D or F. Those with a score of A averaged at least 4 personalization elements, while on average companies used 2 personalized elements. D-graded companies, though, averaged a single personalized element.
Auto companies had the highest personalization grades, followed by brokerages and media companies.
To judge persistence, Conversica counted the total number of times a company attempted contact by phone or email over a 21-day period. They found that 17% of companies made at least 8 contact attempts, defined here as an A grade. By contrast, the majority (55%) of companies only attempted contact 1 or 2 times, defined as a D grade.
On average, companies attempted to contact leads 3 times before giving up.
Auto was once again a top-performer, this time for persistence, with 41% of auto companies receiving an A grade.
In order to calculate performance, Conversica looked at email deliverability, using a tool to see how likely the content of an email wold be to trigger spam filters. The vast majority of companies scored a B (75%) on this metric, with just 2% scoring an A. The media/publishing industry (8%) was the most likely to score well.
Interestingly, all of the companies earning an A in performance also earned an A in personalization.
The full report is available here.
About the Data: Commissioned researchers visited company websites from nine industries, covering both business-to- consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B). Companies were selected by compiling rankings from sources such as Forbes, Bloomberg and industry-specific publications. Rankings include such factors as market share, annual revenues and market capitalization. The researchers then chose an equal number of companies from the top, middle and bottom segments of these rankings.
The research was conducted over the course of one month, using different secret shopper personas to solicit contact from various companies. If a company’s website had a form available for inquiries, researchers used that method of contact. If not, they used the email address provided on the website. Companies who offered neither an inquiry form nor an accessible email address were not surveyed. Web-based and email inquiries were made only during standard business days and hours, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT.