Lead management is essential to growing your business. What is lead management? After you generate a new lead from an event, a web form fill, email response, or some other buying signal from inbound or outbound lead generation efforts happens.
Follow Up, Follow Up, Follow Up
If you owned a store, would you ignore the people that visit and browse your products? When you don't follow up with leads, you're ignoring someone in your store. Guess what? Some 77 percent of leads receive no follow-up. These are people that initiated contact at an event or on a website. Reach out to them.
One of the biggest mistakes marketing and sales teams make is failing to follow up on leads quickly (see below). How quickly and how often you follow up will be the most significant factor in determining your lead management's effectiveness.
How and When to Follow Up on Leads
OK, so you know you need to follow up on your leads, but how? When? A study published in the Harvard Business Review reviewed 100,000 sales calls across industries to determine how to get the most impact with the least effort. Here is some of what the study found.
- Five minutes. Contacting prospects within five minutes of engagement—say they filled out a form on your website—is ten times more successful than afterward and 900 percent more successful than 10 minutes after an action. None were qualified after 10 hours.
- Six calls. Sales reps that made six follow-up calls were 90 percent more successful than a single call. Fewer than 10 percent of reps made six calls.
- Wednesday and Thursday. These are the best days to qualify leads. Calls on Thursdays, for example, were 49 percent more successful than calls on Tuesdays. Qualification, HBR said, is "the stage in the lead nurturing process where the lead is willing to enter the sales process."
- Late afternoon. Between 4:00-5:00 PM is the best time of day to make calls. Calls made in that time frame were 164 percent more successful than calls made between 1:00-2:00 PM.
Maximize Your Efficiency
At first glance, you might not think calling every contact within five minutes of engagement is an efficient use of your time. However, the numbers don't lie. If calling within five minutes is 900 percent more successful, it's much more efficient than waiting and scheduling follow-up calls for later in the day when people are less likely to connect.
To make the best use of your time:
- Save your outbound prospecting for the optimal days and times.
- Make sure your alerts for incoming leads are loud and clear so you can act quickly.
- Schedule your five follow-up calls and emails right away.
Read more: How to Effectively Leverage a Virtual Sales Assistant
Prequalify to Save Time
However, just because someone filled out a form on your website doesn't mean they are a lead. The contact might be a job candidate or a vendor, for example. You can quickly prequalify contacts by checking a social media site like LinkedIn to determine the first level of qualification:
- Is the person in the industry you serve?
- Is the company the right size for your product or service?
- Does the contact have a role in the company that buys your product or service?
A quick prequalification can prevent wasting time by you and the contact. Just don't take more than five minutes to do it!
Should You Call or Email
The study found that 28 percent of leads were followed-up with a phone call. Email follow-ups are a lot easier to perform. That's probably why 77 percent (HBR) of businesses use automated emails as a follow-up. However:
- 57 percent of people who receive an unrequested email think it is SPAM and don't open it.
- Phone outreach has a response rate of 8.1 percent, compared to .03 percent for email.
Yes, email is easier to send. It's also easier to ignore. And while no one would say that they like cold calls, 75 percent of buyers said that the most significant factor in whether they connect with you is a need for your product or service. Whether by email or phone, the goal is to find the people who need what you sell. If someone filled out a form on your website, they are more likely to fall into this category than a cold prospect. And because up to 50 percent of opportunities buy from the first company that contacts them, an automated email plus and an immediate phone call are your best bets.
Technology is great. Automated emails and workflows can keep a steady stream of information flowing to your prospects and help keep you top of mind when the need for your solution arises. Chatbots can answer simple questions on the spot. But when it comes to managing leads as they engage with your business, an immediate personal follow-up is far more likely to lead to the next level of engagement.
Related: How to Create an Inbox Management System that Saves Time
Need More Resources?
New leads are the lifeblood of business, and lead management is critical to transforming new leads into new customers. If you find that you can't follow up at the optimal times and frequencies, it might be time to add resources.
If you're falling behind in your lead follow-ups, consider engaging a virtual assistant to help your business or team get back on track stay ahead of the curve. Lead management is an ideal use case for this model of executive support. You can easily outsource tasks like immediate and scheduled follow-ups to a skilled assistant.
To learn more about how a virtual assistant can give you more leverage and boost your productivity, download our guide to working with a Prialto VA.
About the Author: Bill is Prialto's senior content marketing manager and writes about the future of work and how businesses can be more productive and successful. His work has appeared in the World Economic Forum Agenda blog and CIO magazine.