It’s time for a lead follow-up intervention (boy, do these stats suck)


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I realize that you can make a survey say anything, and clearly Velocify has a vested interest in demonstrating how bad lead follow-up is currently, but these statistics are still startling.

In conjunction with a couple partners, Velocify recently released the results of a survey outlining how today’s buyers engage with sellers, and how sellers react.

There’s some great information here about what channels and devices buyers user to research and inquire, both for business and personal inquiries, but the data that really stuck out to me was around seller response rates.

For example, according to the survey:

  • 70 percent of buyer inquiries were completely ignored
  • 64 percent of buyers said their purchase decision was impacted by slow seller response
  • Over 40 percent of buyers said a 24-hour response window was still too slow
  • 72 percent of buyers admitted that the first seller to respond has the advantage

Keep in mind that these are buyer-reported figures. So what the seller may consider lead follow-up may not have in fact registered as follow-up with the buyer.

In fact, I bet plenty of salespeople make a single call, give up on the prospect, and yet the prospect is still waiting for contact.

Meanwhile, your more-persistent competitor got through and got the deal.

There are a variety of ways to interpret and spin the data here, but the message in my mind is extremely clear.

If you get a lead, follow up immediately. Buyers also reported that on average they contact three prospective sellers, so once that lead comes in the clock is very much ticking.

Continue following up at least 2-4 times until you reach the prospect. Velocify’s data indicated that within a 30-day period, 75 percent of buyers are fine being attempted via phone 2-4 times, and via email about the same amount of times.

Your buyers are busy, they aren’t always there for your first call, but keep trying. Your response rates, sales pipeline, sales manager and commission check will thank you for it.

Check out the full survey results here.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Matt Heinz
Prolific author and nationally recognized, award-winning blogger, Matt Heinz is President and Founder of Heinz Marketing with 20 years of marketing, business development and sales experience from a variety of organizations and industries. He is a dynamic speaker, memorable not only for his keen insight and humor, but his actionable and motivating takeaways.Matt’s career focuses on consistently delivering measurable results with greater sales, revenue growth, product success and customer loyalty.


  1. Matt, these stats could be misleading if applied to all B2B “leads.”

    The survey is about buyers submitting online forms. Quoting from the survey landing page:

    To better understand the expectation and experiences of online buyers, Zogby Analytics was commissioned by Velocify and PossibleNOW to conduct an online survey of more than 1,000 adults in the U.S. who had submitted an online form requesting information or expressing interest in a product or service with a value of $1,000 or more.

    In other words, if some already has an interest, submits an online form then it’s critically important to respond quickly. These are probably high-quality leads, and time is of the essence.

    But it doesn’t mean that a prospect who just downloaded a thought leadership paper (designed to educate an early-stage buyer) should be called instantly. I think that would do more harm than good. Most of these “leads” should be nurtured, not called immediately.

    Velocify’s roots are in B2C for things like mortgages and other very “perishable” opportunities. For these sorts of leads, time really does matter. Sometime seconds are better than minutes. But not all leads need this treatment.

    I wrote about Velocify (formerly Leads360) in 2010 at Leads360 empowers B2C marketers with predictive lead management.

    I do think there is a great opportunity for predictive analytics to figure out the right cadence for lead follow-up. I’ll bet the answer (in B2B) is not as simple as “faster is always better.”

  2. Totally agree with you, this clearly is more about leads towards the end of the buying cycle vs. those in the education and data-gathering phase up front. That said, anytime a prospect asks for information, the clock is ticking. These are the “non-sexy” improvements many sales organizations can make to dramatically increase their success rates without adding more cost.

  3. I’m leery of any findings that come from studies sponsored by companies that are positioned to (surprise!) benefit from the results. If Big Tobacco has given us anything valuable, it’s an understanding about how research can be gamed for financial rewards.

    These stats are pretty broad-brush, even when “limited” to B2B. To give just one example, there are huge differences in how consumables are purchased compared to capital equipment. If we accepted these stats, we’d assume people bought industrial printing ink the same way they purchase multi-million dollar turbines for a power generation facility.

    What’s conspicuously absent from the study is context. There’s no recognition for the anticipated value of the purchase, the expected timeframe of the purchase decision, the complexity of the purchase in terms of how many people or departments will be involved, or whether the purchase would be expensed on the company’s P&L or counted as an asset. All of these variables (plus others) influence buyer expectations, and would make this research way more meaningful.

  4. According to the report produced from the survey, the context was a US adult “who had submitted an online form requesting information or expressing interest in a product or service with a value of $1,000 or more.” The split was 2/3 personal and 1/3 business.

    The top five types of purchases (accounting for about 70% of total) were:

    I think the most telling statistic is that more than half of the buyer inquiries were completely ignored, with business buyers faring even worse.

    One conclusion:

    In this new, highly competitive, high-velocity sales environment, buyers have expressed that they value quick responses to their inquiries and that they expect companies to be persistent within reason in their approach to contacting them via multiple modes of communication. Nevertheless, buyers' voiced experiences suggest that many companies are failing in these areas because a large number of buyers' inquiries are going unanswered.

    I think it’s pretty clear this is not complex B2B, which is not “high-velocity” sales. And that when a buyer asks a question, companies should answer the question, sooner the better. I really can’t see any context where ignoring potential buyers makes any sense at all.

    I recently made a purchase that fits the study’s parameters. And you know what, the company that got my order had a persistent and professional sales rep, who answered my questions, built some credibility and was price competitive. The company barely made my short list, and I didn’t seriously think they had a chance.

    I was surprised that my requests for info (via email) were largely ignored by larger firms who perhaps thought their brand meant they didn’t have to try, or were simply not organized to engage on a time-sensitive purchase.

  5. Helpful post Matt. Regardless of the context, the market, the method or the madness, the stats do tell the story of lead feedback.

    I wrote an article back in September that included some very cool infographics showing the time frames that were most critical for lead follow up.

    I’ll link to it here because it’s relevant to what you wrote and the comments.


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