Sales Enablement Resolution #2 for 2014 – Responsiveness

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Happy New Year if this is your first day back at work in 2014.

Last week I posted our first resolution for the year, context.
This series of 3 posts highlight key differentiators in buyer-seller engagement.

If you get all 3 right this year, you will be unassailable in your ability to engage, differentiate and win new business.

I rank responsiveness as the most important of my three resolutions for 2014.

Responsiveness Trumps Everything Else

If you are reading this post and are skeptical… just try responding to inbound leads the moment they arrive in your system.

You will be amazed at how many more conversations you will have with prospective buyers who are actually pleased to talk to you.

As I write this, I’m reading the Inside Sales 2012 Retrospective: Five Years After the Original Lead Response Management Research Paper by MIT Professor, Dr. James Olroyd, which I find compelling and fascinating.

It is compelling because the results are definitive.
“Your odds of reaching a new sales lead drop over 10X if you wait longer than the first hour of shown interest, and the odds of qualifying that lead decrease 6X after the first 60 minutes.”

The Bottom line:
Response times to new sales leads should be measured in minutes and seconds, not hours or days.

A Green Field for Differentiation

It’s fascinating how few companies have jumped on this disruptive trend, when there are almost no competitors.

According to the Inside Sales Retrospective, despite more than 50,000 downloads of the original whitepaper since 2007, fewer than 1% of companies can respond to leads inside 5 minutes.

Our lead engagement has more than doubled since we started responding to leads within minutes of completing a form on our Website.

We don’t call people on weekends or well outside of business hours, but we do send a personal email response based on the details we’re able to glean from the form the visitor completes, their current and prior behavior and their LinkedIn profile.

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Persistence Matters Too

Responsiveness is priority #1, but persistence in response matters too. In the Inside Sales Dreamforce 2011 study, the average number of phone calls made to new leads was 1 and the average number of emails sent to new leads was 0.9.

A staggering 51.4% of companies never responded to leads.

“Companies invest hundreds of thousands, even millions of dollars building sales and marketing teams.
They develop Web sites, campaigns and strategies to generate opportunities for the sales team – but then fail to follow-up quickly and persistently.”

Why Not Do it Now?

My guess as to why this responsiveness paradigm has not been embraced has root causes in the opposites of another disruptive trend, Inbound Marketing.

  • We don’t get any leads!
  • We get too many leads and they are mostly junk!

Enabling Technology

  1. Inbound Marketing is critical for generating new leads.
  2. Power-dialers and call routing technology from companies like InsideSales.com make it easy to serve up the right sort of leads to a larger sales organization and get buyer on the phone.
  3. Tools to accelerate and personalize follow-up. (Notice I did not say automate).

I spoke with a biz-dev rep in a Mid-West technology company late last month. He was lamenting their crappy Website and lack of leads and he mentioned they were implementing CRM as a panacea for a number of sales ills.

My advice to the rep was to consider his options.

Despite the promises from the Oracle CRM rep, CRM in itself will not move the needle – it’s a system of record.

He will be cold calling for years to come and their Website will remain invisible to Google queries, if they survive that long.

Survival is a big issue for tech companies in a World where buyers are in control and competitors are a heartbeat away.

Table stakes in the new hyper-competitive B2B sales arena are insight, based on thought leadership, responsiveness and contextual engagement, underpinned by enabling technology.

For a more in-depth look at the subject, you could download our eBook “Build Highly Responsive Sales Teams

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