I often reference a well-known study by Corporate Executive Board that revealed that about 60 percent of purchasing decisions are made before a prospect ever interacts with a vendor.
That eye-opening statistic tells us that in our digital age, prospects are doing their own research and are better informed than ever before.
Therefore, if you have any hope of reaching them and influencing their decisions, you must understand their buying journey and engage with them as early as possible.
You also must remain pleasantly persistent in your follow-up to earn your place as an active participant in the buying process.
Otherwise, you’ll be reduced to an irrelevant bystander with little influence at all.
Get there and get there fast
Think about it, if you went to a clothing shop to buy a shirt, would you stand around for hours and wait for a salesperson to assist you?
Definitely not … you’d leave and find another shop.
The same principle applies to your prospecting. Prospects are more likely to speak with you if you can engage with them right when they are thinking about you.
XANT audited 3,000 companies’ lead response practices and discovered the average UK company responds to web leads in about 24 hours. That’s approximately 14 hours faster than the average U.S. company.
However, immediacy shouldn’t be measured by hours, but by minutes.
Companies should respond to inbound inquiries within 5 minutes for maximum results.
XANT research has found that when sales reps respond within 5 minutes of an inquiry versus 30 minutes, they get a 21x uplift in qualifications.
Be pleasantly persistent
That’s probably because no sales rep wants to call so often that they become a burden, a pest, or worse, a stalker.
Sometimes we struggle to determine where we should draw the line before we become so annoying with our contacting attempts that we end up damaging our brand.
All of this has led to sales teams giving up way too soon when trying to reach a potential buyer.
In the UK, the average cost per lead is between £20 and £50. If you’re spending that much, does it make sense to give up after one or two phone calls?
That’s just as bad as throwing money away.
Currently, businesses in both the UK and the United States fall well short of proven best practices.
According to a recent XANT lead response study, the average sales rep in the UK gives up after 2.39 contact attempts. U.S. companies are worse, giving up after 1.5 attempts.
XANT research has shown that the optimal number of attempts a sales rep should make is somewhere between 6 and 9. Companies that follow this typically can contact up to 90% of their leads.
Show empathy for your buyer
We’ve developed the incorrect perception that because someone doesn’t respond to an email or a phone call, they aren’t interested in speaking with us.
The reality is, people are busy. According to The Radicati Group, a business professional receives 84 emails a day on average. Not to mention, there is a seemingly endless number of ways to reach people, from text and email to LinkedIn and Twitter.
If sales professionals truly want to influence a buyer’s journey, they must find a way to build empathy with their potential buyers.
In most relationships, reflecting body language shows empathy.
The digital equivalent is to mirror the behaviour of prospects. To do this, you must understand the buyer’s digital behaviour and align with it.
For example, I work for an American company and spend my early mornings dealing with emails I’ve received from the U.S. overnight.
Anyone trying to reach me on the phone at that time will almost never get an answer. But my email response rate is very high at that time.
What you do and when you do it can be just as important as immediacy and persistency.
This brings up the importance of having a cadence that encourages sales reps to use different modalities of engagement.
Sales reps can call nine times and hope they’ll get an answer. However, the better practice would be to call, text and email.
Sales reps also need to pay attention to when they are trying to contact potential buyers.
XANT research has taught us that Wednesday and Thursdays are the best days to contact and qualify a lead. Sales reps are also more likely to contact a prospect if they call in the morning between 8 and 9 or in the evening between 4 and 6.
That being said, every business is different and you may need to dig deeper and find the optimal times and modalities for engaging with your prospects.
To learn more about the value of immediacy and persistency, download the Lead Response Management Study.
Free Lead Resonse Management Study
Answer the question, “When should companies call Web-generated leads for optimal contact and qualification ratios?”