OK, maybe they do mean squat, because without an inquiry, it’s kinda hard to develop a lead – but it’s what happens after an inquiry that really matters.
Where Does a Marketer’s Job End?
As a member of a marketing team, your job is to fill the funnel with leads. Whether you work in B2B, retail, or NFP, nearly everything you do is ultimately tied to lead generation. You use public relations, and both traditional and email marketing campaigns. You rock social media, content creation, and your overall web presence, bringing inquiries to your website. Your analytics show a steady increase in your website’s contact form conversions, and while your highest percentage of inquires previously came via email, your site’s contact form now delivers more leads. You’re doing your job by bringing in the inquiries, right?
Yes and no. An inquiry doesn’t necessarily make a lead. Your job doesn’t end when you hand over the inquiry to sales or customer service. Your job is lead generation, not inquiry generation.
Are you gathering Inquiries but Losing Leads?
Herein lies the problem. According to the Harvard Business Review article, The Short Life of Online Sales Leads, “The average response time (to web inquiries), among companies that responded within 30 days, was 42 hours.”
How does that affect lead generation? The MIT Lead Response Management (PDF) study shares: “The odds of contacting a lead decrease by over TEN times in the FIRST HOUR.” The study adds, “After 20 hours every additional dial your salespeople make hurts your ability to make contact and qualify the lead.”
What’s the Solution?
The obvious answer is quicker response time, but where’s the bottleneck and what slows the process? The majority of companies give inquiries directly to salespeople, which can create problems. How often are salespeople unavailable? How much of their time is spent presenting, travelling, or in meetings? Giving potential leads directly to salespeople may not be the best use of their time and could adversely affect the closing rate, while clogging the system. So what’s the solution? Don’t give web form inquiries directly to sales. Develop a specialist whose responsibility is to make a timely initial contact, gather basic information, and qualify leads before they go to sales.
Are you funneling leads or gathering inquires? One pays the bills, and the other looks good on paper. What system do you use to develop leads from web form inquires?