Top Brands Play a Dangerous Game with Poor Lead Response

Customer Experience
Customer Experience
If brands hope to maintain engagement and convert leads, marketing and sales professionals must actively pursue said prospects with speed and diligence to prevent potential customers from defecting to the competition.

Brands are constantly investing time and money into advertising and customer acquisition, yet in many instances, they fail to act upon leads, thereby missing valuable opportunities to convert promising prospects into lucrative customers.

As Velocify's recent "Fortune 100 Online Buyer Experiences: A Study of Seller Response" report highlights, even the largest companies across America typically neglect to respond to said online inquiries appropriately, essentially throwing away potential profits and opportunities. The study explores how the top Fortune 100 companies are adapting their sales processes to address changing buyer behaviors and expectations, and how poor lead response can devastate an organization's bottom line and propensity for growth.

In an effort to determine whether or not these major brands follow the industry's best practices, and how they are adapting their strategies, Velocify conducted its own experiment by searching for each company's online sales inquiry form on their websites. (Only 62 of the 100 companies offered the appropriate forms.) Each form was then completed on three unique occasions to indicate interest and request further information or follow-up. Inquiries were submitted during work hours to ensure sales representatives would be available, at which point each brand was then allowed 22 days to respond. Once completed, Velocify measured each brand's success against four KPIs: speed-to-call, speed-to-email, number of call attempts, and number of emails sent.

The following statistics examine precisely how close these brands adhere to industry standards and how the resulting strategies ultimately impact customer relationships:

  • Overall, 33 percent of buyer inquiries didn't receive one single seller phone call, while 12 percent of said inquiries didn't receive a response of any kind, email included. Only 46 percent of all leads received at least one phone call and one email.
  • Of the 67 percent buyer inquiries that did receive phone calls, the average first call wait time was 3.5 days. Yet, while 23 percent received an initial call within days, 20 percent only waited hours, 15 percent received their first call in less than an hour, and nearly 2 percent were contacted in less than one minute.
  • While more than 10 percent of leads received an email within seconds of submitting their Web inquiry, about 20 percent received an email within minutes, more than 20 percent received an email hours or days later, and 13 percent didn't received an email for weeks.
  • Previous Velocify research states that 93 percent of all converted leads are contacted by the sixth call attempt, yet this study demonstrated that 80 percent of leads were either completely ignored or received too few calls. Only about 10 percent of all inquiries received the optimal number of calls (between five and seven) before the seller gave up.
  • Though prior Velocify research claims that the optimal number of emails to send before placing leads into nurturing campaigns is five, less than 7 percent of the companies observed were close to that goal, emphasizing that they may give up too quickly. However, 90 percent were sending too few emails, while 2 percent were sending too many emails, which can be equally as detrimental to engagement and the bottom line.

Key takeaway: According to previous Velocify research, attempting to contact leads within one minute of their Web inquiry submission boosts the likelihood of conversion by 391 percent, for the longer the prospect must wait to hear from the seller, the less likely they are to engage, inevitably turning to the competition for assistance. But said established companies have much to learn and gain by reevaluating their current lead response strategies. Not only will speed drive growth and conversion rates, but quick response will also communicate the brand's willingness and ability to be equally responsive to and supportive of customers' future needs as they arise. If large companies don't make the move to streamline their strategies and align their goals soon, smaller competitors will gain the advantage as they work to respond to inquiries diligently and efficiently. If buyers show interest, there's no need for the brand to play hard to get, as these prospects are enthusiastically seeking further information. Instead, companies should actively strive to connect with the prospects who've reached out in order to ignite the sales process and propel both the buyer and the brand into the next stages of the customer experience.