I called to follow up a website lead yesterday from a prospect who had downloaded our Sales Pipeline Repair & Installation Manual. I missed contacting him but left a message. About an hour later he emailed me, thanking me for the information (eBook) but asking that I “please refrain from being persistent as it won’t help”.
Now of course the customer, or even the prospect, is always right. It’s good that he outlined his expectations, because it helps me to serve him better. I did wonder though, about his expectation of service.
This prospect is the head of the Australian office, for an international SaaS platform servicing the retail industry. It is a highly competitive market. I had made the follow up call in under 60 minutes, which is CompanyHQ’s standard B2B response KPI, (the top level is a 5 minute response).
Our business provides people, process and technology, to repair and install sales pipelines. Our own service standards present an example of our sales performance execution. So, what lead response KPI might this prospect expect us to apply to a sales enquiry relating to his software platform?
I can only imagine this example is a blip. No one writes a role description or service standard for sales that includes “must refrain from being persistent”. Never-the-less, what is the science behind lead response times, and what might frame customer expectations. Here is a summary of a little research:
B2B customer expectations are being influence by our B2C experiences
One-button, one-click, enhanced customer experiences have become widespread in our B2C encounters. We are now starting to expect that level of service response from our business vendors. Live chat in real time during business hours; five minute response from an enquiry form; a sixty minute support check from a gated content (eBook, calculator or white paper) download.
Top of mind problem to solve
When someone downloads content, they are either responding to a call to action or they have searched for a solution. Either way, we have struck a chord and the opportunity is currently top of mind for the prospect. What is the likelihood that the prospect’s motivation to act, will increase if given more time? Even if they are not ready to discuss their needs right then and there, most would recognise and appreciate that, as a potential supplier you are on the ball and accessible.
Return on Investment
If you are spending $10k per month on search, digital display, web and marketing resources, then 285 enquiries represents a cost of $35 and if you’re getting less than 50 per week, then each one is costing over $50 – that is before they hit your sales team. So how long might you leave this investment (lead) to “mature” or go stale, before someone picks up the phone and makes a connection? Would you risk being the second or third potential supplier to respond?
In general, B2B leads receive staggeringly slow responses from sales teams. Consider this: a Harvard Business Review lead response study of over 2,000 US companies found that: • The average first response time of B2B companies to their leads was 42 hours • Only 37% of companies responded to their leads within an hour • 16% of companies responded within one to 24 hours • 24% of companies took more than 24 hours • 23% of the companies never responded at all
This is both a sobering statistic of businesses failing to make lead response a priority, and also a brilliant opportunity for responsive sales teams willing to engage leads before their competition calls them back.
If you deal with more than a few dozen customers per year, you will not find a business leader or expert that will tell you not to implement the latest technology or a CRM system. You may however be surprised at the resistance you will get from your team.
Create a connected experience. Remove friction and make each interaction seamless. Better still, automate and remove all redundant steps. We used to look for a connected experience, now we just expect it everywhere.