Online Sales Leads: The Difference an Hour Makes

A recent report from eMarketer shows that businesses are courting online sales leads more aggressively than ever before. Yet new data from Harvard Business Review (HBR) indicates that most companies are failing to follow up with these leads as fast as they should be. These reports reinforce the fact that there needs to be greater alignment between marketing and sales teams. It also proves beyond a doubt that B2B and B2C businesses need to embrace new tools in order to keep up with their increasing demand for online leads.

It’s clear that businesses are increasingly recognizing the importance of online lead generation. A recent report from online market research firm eMarketer shows that the U.S. online advertising budget is expected to increase 20% this year. The same report shows that online lead generation in particular is expected to increase 6.1% this year.

Online Sales Leads

From HBR

Yet companies aren’t qualifying these leads quickly enough. An HBR audit of 2,241 U.S. companies measured the time it took for the businesses to follow up with a web-generated lead. 37% passed the test with flying colors and followed up within an hour. However, 24% took longer than 24 hours to respond while 23% never responded at all.

The problem is that most businesses don’t realize just how fast leads go cold. Another HBR survey of 29 B2C and 13 B2B firms shows that businesses that followed up with a lead within an hour were seven times more likely to qualify a lead by having a conversation with a key decision maker as companies that waited an hour later. And that’s just one hour! Businesses that waited 24 hours were 60 times less likely to qualify a lead.

It’s vital that sales and marketing keep an open line of communication. In order for businesses to optimize their conversion funnel, sales teams need to follow up with leads as soon as marketing generates them. This is why we urge businesses to adopt new tools and protocols to not just generate leads, but also score those leads based on customer-driven indicators of interest. This is so sales teams can follow up with each lead at the ideal time. Businesses can then use follow up metrics to make sure that their sales team isn’t letting valuable leads slip through the cracks.


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