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SALES EFFECTIVENESS REPORT
Sales effectiveness has many components. For this second annual report, we studied how the way companies initially engage with their leads can set them on a course for success or failure.
While a steady stream of leads from your website or other sources looks like a huge success, you shouldn’t pop the champagne cork just yet. Now is when the real work begins: Engaging each and every one and turning them into revenue for your business.
It’s not easy. Successful engagement of inbound leads has four crucial elements, which we call the Four Ps:
Promptness: You need to be fast if you want to be first
Personalization: Prospects want conversation, not promotion
Persistence: One or two tries are rarely enough
Performance: An email snagged in the spam filter looks like a non-response to a lead
There’s an abundance of research on the importance of these Four Ps for lead engagement. But we wanted to find out whether companies were putting this information into practice in the field. This annual series of reports offers a snapshot of how companies are handling lead engagement today, and how that behavior is changing over time.
We compared best-practice research with real-world execution and found that even direct website inquiries—presumably the hottest of prospects—often get left behind. Our findings will help you determine where your company stands in comparison to others in your industry, which factors are strong predictors of success or failure, and what practical steps you can take to align your sales team with best practices.
Your inbound leads are an expensive resource, and crucial to the success of your organization. We hope this report will help you discover ways to optimally leverage yours.
For this report, researchers visited the websites of 538 companies across nine industries, and asked to be contacted. Unfortunately, one-third of companies contacted did not respond at all, despite being solicited with a direct, specific inquiry.
Among those who responded, here’s how they performed on our four metrics: Promptness, Personalization, Persistence and Performance.
Promptness: 42% of companies who responded did so within the first five minutes after contact, a 36% increase over the 8% in the 2015 research. In addition, the number of companies that waited more than 24 hours halved since last year. The progress is impressive, but the relative benefits of contacting within the first five minutes are so great that this score remains surprisingly low.
Personalization: Personalization was another area where companies have shown major improvement. The percentage of ‘A’ grades achieved for personalization increased by over 40% over the previous report, while the number of failing grades decreased by almost 30%. Companies appear to understand the real importance of creating a personalized, conversational environment in their correspondence.
Persistence: Unlike promptness, persistence grades stayed relatively poor this year, with about 2% more companies achieving an ‘A’ grade, and about 2% more companies earning a ‘D’ grade. Some 68% of companies gave up after just two or fewer attempts to contact the shopper, despite research demonstrating that the optimal number of communications attempts lies between five and eleven.
Performance: Getting an email to the inbox is getting harder every year. As filters become increasingly savvy to sales email techniques, it becomes more difficult to make it through, which means that companies need to be working harder than ever to land their emails in the inbox.
With the large number of sales teams not hitting best-practice targets — and the astonishing number of companies that did not respond at all — it’s clear that inbound leads are not getting the attention deserved at many businesses. Prioritizing responsiveness and making use of sales and marketing technology can help.
Interestingly, many companies that performed well in last year’s report performed poorly this year, and many others saw the opposite reversal. It appears that no company can be great at the Four Ps 100% of the time, meaning companies cannot rest on their laurels and must instead invest in strategies that ensure consistent and effective lead follow-up.
Giving Up Too Soon
Over two-thirds of companies simply gave up after two or fewer attempts, despite research
demonstrating that the optimal number of communications attempts lies between five and