We all know the story — a lead finds your website, explores your marketing materials and requests follow-up for your sales team in order to learn more about how your offerings could help them.
But we also know it’s not always that simple. While we’d hope that your team members would follow up with this lead quickly to drive the conversation forward, sales teams often fall short with their responses and leads are sometimes lost in the mix altogether.
In truth, it takes speed, persistence and tact to engage a lead in a two-way conversation. The more effective a sales team is in these factors, the more successful the team is likely to be.
A 2020 Sales Effectiveness Benchmark Report, published by Conversica — a leading provider of intelligent virtual assistants (IVAs) helping organizations attract, acquire and grow customers at scale — leveraged a secret shopper to request a follow-up from more than 1,000 companies. Responses from these organizations were matched against the “4Ps” of sales effectiveness.
The 4Ps are:
- Promptness: How quickly a sales team follows up after a lead makes a follow-up request.
- Persistence: How many times a sales team follows up after initial contact.
- Personalization: How many personalization elements are included in a follow-up message (e.g. personalized greeting, individual sender, signature with contact information, relevant content and effort to push the conversation forward),
- And Performance: Whether the follow-up response landed appropriately in the Primary inbox, a Promotions/Social folder or the dreaded Spam folder.
Of course, 2020 was anything but a typical year. Businesses struggled to quickly adapt to a COVID-19 world. In many cases, this meant enabling teams to work remotely, adopting new technologies, tightening budgets or even restructuring staff. These factors (and others) likely impacted how efficiently and effectively sales teams could follow up with leads.
There’s no way to know how the pandemic affected each individual business, but it’s clear that various industries were impacted differently. Not to mention that consumer expectations changed as well.
Let’s explore how three industries performed across the 4Ps, what challenges and changes these industries faced and what organizations can do to improve their sales effectiveness.
The Industries: Technology, Telecommunications and Media & Entertainment
Conversica’s 2020 Sales Effectiveness Benchmark Report surveyed 1,177 companies across three industries: Technology, Telecommunications and Media & Entertainment.
The Tech industry — presumably the most digitally enabled of the three — performed best in Promptness with 25% of companies delivering a response within just 5 minutes and Persistence with 12% of companies reaching out 5-15 times.
Speed and persistence offer important advantages for sellers. Research finds the likelihood of converting a lead is 9 times higher when contacted within 5 minutes. Additionally, only 2% of sales are made during the first point of contact, but this jumps to 80% when reaching out 5-12 times.
The Tech industry isn’t perfect though. Roughly half of the companies surveyed took more than 24 hours to respond with their first touch. Another 57% only made one or two attempts to reach our shopper before giving up. So there is still room for improvement.
The Media & Entertainment industry performed best in Personalization with almost 40% sharing personalized responses that attempted to move the conversation forward and Performance with 14% of companies consistently landing in the Primary inbox. Performing well in one category reflects well on the other since more personalized emails tend to land where they are supposed to anyway.
This is surprising since the Media & Entertainment industry presumably suffered the most due to ever-shifting restrictions on in-person events and uncertain timelines. But in another way, this makes a lot of sense. Fans and customers want updates from their favorite teams, venues and entertainers. And personalization goes a long way to make them feel included and valued. Nevertheless, there are areas for improvement such as faster response times and more persistent outreach to engage leads and prospects.
The Telecom industry saw a boost in demand for their services as consumers sought more connectivity. Regrettably, this industry underperformed across all the 4Ps: Over 60% of telecoms failed to reach out within 24 hours, 70% made only one or two outreach attempts, 65% made almost no attempts to personalize their emails and the vast majority of messages landed in Promotions or Social folders rather than the Primary inbox.
It’s clear that telecoms are lagging behind other industries and individual companies would do well to adopt tools to digitally transform their sales teams to drive productivity and promote revenue generation.
Challenges and What to Do About It
Consistently delivering prompt, persistent and personalized messages is tough for a lot of sales teams due to capacity constraints and an inability to scale lead follow-up. While email automation tools exist, they lack the ability to engage leads in two-way conversations in the same way as a human employee.
Fortunately, there are ways to boost productivity, improve customer experiences and drive revenue. One such example is an Intelligent Virtual Assistant.
An IVA combines the reach and scalability of intelligent automation with the personalization and human-like feel of Conversational AI. By bringing these technologies together, Intelligent Virtual Assistants act as an extra pair of hands helping Sales teams follow up with every lead at scale to deliver personalized messages the instant a lead comes in or persistently over time until the lead is ready for a conversation with sales. IVAs always follow best practices helping to motivate leads to take action.
Performing well across the 4Ps isn’t easy, but it’s necessary if organizations want to motivate sales and acquisitions of new customers. What is your business doing to improve its sales effectiveness?