A third of potential customers who request information or quotes online never receive a phone call in response to their requests.
According to a new report from Velocify, a provider of cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) sales software, that's just one indication that companies are dropping the ball when it comes to responding to qualified buyers online.
The report, Fortune 100 Online Buyer Experiences Study, was conducted to measure how well the largest companies in America address online inquiries from both B2B and B2C customers. And it shows most companies have "considerable room for improvement."
Is Anyone Listening?
Companies fail to send email responses to about a third of potential buyers — and ignore 12 percent of them completely. Those who do get a return call wait an average of three days, and more than ten percent waited a week.
Only 1.6 percent got a call back in less than a minute. About 15 percent got a call in less than an hour and nearly 20 percent were called back within a few hours.
The report noted "research shows that responding in under 60 minutes improves the probability of converting a prospect by 36 percent." Ten percent received what Velocify defined as the optimal number of follow-up calls — between five and seven attempts.
"Logic dictates that sellers have little chance of converting a prospective buyer into a paying customer if seller response to a buyer inquiry never occurs," the report noted.
The results, Velocify CEO Nick Hedges told CMSWire, "are pretty surprising, but also not surprising."
Surprising, But Not Surprising
Surprising, he said, because these Fortune 100 companies "spend a huge amount on marketing, and presumably some of that is on web sites." The report cited research showing that $188 billion is spent annually to generate more leads through content marketing, video marketing and social media.
Not surprising, Hedges said, "because I've seen it time and time again from sales departments."
"They think they're highly effective, but if you dig in, response time is nowhere what they thought it was, and leads are being wasted."
To judge response times, online search forms were found for the Fortune 100 companies. Of the 100, 62 had appropriate sales inquiry forms. Contact information was submitted to indicate interest in a product or service, with a request for further information or follow-up.
Three separate inquiries were sent to each company during business hours. Twenty-two days were allotted for company responses, and Key Performance Indicators were Speed-to-Call, Speed-to-Email, Number of Call Attempts and Number of Emails sent.
Why are major companies leaving money on the table by responding slowly or not at all?
"The main factor, and it's a little self-serving, is they don't have systems and software to follow up," he said, noting that Velocify's sales software is designed for high-velocity sales environments.
In addition, he said, "sales teams are overwhelmed." Hedges said many sales teams have, until relatively recently, been focused on field sales, "not on responding to web leads."
It has now become standard for many, if not most, buyers to begin their sales journey on the web. This has generated a flood of inquiries that even major companies are still struggling to handle.
"They simply don't have enough people for Web-centric world," Hedges added, noting that this is beginning to change with a "very significant growth in inside sales as a profession."