Having a ton of leads is a great problem for any business to have.
But while 61% of sales leaders say their teams always follow up on marketing leads …
… only 30% of marketing leaders say they believe sales follows up on marketing leads.
That’s one heck of a difference.
So at our panel at SaaStr Annual 2018, we set out to answer once and for all: just how should organizations approach lead follow-up?
In this panel wrap-up, we’ll explore just how many leads you should be following up on, how augmenting your tech stack can help you scale out personalization, and how to divide your leads into manageable segments.
We’ll also see how Bluewolf crushed lead follow-up, booking 40% more meetings and 15% more sales activities.
Get ready to follow up on all your leads, no matter what.
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Lead follow-up by the numbers
When you look at the State of Lead Management Report from LeanData, it’s pretty clear: our work is cut out for us.
Here are the stats that worry us the most when it comes to lead follow up:
- Almost 80% of respondents aren’t completely satisfied with their lead routing.
- 1 out of 4 leads is assigned to the incorrect rep.
- Only 33.5% of respondents think sales immediately follows up on leads.
It’s clear: the difficulty of lead follow-up isn’t just following up. It’s routing the leads to the right reps in the first place.
And of course, it’s aligning sales and marketing organizations to make that process easy.
Follow up on leads by not following up
Sometimes, it’s about making sure reps never get leads to follow up on.
No, seriously. We’re not playing keep-away, though. We’re just being strategic about our target personas.
We’ll let Lars Nilsson, VP, Global Inside Sales at Cloudera, take the mic.
“Sales and marketing [have to] sit down together to target the rest of the market. If you truly believe there’s a set of accounts where your technology will solve their problems, then score your leads so the ones that come in against that TAM get a touch by your SLR team.”
Okay, that’s pretty standard stuff. But what about the leads who don’t come in against your TAM? Here’s Nilsson again on optimal lead follow-up:
“As a marketing and sales organization, you have to be okay with cutting bait.”
So cut bait
In fact, said Nilsson, Cloudera’s biggest save wasn’t scaling out personalization across all leads. Neither was it hiring a huge sales team to follow up on every single lead.
Instead, it was routing non-TAM leads away from Cloudera’s SLRs and into nurture streams.
And when non-TAM leads clicked through an e-mail somewhere down the nurture path, they’d be redirected to sales.
That’s the “work smarter” approach to lead follow-up.
Choose the right leads and let the rest go
After all, that’s what account-based marketing is all about: going after the leads that make the most sense to pursue, and letting marketing automation handle the rest.
That lets you create impressive personalization on the leads you care about, without spreading yourself too thin on lead follow-up.
But, Nilsson said, very few of the non-TAM leads ever actually engaged.
That might be a saving grace, though, since if sales had followed up on them, it might have been a fool’s errand.
“You have to be comfortable as a marketing and sales organization to just let it go. I know that’s sometimes hard to do,” said Nilsson.
Don’t skimp on nurture campaigns
That’s not to say nurture campaigns take a backseat to your personalization, though.
As Lee Davis, Sr. Director, Marketing at Bluewolf said at our panel, we do want to get away from creating too much e-mail in the world.
Meaning it’s not just about “hope you’ve been well” and “I thought you might have missed this e-mail.” It’s also about real value, with copy just long enough to fit the needs of your story and, let’s be real, your selling points.
Listen to those buying signals.
But to follow Davis’ advice to follow up leads, we’ve got to learn what people actually want.
Even if that means not sending that clever, conversion-focused nurture e-mail or sales e-mail.
In other words, it’s to do what every other company claims they do: listen to the customer.
Or in jargon, look for customer intent and buyer signals.
Not for opportunities for spammy lead follow-up.
Raise your hand if this has happened to you
You’re checking out at a retail store, and things are going great.
Then, the person behind the counter tries to upsell you. Maybe it’s an insurance policy or a new credit card.
Well, that’s their job, so you politely smile and say no. But they’ve already started going, and no matter how many times you say no, they keep trying.
By the end of it, you’re frustrated, the salesperson is frustrated, and you’re starting to think about other places to shop.
The same thing happens every day with over-eager, under-informed organizations’ sales and marketing teams.
Lead follow-up should focus on the customer
At Bluewolf, Davis created two different teams: one to go after qualified leads, and another that creates contacts, not leads.
To make sure those leads are qualified—or in our retail example, interested in being sold to—Bluewolf leverages LeanData Lead-to-Account Matching. That provides a holistic picture of their leads, including how many touches they’ve already gone through and how responsive each one is.
Then, with LeanData Routing, Bluewolf makes sure each lead gets only as much attention as it’s signaled.
With that segmentation process, Bluewolf increased meetings by 40% and increased sales activity by 15%.
A window into Cloudera’s lead follow-up
Nilsson had the same ideas about lead follow-up.
In fact, his team at Cloudera leveraged a Harvard Business Review statistic that most sales happen between the 5th and 12th contact. The inbound team categorized inbound leads into “A” leads that received 12 touches, “B” leads that received 7, and “C” leads, which came without phone numbers, that received 3 touches.
But to categorize those leads in the first place, Cloudera, like Bluewolf, needed the right understanding of the 15,000 inbound inquiries they received each quarter—lest their lead follow-up fall flat.
LeanData’s lead-to-account matching and routing provided the right answer for Cloudera, and gave hours in the day back to its SDRs.
Let your processes change.
Not to be overshadowed, though, is the idea that processes should be allowed to change.
Especially if you’re in that classic startup territory of 0-100 employees.
“Understand that processes change all the time,” said Evan Liang, CEO at LeanData. “If you’re in the 10-100 stage, you just want to orient your outbound to hit targets within your TAM. You’re still thinking of how to build teams, how to define your funnel.”
Even your larger funnel idea changes massively over the course of business—when it does, said Liang, don’t be afraid to change even more.
But don’t automate too quickly
While marketing and sales automation tools may seem attractive, you shouldn’t try to automate things too quickly.
After all, you need a process to automate in the first place.
“Don’t automate stuff that isn’t value-add,” said Liang. “Know the processes you want to automate.”
Bluewolf, for example, spent up to 5 minutes to research and qualify each individual lead. That’s a lot of time just to prep lead follow-up—so Bluewolf automated lead research with LeanData Matching.
Lead follow-up from the experts
If you missed our panel at SaaStr Annual 2018, not to worry. You’re all caught up.
You’ve learned how to strengthen lead follow-up by not following up on leads. You’ve understood how not to frustrate customers by following up when they’re not ready. And finally, you heard from Evan that, yes, it’s okay to change your processes—but only automate when they’re good and done.
If you’re ready to join Bluewolf and Cloudera in world-class lead follow-up, you need the right data. You can start trying the world’s most powerful fuzzy matching algorithms today with LeanData View—absolutely free.