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Half of Companies Are Failing in Sales Effectiveness Due to Poor Lead Follow-Up

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According to Conversica’s Sales Effectiveness Report, half of the companies studied either lacked the capability to receive sales inquiries through their website or failed to respond to inbound leads at all; Generative AI is becoming vital for organizations to avoid missing out on revenue opportunities.

How well are companies responding to sales inquiries and following up on new business leads? To find out, Conversica, Inc., the leading provider of AI-powered conversation automation solutions for enterprise revenue teams, prepared the 2023 Sales Effectiveness Report launched today.

Half of the organizations anonymously contacted for the study are failing in their lead follow-up process, losing sales opportunities. The companies included in the study were mid-market and enterprise-sized businesses in Technology, Telecommunications (B2B and B2C), and Sports, Media & Entertainment (B2C).

The Conversica Sales Effectiveness Report reveals that even in the era of automated conversation technologies (including first-generation chatbots, chat-to-live agent, or more advanced GPT-powered chatbots), an astonishing 24% of companies offered no option to submit a sales inquiry on their website, thus requiring potential buyers to leave the site to contact Sales teams. These organizations are at high risk of losing potential buyers’ attention to competitors that offer fundamental digital channel entry points on their website, such as chatbots, live chat, or sales inquiry forms.

Even when participants did have an option for initiating sales inquiries on their website, 83% had inadequate follow-up processes.

  • One in four companies tested did not respond to inbound leads at all, a significant increase from the 5% that failed to respond the last time Conversica conducted the study in 2020. A likely factor in this change is the economic slowdown, which has led many organizations to reduce their workforce.
  • Most of the companies that responded either via a personalized response or nurture email gave up too soon. Roughly 35% followed up on their inbound leads with only one or two contact attempts, far below the research-backed recommendation of 6-11 attempts at minimum. This left only 12% who earned the highest score in persistence by reaching the recommended range for contact attempts.
  • Despite more businesses failing to answer prospects’ questions, there was a group at the top of the grading scale that grew. 17% of companies received the highest overall grade in Conversica’s evaluation, a vast improvement over the 2020 cohort (8%).
Sales Effectiveness
Jim Kaskade, CEO of Conversica

“The Sales Effectiveness Report highlights an ample opportunity for improvements in the realm of technology and Sales teams,” said Jim Kaskade, CEO of Conversica. “Said more directly, a little more than 1 out of 10 companies are properly following up on leads. That’s terrible. Our research identifies significant shortcomings among established enterprises regardless of their experience. 9 out of 10 organizations are spending a lot of money on Marketing or Sales Development, and they’re wasting every dollar without proper AI automation in place. It’s alarming to see these companies leaving prospect customers unattended, and I don’t know any of my peer CEOs who would put up with revenue opportunities being left on the table like this due to a lack of technological resources. This is where the use of Generative AI for revenue teams will become table stakes. Only AI has the capacity to scale while offering customized, personalized interactions that result in great experiences to inbound leads, prospects, and customers. Those who don’t adopt AI today will fail – or at a minimum, fall significantly behind in terms of maximizing their revenue potential relative to their competition who does adopt.”

The high number of companies who received an inquiry but did not follow up demonstrates a serious issue with lead follow-up processes. Telecommunications had the highest rate of no-follow-up at 40% of companies contacted failing to respond, with Sports, Media & Entertainment close behind at 35%, and Tech performing only slightly better with 25% of those contacted sending no follow-up.

“The situation indicates that as businesses adjust their human resources and budgets for the uncertain economy, they just don’t have enough bandwidth to follow up on every lead. And when they do, it may be too late. The faster the connection is made, the higher the likelihood of converting a lead to a customer. It’s time to optimize human resources by leveraging technology that can automate these types of tasks, leaving strategic activities such as building relationships and closing deals to the sales teams,” added Kaskade.

Methodology

Conversica’s research team evaluated 100 mid-market and enterprise companies (>200 employees, >$75M in annual revenue) by seeking out an inquiry form on their website and, if an on-site contact option was available, expressing interest in their products or services and requesting contact from a sales team. Research for this report was conducted over the course of one month using a shopper persona with no link to Conversica. Email and telephone responses from each organization were recorded and analyzed for 22 days from the date of inquiry. Overall grades (A-F) were determined by averaging each company’s scores across four categories: promptness, persistence, performance and personalization.

The full report with the detailed findings and methodology can be downloaded here.

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