Are you following up 100% of the time?

For a better part of this week I have been working on the lead generation and follow up management workflow for OC4.   One of the big lessons in my years of business is that you have to effectively manage your leads effectively or you will not fill your pipeline.   If that does not do it for you then common courtesy dictates you should follow up with people who took the time to reach out to you.

At the IMS conference today the lunch keynote said that less that 10% of all leads are actually followed up by the sales team.  He talked about the “Rule of 45” – stats show that when you follow up 45% of people who inquire about your products will by something from you within in 12 months with 12 to 15% buying in the next 3 to 4 months.

This got me thinking of a recent conversation I had with my wife after seeing a full-page ad and their cable TV ad promoting the upcoming home show.  My wife loves this show since it helps me find the people who can do all the work that I don’t have the time and skills to do on my “honey do” list.  I told her why bother, last year when we talked to and registered with a number of vendors and NONE of them contacted us.  We told them we wanted a quote or something specific from them, gave our contact details and again none of them followed up.  I guess I need to dress better next time so they think I can pay for their service – wonder with the economy if they are still fat and happy and need work.

Why would you spend money to exhibit, have people complete a form, a log asked me for my business card if you don’t call them.  Go back after the event then follow up with them.  While you can use an expensive CRM system or even the free version from Zoho to manage them – no matter how much data you collect and triggers you set – the best CRM system is the one that you actually use.

An interesting experience I had concerning profiling and lead follow up was at SES Chicago a few years ago.  My friend who managed Digital Marketing at Motorola at the time and I walked the show floor.   Peter, tired of being dogged by all the sales people at conferences who see the Motorola name and can’t let him pass in peace, started registering with the name of his blog.

Peter stopped by one both of a large Search Marketing tool company.  He was interested in learning more and asked them if they had a flyer.  The sales person told them they were running short and only giving them out to qualified companies – Peter looked at him and asked if he was for real.  Thanked him and walked away.  He took a few steps then came back and told the guy that he was actually the global manager of Search Marketing for Motorola.  The sales person went pale and quickly tried to give him the flyer but Peter just walked away.   I am sure the person learned a valuable lesson.  While we all understand the idea of profiling and giving away flyers and trinkets there is no reason that you can’t at least take the card and give the illusion you care.   As in this case since you are running low you can take a card and email or mail them more information after the event.

While it can be a pain to manage leads just be careful when you are qualifying them to make sure you did not exclude someone who could be a customer in the future or could be an influencer for your products later.