It must have been the 5th time they called to sell me an extended warranty. It was certainly the 5th time I’d said “no.” Rest assured on the last three attempts I asked them pointedly to remove me from their list and stop.
Still the calls persist…
And persist they should, according to any number of sales statistics in circulation today. For example, a meme appearing in my stream on LinkedIn stated to the effect, that 80% of sales close on the fifth interaction, yet most sales people rarely go beyond one or two touches.
That meme, in particular, was posted without attribution or a source link, but even a cursory search demonstrates the web is cluttered with such statistics:
80% of sales require 5 follow-up calls after the first meeting. 44% of salespeople give up after 1 follow-up.
Just Five Follow-Ups
Just five follow-ups? If five follow ups is all it takes, then one option is to hire a bunch of kids out of college, pay them dirt and then stick a sales manager on top to ride them into making persistent sales calls. Ramp up your recruiting though, because those positions will be a revolving door.
Another alternative is to use robo-sales-calls, which for me, have become increasingly common both at home and work. I was once (and only once) amused by the robo-sales-calls that begin with the words “This is not a sales call!”
It’s no wonder so many people screen phone calls.
Dialing for Dollars and the Buyers’ Journey
Is the lead that needs five follow-up phone calls really a prospect?
That probably all depends on how a lead is defined and while that might vary from organization-to-organization, what is clear is that the buyers’ journey has changed.
Increasingly, buyers have already made a decision before even speaking to sales; talking to sales is increasingly the last possible stop before writing a digital check. According to Forester Research:
Today’s buyers might be anywhere from two-thirds to 90% of the way through their journey before they reach out to the vendor.
We are observing – and have been for the last decade or so – a fundamental shift in how people make purchases. The drivers for those shifts stem from a number of sources:
- continuation of resource constraint amid an unenthusiastic economic recovery
- ubiquity of e-commerce and the consumerization of even commercial transactions
- easier delivery models predicated by market acceptance of cloud computing
In this context, five follow-ups sounds increasingly like a blind bid to dial for dollars.
Marketing’s Responsibility for Sales
Marketing perhaps has never had more responsibility for sales than it does today. I’m willing to bet that’s true no matter what the trade or industry, but can certainly vouch for B2B circles. Yet a cursory glance across the marketing industry will show, most businesses incentivize marketers by volume.
The result is evitable: an aging argument about the quality of leads – sales team relegated to dialing phone numbers at near-random because some meme on LinkedIn tells her she needs to make five or more phone calls. It this digital age, its absurd way to do business.
What needs to happen? For starters, these three steps:
1) Define a lead. Marketing and sales need to define and agree what defines a lead. Those that meet the qualification are passed to sales; those that do not are referred into marketing’s long term nurture stream.
2) Favor quality rather than volume. If sales and marketing agree to a lead definition, most assuredly the number of leads that marketing is responsible for delivering needs to be revised down. Incentive programs should favor quality over quantity.
3) Add science to content marketing. Too much of the content that marketing produces favors glamour over substance – social shares over sales enablement. Sure, some of that can be part of the mix, but it is a mix of content aimed at buyer personas at all levels across the continuum of attract, convert and retain.
* * *
…the sales center trying to sell me an extended warranty is still calling. In a momentary lapse of discretion, I answered one call where a young lady who attempted to persuade me that it wasn’t a “sales call” she was just trying to “pass along information.” Her calls all go to voicemail now. Sometimes she leaves a message. I never call her back.
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Infographic: Nurturing the Gap between Marketing and Sales