Whose Lead is it Anyway? How to Nurture Your Channels’ Sales Leads (and Why You Really Should Do It)

Updated: June 22, 2010

Mini-Case Study #1 - Office Furniture

Background: An office furniture manufacturer currently collects inquiries and sales leads through various sources and responds with an average of three "touches"

  • Email that introduces the prospect to their local dealer
  • Mailed response that includes a catalog and customized cover letter
  • Follow-up customer satisfaction survey


Objectives:

  • Increase lead to sale conversion by 3-5 percentage points or 20%
  • Touch each prospect a minimum of 4 times within 2 weeks of inquiry (not including dealer contact) with relevant material
  • Maintain branded messaging for the office furniture manufacturer, while promoting the local dealer


Results:

  • Sales conversion pre-nurturing = 38.7%
  • Sales conversion during nurturing = 51.3%



In this case study, the manufacturer took charge of the relationship with the lead and deployed an automated email campaign. The results of the additional touches were extremely positive… an increase of 13 percentage points for sales conversions during the test period.

Initially dealers were skeptical about the process and wanted more control of the nurturing process. To accommodate this request, a feature was added to the dealer's lead management system. In order to pull a lead from the nurturing process the dealer simply clicked "stop nurturing". This gave the dealers control at the lead level in case they knew more about the progress of the lead than manufacturer. If the lead was close to purchasing already, this feature was used to avoid overwhelming the prospect with information.

The manufacturer also took steps to promote the local dealer in the email communications. Variable data fields were used to insert the dealer's logo and contact information and also included a button to "have my local dealer contact me", which created a new lead notification message to the assigned dealer. By taking steps to ensure the channel had some control over the process, this manufacturer was able to conduct a successful nurturing campaign and obtain dealer support in the process.


Mini-Case Study #2 - Office Equipment



Background: An office furniture manufacturer that sold through three channels (branches, dealers and VARs) did not know if the sales representatives were following up on leads. They assumed that consistent initial contact rates on leads would have a direct positive effect on sales conversions. To gain initial metrics, historical leads were surveyed to determine whether follow-up contact was occurring from the local sales resource. Results of the survey were as follows:

  • 29% said they had not been contacted by a sales representative
  • 78% did not buy from this manufacturer


Objectives:

  • Increase lead to sale conversion by 1 percentage point during the test
  • Evaluate follow-up response performance between branches and dealers
  • Show the connection between lead follow-up behavior and sales conversion rates
  • Reinforce appropriate lead follow-up behavior by the different channels


Results:

  • Increased sales conversion overall from 22% to 26%
  • Increased follow-up rates by sales (both channels)


In order to get feedback from leads regarding sales follow-up, the manufacturer launched an auto-responder email nurturing program. Within the program a $1.00 MP3 gift code was offered simply for answering the question "Has a local sales representative contacted you yet?". If the respondent said they were not contacted another email went out (with another) $1.00 MP3 gift code essentially asking "Now have they contacted you?". A double negative response resulted in escalation to the sales reps manager. On the branch side, the branch manager received the notice. On the dealer/VAR side, the district sales manager was notified.

At the end of the test period the sales entities were grouped into A, B and C locations based on their sales conversion percentage. The results of the contact study were overlaid with the location rankings by sales conversion. The locations that had the best follow-up records were also the locations that had the highest sales conversion rates!


What initially started out as a test that was seen as intrusive by the sales force proved its point. If you are quick to follow-up on the leads generated by marketing, your sales conversions will increase.

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