Forbes: The Lead Conversion Gap Every Company Struggles With

Forbes: The Lead Conversion Gap Every Company Struggles With

Excerpt from: Forbes.com

The general relationship between sales and marketing teams has always proven to be challenging. Marketing teams work hard to drive leads but are often frustrated with sales teams not engaging those prospects quickly enough or not following up to nurture them as needed. Sales teams are equally frustrated by high volumes of low-quality leads they have to chase down, sift through and scramble to respond to 24/7, which is unrealistic. Clearly, there is a “gap” in the marketing and sales funnel, leading to a huge number of missed opportunities, lost time and money.

Over the last 10 years, there’s been a massive shift in how consumers prefer to communicate with businesses.   We live in a world of apps, bots and buttons, and people have become accustomed to engaging on their own time and terms. Yet many businesses have failed to adapt. For example, 89% of consumers prefer to engage with a business by text; yet businesses are still calling prospects that don’t answer the phone.

Though the challenges of optimizing your lead conversion may be great, the opportunities are even greater. Here are a few pieces of advice for sales and marketing teams that may create an instant lift to your business.

Offer SMS Communication

Getting a prospect to pick up the phone or open your email campaigns is a shot in the dark. Consumers are tired of robocalls and spam emails, making these forms of contact ineffective on their own.

Read the rest for free at Forbes.com

5 Reasons Cold Calling Just Doesn’t Cut It Anymore

5 Reasons Cold Calling Just Doesn’t Cut It Anymore

Cold calling and door-to-door sales are the most commonly used practices for sales teams to date. Genuine human connection can be the deciding factor for consumers to purchase and sales teams are racing to make that connection happen. Yet, Harvard Business Review says cold calling doesn’t work 90.9% of the time.

Maybe cold calling has become a little one dimensional in its approach. There are many layers as to why cold calling is no longer a successful sales tactic. As leads come through the sales funnel, more and more are falling through the cracks due to the lack of bandwidth of sales teams. It’s a universal gap into which lost money and opportunity falls.

If you’re confused as to why calling your cold leads isn’t working, we’ll paint the picture:

It’s time consuming.

Sales teams are spending mass amounts of time compiling and executing call lists. Not to mention, reaching a decision-maker is difficult in and of itself. Gatekeepers at companies are known for being told to put cold-callers on hold indefinitely.

And with 15% of sales’ time being spent on leaving voicemails, only 2% of cold calls result in a meeting. For spending so much time on filling inboxes, that is a very low number for a strategy without a guaranteed purchase.

It’s expensive.

According to HubSpot, cold calling costs at least 60% more per lead than inbound marketing. Cold calling is a disruptive method and with its disruption brings less connection and possibly more damage to the brand.

Part of being able to capitalize on the lead conversion gap requires being cost effective. It doesn’t make sense to spend money on salaries and lists that result in 2% of meetings. Setting cold calling as it would allow inbound marketing strategies to be given more focus and create more qualified leads.

No one answers the phone anymore.

When voicemails and answering machines rose, the shift in cold calling began. Then came Caller ID, and calling cold leads became lost in the noise of robocalls and spam calls. Robocalls actually made up 5.42 billion of the calls made in February 2019 equating to 21 calls a person. People have become so tired of the mass calling, they got rid of landlines and switched to mobile devices. That’s pretty telling!

Even with mobile phones, consumers are often blocking numbers or picking up the phone, angry and frustrated the minute they realize it is a cold call. In fact, 90% of buyers say they never respond to cold calls or emails. Talk about beating a dead horse!

Consumers prefer to text.

The instant gratification of text has changed the world. Communication became more offensive for consumers as they adapted to speaking on their own terms. They can respond how they want when they want. Texting is just more convenient, all around.

89% of consumers are asking to text rather than talk on the phone. It has been slow moving as sales teams are finally adapting to a more omnichannel communication approach with text. But text cannot be something to consider anymore. It has to be the first thing sales offers their leads or they are going to continue to fall into the gap along with all the money invested to generate them.

Talk to a Verse Lead Conversion Specialist to see how we can help

Consumers use the Internet for research.

Buyers are skipping the pitch. Lately, they want to do the research themselves. From looking at reviews to checking out company’s websites, consumers want to know everything they can about a product or service before committing to a conversation.

This doesn’t mean companies should just wait for leads. It means there is an opportunity to capitalize on leads by letting the consumer remain comfortable and assured. Through marketing efforts, consumers can be motivated to fill out an inquiry or take a meeting with a salesperson. Cold calling will likely deter the consumer from ever interacting with the company again.

For more insight as to how you can close the gaps in your sales funnel through simple tools and adjustments, check out our Lead Conversion Gap and see what your sales team can do to convert more leads and book more appointments.

Talk to a Verse Lead Conversion Specialist to see how Verse can help.

Convert more leads with instant response and follow up powered by Verse.io.

Solar Consumer: Catering to the Lead

Solar Consumer: Catering to the Lead

Out of all the new industries in technology, solar is taking the lead. Where technology is constantly changing and evolving, solar industries have approached consumers with both great and potentially damaging tactics. While trying to provide an environmental and cost-effective energy alternative to the modern day consumer, solar companies have missed out on business simply by omitting practices like text communication.

Solar has made some changes to their sales approach by adapting to consumer’s needs – but there’s still a gap in their sales funnel. It’s important to note what changes are working for sales and where solar companies can still adjust and improve.

Solar Misses the Consumer

Solar sales teams are doing both inside and outside sales, calling warm leads and going door-to-door as an effort to influence financial breaks and savings for residential and commercial buildings. However, this is where solar companies are missing the mark with consumers. In fact, it’s a huge problem for the solar industry, in general.

Solar consumers are much more unique in that they are extremely involved in the buying process. Consumers want to do the research themselves. They don’t want a pitch or a salesperson at their door. They are wanting to truly understand the value and investment before booking an on-site appointment. It’s important to note as it is more unique than most consumers in other industries.

Additionally, Vikram Aggarwal of Energy Sage pointed out how cold-calling and purveying is making more solar skeptics than believers. Consumers are annoyed with this kind of sales approach and may never buy because of it. That’s a huge problem for all solar companies.

“Consumers are very interested in choice. They want to do their homework and consider all of their options. Just like when you buy a Honda and I buy an Infiniti, neither of us made a wrong choice, it’s just a choice made simply based on our values and that is exactly what we’re starting to see in the solar industry.”

Vikram

from Energy Sage

Need help converting more of your leads into solar appointments?

Talk to a Verse Lead Conversion Specialist to see how we can help.

Solar Adapts to the Consumer

Solar companies have done a fairly good job in certain areas – particularly in adjusting to the consumer’s needs in today’s circumstances. In light of COVID-19, solar companies have taken a whole new approach to their sales funnel as an opportunity to promote refinancing through cheaper electricity bills. It was important to make adjustments as lots of consumers are receiving their first electricity bills from quarantining and are ready to invest in cheaper alternatives.

Instead of on-site appointments, solar companies are using Google Maps and satellites to give virtual quotes to the consumer. This kind of virtual adjustment to the consumer was necessary as some solar companies have seen a 400 percent increase in solar inquiries in just the first two weeks of the lockdown. It ended up being a great strategy for keeping their business going during the pandemic. Not only that, but the willingness to adapt to the consumer is a pivotal quality in successful industries and businesses. COVID-19 knocked the wind out of plenty of businesses and yet, solar has remained standing because of this adaptation and flexibility.

But what if solar companies could be adapting more and, in return, grow their sales?

Solar Connects with the Consumer

While solar is quickly moving into the mainstream, their sales teams are still using most of the same outdated approaches when it comes to contacting their leads. As technology has rapidly grown in the 21st century, more and more people are refusing to pick up calls from numbers they don’t recognize. A consumer may even feel motivated to block the number out of frustration and discomfort.

What some solar companies are missing is an omnichannel approach, giving the consumer a choice in whether they communicate via phone, email or text. Unbeknownst to many, 89% of consumers would rather text than talk on the phone. Yet, several companies are still leaving voicemails and flooding inboxes.

Texting a lead can immediately make an impact on the buyer-seller relationship. As a lead fills out an inquiry on your website, you can immediately follow up with a text mentioning their inquiry before offering them their preferred method of communication (“Would you like to text or should I give you a call?”)

Legitimacy and comfort are then immediately established with the lead and they are more likely to listen and trust the salesman. This is vital. Remember the solar skeptics? Sales teams need to keep in mind: It’s not about selling to the consumer– they prefer doing the research themselves. It’s noticing their needs, answering informative and educating questions and providing quotes all tied up with the neat bow of meeting consumers on their terms and their time through texting.

And what’s more is texting can be a more effective way to at least qualify the lead. A salesperson may text a lead who turns out to be a renter instead of a homeowner. Instead of having wasted his or her time by showing up at their house, a salesperson can quickly disqualify a lead via text if they’re not the right fit.

The solar industry is competitive, so not only will it benefit your company to adjust its communication approach, but it will also put the company ahead of the competition by providing legitimacy and comfort for the consumer and establishing trust in the sales relationship.

Solar companies have got to start meeting the consumers from all areas, not just in times of desperation. Not catering to the consumer actually ends up leaving a massive chasm in the sales funnel called The Lead Conversion Gap. It’s into this gap that many leads fall through along with the money to generate them.

Sales teams can find much more success and less “lead fatigue” by catering to the consumer from the get-go. The consumer isn’t going to meet you on your terms and the instant gratification of text is sure to move the consumer towards the bottom of the funnel. This will inherently lead to a happier consumer, more sales and the dissolution of the Lead Conversion Gap.

Talk to a Verse Lead Conversion Specialist to see how Verse can help.

Convert more leads with instant response and follow up powered by Verse.io.

Marketing and the Lead Pond – Fishing for Prospects

Marketing and the Lead Pond – Fishing for Prospects

The lead pond, or the lead generation pool, is the treasure trove of the marketing world. Marketers are consistently trying to generate high volumes of high quality leads to their sales team. These marketers have the job of finding the right lead pond for their product or service, casting their net, and giving their earnings to sales who take care of preparing the leads for closings. (Lead Filet, anyone?)

There’s a problem, though. It’s not that marketers aren’t trying to support their sales team. Part of the struggle in the sales funnel revolves around a conversion gap in the middle of the sales funnel. It’s as if marketing has to take their lead earnings and “toss” them over this chasm, leaving sales to grab what they can, when they can. No one is winning.

Marketers need to adjust their “fishing” strategies in order to generate more high quality leads and support sales teams. These are some of the most result-driven strategies:

Use a CRM tool

If marketers are generating lots of leads but still hear complaints from sales about the quality, then a customer relationship management tool (or CRM) is a given. Marketers need to know what leads are qualifying and which aren’t so they can toss their net in the right direction.

Marketers love data and the accuracy of it only increases with a CRM tool and its lead data. A CRM tool will centralize all the customer and prospect’s information for you and even track your interactions with the leads. It should give more insight into the behavior of leads and help gauge their activity and where the lead was generated from. It can also help both teams examine marketing generating tactics and the ROI on campaigns.

With marketing aiming for more “big fish” from the lead pond, a CRM tool offers a level of visibility to both sales and marketing. The tool begins to bridge the gap between the teams and can help maintain accurate information on each individual lead’s profile while ensuring no fishing lines get tangled in the process. Businesses have seen around a 29% increase in closings and a 300% increase in conversions since using a CRM tool.

%

Increase in conversions using a CRM

Create a Lead Scoring Model

Not every sales and marketing team needs a lead scoring model. But if sales is being given more leads than they can handle, it’s time to reprioritize and capitalize on time and money that may be going toward unqualified leads.

The aforementioned CRMs typically offer a lead scoring model, along with marketing automation and email marketing platforms (it’s like Christmas for marketers). At times, a CRM can even exist as a stand alone software.

Whatever you use, lead scoring allows sales and marketing to align their goals and ultimately size their net accurately before they cast it into the lead pond. This level of targeting is only possible with an agreed rubric.

Demographic

If both departments do not have a complete understanding of the demographic, it’s vital to note that first. Be specific. Start by eliminating “ponds” or groups who would not buy your product or services by giving those a negative scoring. B2B companies should focus on giving points for things like the job position of the prospect (i.e. an executive or CEO should earn high points).

It’s also important to ask demographic-specific questions on your inquiry forms. Asking the role at their company or asking if they sell to business versus consumers can help you better understand the leads coming in and how they fit in your demographic.

Activity

The lead’s activity is another important component of lead scoring. The activity of a lead tells us more about their “shopping experience” and gives insight as to whether the lead is cold or warm. A lead’s score should increase when they do things like navigate to the pricing page, fill out an inquiry form, or click on a link in an email.

Demographic and lead activity are both vital to scoring. A lead may be active on your website and score as a hot lead, but having their demographic will accurately tell you the probability of purchase. Likewise, a person may fit the demographic but have little to no interaction with your company. Just treating them as a hot lead because they fit the demographic is another reason sales teams end up exhausted and burned out.

The Lead Conversion Gap isn’t one person’s fault. It takes two to tango and it isn’t simply sales inability to follow up with leads. If the leads themselves are unresponsive, marketing may be fishing in the wrong pond altogether and targeting the wrong demographic. Out of the most effective marketers, 68% say lead scoring is their top revenue contributor, so using this add-on is a clear payoff for both saved time and earned money. Not to mention, it’s all one step closer to bridging the gap for sales and marketing.

Talk to a Verse Lead Conversion Specialist to see how we can help

Utilize a Lead Conversion Solution

Even with a CRM tool and a lead scoring model, leads– and the money put in to create them– can fall through the cracks. Marketing typically generates cold leads, meaning they require nurturing over time before they will convert. In fact, a survey done by Data Box, 40-70% of qualified leads aren’t yet ready to buy. But do sales and marketing really have the time to nurture every single lead? Isn’t part of the problem the lack of time and bandwidth to stay on top of leads?

A lead conversion solution, like Verse, can fill in a lot of holes in the middle of the funnel. Instead of marketers spending time and efforts to qualify and nurture a lead over time, a lead conversion solution can do it for you. Using the effectiveness of technology and KPIs from your CRM tool, leads can be engaged quickly, nurtured over six months, and converted to an appointment with your sales team.

The lead engagement can now be fully handled from top to bottom of the sales funnel without anyone slipping through. They can even generate a script to qualify leads and give marketers more data to utilize in their marketing strategies.

Marketers can spend time working on generating higher volumes of qualified leads at a lower cost per opportunity for their sales. Now that marketing knows their lead pond and net size, sales can now spend more time closing deals (frying fish?).

Talk to a Verse Lead Conversion Specialist to see how Verse can help.

Convert more leads with instant response and follow up powered by Verse.io.

Insurance Leads and Easily Improving Online Conversion Rates

Insurance Leads and Easily Improving Online Conversion Rates

During these unprecedented and worrisome times, purchasing online insurance leads is a surefire way to get in front of motivated prospects. But to truly capitalize upon these market trends, insurance agents and brokers must overcome abysmal conversion rates while standing out from their competition and sifting an unfiltered lead pond – or else risk wasting all time and money.

All this is possible through employing proven conversion solutions.

Drumming up insurance leads can be done in a variety of ways; social media advertising, events, and even referrals are all options. However, one of the easiest ways to get leads is to just buy them. We all know of different types of list brokers and online sources that sell entire databases worth of lead information.

But the issue with purchasing insurance leads is always about quality. Anyone can put a massive list of names and contact information into a spreadsheet. However, if none of them are in the market for the insurance you’re selling, then it’s just a sunk cost. The integrity of the lead data and demographic information varies wildly, with no assurance of legitimacy. More than 40% of marketing experts say that poor lead quality is their biggest barrier to successful lead generation.

The ideal situation is when you can get high-quality insurance leads and get them cheaply. To do that requires some strategy and planning, so let’s look at the most effective ways to invest your time and money when it comes to purchasing leads.

Insurance Leads Can Cost a Lot, with Little in Return

Purchasing leads within the Insurance industry is a pricey endeavor. Shared insurance leads, as you’re aware, come at a minimal cost – anywhere from $10 -$18 per lead and scaling up from there with customizable filters. However, the tradeoff for this low barrier of entry is each respective lead is being sold to multiple insurance agents. At scale, you’re sinking a significant amount of money just for the chance to compete for an insurance lead – needless to say these leads come with zero quality guaranteed. Alternatively, an insurance agent can go the route of purchasing exclusive insurance leads, which removes this competitive factor at a steeper price – anywhere from $20-$50 per lead. So, before you know if they’ll prove to be of any value, you have to make a sizable investment.

Given that your ‘exclusive lead’ still possesses the prerogative to call 10 other agents and could have already submitted another quote – even these lead types come with little guarantee.

“The Leads are Weak”

“Cold calling, using life insurance lead lists, or using Internet leads and then doing a sales pitch over the phone just doesn’t cut it anymore” – Jeremy Nason, Think Advisor

The sentiment above is not entirely off base, especially in regards to simply cold calling. The problem with this line of thinking, however, is that it’s too one-dimensional in it’s dismissal of buying online leads. It’s reductive and misleading. While lead source certainly plays a factor, the return on any lead would be severely impacted by spammy, outdated, and impersonal contact methods. Plus, as mentioned earlier, purchasing leads is both easy and quick – so why rob yourself of the opportunity to corner the market while demand is on a rise?

Instead of foregoing a channel/tactic altogether, why not improve it by maximizing the benefits and mitigating the shortcomings? Focus on the best and filter out the rest.

Getting More from Online Insurance Leads

Consistent success with online insurance leads is typically achieved through the following:

  • Requirements: Be specific about what you’re looking for and only purchase from vendors who can deliver according to your specs. Integrity of your lists can save you a lot of money, along with the headache of sifting through leads that are clearly fake/bogus. Though this is not always possible, at minimum you shouldn’t settle for anything less than consistent formatting, along with clear demographic and geographic information. Demographic info, along with the following engagement tactics, can help centralize your focus on the big fish.
  • Process: Simply put – you need a conversion solution that will handle all aspects of engagement for you. Most of us can attest to instances of getting leads and never following up. Of course, the leads you don’t follow up on will be worthless to you. This especially rings true if you’re purchasing those leads.However, it’s a global pandemic. Your workforce, more than likely, has been drastically affected. Their time comes at a premium – now, more so than ever. So you can’t afford to squander that resource by tasking your team with half-assed follow up that will realistically achieve little results. You need something authentic, efficient, and consistent.Additionally, a solution like Verse.io handles the engagement for you and provides you with insights and lead data from all of our conversations with your prospects. By seamlessly integrating into your CRMs, Verse.io gives you the chance to optimize all of those purchased lists and focus the demographic of your future purchases.
  • Nurturing: Remember that leads all by themselves don’t really do much. If you nurture those leads through effective marketing efforts, you then can turn them into actual business opportunities over time. Part of doing this ensures you’re constantly focused on converting. If you aren’t, then your competitors are. Hubspot estimates that 74% of those who work with online leads believe that converting those leads into customers is their top business priority. (Wait. What’s this? Verse.io also provides long-term nurture? Wow. #ShamelessPlug)

Diversifying Your Lead Generation

Organic activity can deliver a lot of insurances leads (some say as much as 51% of your leads), while the cost of purchasing leads will likely result in smaller numbers. Yet, keep in mind that small businesses tend to fare the best when it comes to buying leads. Hubspot suggests that smaller businesses (those with $250,000 or less in annual revenue) can be very successful with approximately 100 quality leads per month. Larger businesses require a lot more leads and a lot more activity to get those leads. And, ultimately, it’s the quality of those leads that is most important.

There are endless ways to drum up business, and as we’ve seen here, online insurance leads can be an effective way to do that. The key is to be specific and focused about how you structure your lead buying, and then ensure you are implementing the right methods to guarantee a significant ROI.

Don’t miss out on your chance to drive more business. If you’re generating your insurance leads, hire a service, like Verse.io, to handle your engagement and improve your conversion rates.

The Lead Conversion Gap

The Lead Conversion Gap

The Lead Conversion Gap

Always be closing. Every sales team has heard this one before. In fact, it’s almost a mantra for any salesperson in the business world.

Despite this guideline, sales and marketing teams are struggling to fill the holes in their sales funnel. There’s a large gap somewhere during the handoff that is causing frustration on both ends.

This lead conversion gap is an issue — and it’s an issue because into it goes immense amounts of lost money, business, and time. Yet, people don’t know where to begin when it comes to bridging this gap. From what we’ve seen, many leaders and teams – from both marketing and sales – seem to have just accepted the gap as something they have to live with and don’t see it as something that they can address or fix.

Our CEO, David Tal, experienced these problems himself in the real estate world, and his lightbulb moment is what triggered a whole new kind of bridge to reunite sales and marketing teams in the sales funnel.

This guide covers “the gap” and the steps to bridge and close that gap, which have helped companies book more appointments and close more deals. Follow along with us and you should be able to link arms with your sales or marketing colleagues and watch your Lead Conversion Gap shrink.

The Gap between Sales and Marketing

Would you like to text?

Digital Storefronts: Open 24/7

Speed-to-Lead and Why it Matters

Tech + Human = Superhuman

Expensive and Complex Tech Stacks Aren’t Cutting It

1 The Gap Between Sales and Marketing

In the world of business, challenges and obstacles, such as lead conversion, arise often in all shapes and forms. Success or failure of an entire company can come down to the relatively simple question of: can they solve the problem?

Sales and marketing teams are very familiar with their problems and misalignments. Often, there can be a lot of pointing fingers. Maybe sales teams aren’t following up with the leads marketing gives them. Maybe marketing isn’t delivering high quality or high volume of leads. Whatever it may be, the hand-off between marketing and sales leaves about 55% of leads neglected without ever being contacted. This is a huge gap in the funnel many companies struggle to close.

While everyone is trying to figure out who to blame, both parties tend to have a role in the lead conversion struggles:

Common Problems in Marketing:

  • Poor understanding of targeted demographic (i.e. casting their net in the wrong pond)
  • Outdated lead generating tactics
  • Trouble generating a high volume of high quality leads

Common Problems in Sales:

  • Filtering and funneling leads
  • Following up with leads quickly enough
  • Maintaining sales morale (“lead fatigue”)

“Sales and marketing didn’t become misaligned all at once; they became gradually misaligned through a number of changes. The vast majority of these changes were not made to intentionally shaft one side or the other…Most causes of misalignment were made innocently, with the intent of making things better, not worse.”

Chris Bucholtz

CRM Journalist, at CallidusCloud

Marketers and sales have two different kinds of mindsets. While marketers might tend to think big picture, casting their large net into the “lead pond,” sales teams are focusing on individuals and closing deals. When marketing teams deliver leads, it can be incredibly overwhelming for the sales team to capitalize on them when they are constantly following up and chasing down prospects. This eventually leads to major “lead fatigue,” overall poor sales team morale, and of course, lower closing rates (and the aforementioned finger pointing).

Nurturing and qualifying leads is one of the most challenging and therefore often neglected areas of the sales funnel to date. The sales team cannot possibly be on call, ready to answer a lead within five minutes every time.  Sales teams are trying to nurture, but continue to fail, often due to simple bandwidth issues. However, it doesn’t mean the problem is unsolvable.

2 “Would you like to text?”

In a world of spam and Robocalls, sales teams struggle to get leads to pick up the phone. Phone and email communication has since taken the back seat due to the annoyance of overflowing, out-of-area phone calls and a full email inbox for consumers. Email specifically has fallen off dramatically with less than a 20% open rate for nurtured leads.

Put this into the context of your daily life – you probably open most, if not all, the texts you receive but how many emails do you delete without even opening?

One of the problems both marketing and sales teams are running into is truly not understanding their consumers, especially with respect to the way they communicate.

Sales teams are still wasting 15% of their day or more leaving voicemails instead of recognizing that consumers have clearly developed other communication preferences.

So, what exactly is going on in the minds of consumers?

As you can probably relate, consumers are:

  • Tired of spam calling
  • Not able to set aside 30 minutes to talk
  • Asking for text options– 9 in 10 prefer to TEXT

The comfort of the consumer during the sales process is vital. If a consumer is feeling bombarded, smothered, or inconvenienced, they will likely “ghost” the rep and their company and take their business somewhere else. Having a more “modern” contact center, with both AI and people driving the conversation and the option of text, leaves a consumer with the option to talk on their own terms and time.

At Verse, we’ve used Smart Cadence, which is a data-driven approach to texting and calling leads, to tackle this shift in consumer behavior. This part of our software monitors and records which communication works best for the consumer along with the platform, time of day, and day of the week they typically are available. For your business, taking the step to engage with leads via SMS in addition to calling and emailing is a critical first step.

Text is the surest and most effective way to communicate with consumers, and not just the younger ones. Businesses are mistaken to think millennials are the only ones communicating this way. It’s become the vast majority’s preferred method of communication. This is why we offer text right away.

Hardly anyone answers the phone from a number they do not know and, making the problem worse, if a lead does happen to pick up their phone for whatever reason, they tend to get aggravated instantly when they realize it’s a cold sales call. All of this means that sales teams are wasting a ton of time repetitively calling and emailing all of these leads.

Consumers likely block numbers or unsubscribe from emails, leaving sales stuck and forced to leave them alone. So, it’s clear that relying on phone or email communication isn’t meeting leads where they are at anymore. Communication has drastically evolved, pulled rapidly by the instant gratification of texting. In fact, Verse has reported that 89% of consumers prefer to communicate with businesses via SMS.

“Hi this is Alex with Sunline Energy. I got your inquiry form you filled out on the website. Is now a good time for a quick call, or would you prefer to text?”

At Verse we know the two important effects of offering text up front:

  1. Legitimacy. A consumer can tell when they’re speaking to a robot. Offering text instead of a phone call in this format shows they’re not talking to a chatbot or auto-reply system. It shows a human is willing to get on the phone with them right away and the consumer is therefore more comfortable.
  2. Comfort. The ball is now in the consumer’s court. They decide when and how they want to communicate, increasing the odds of real contact and an overall better sales-client relationship. No mass emails, calls, or voicemails necessary. If and when a consumer does request a call, at that point they’re expecting the conversation and tend to be delighted to receive a quick call in response. Talk about a dramatic shift away from irritated consumers getting tricked into picking up a cold call!

Part of the appeal with text revolves around the immediacy of it. Consumers can request a follow-up text quickly sent to their phone, which leaves them feeling taken care of and cared for when it comes to their business. Furthermore, it’s an easy way to capture the attention of consumers, as 98% of all text messages are opened, according to a study by Dynmark. That’s worth calling out again — 98%! Compare that to your email open rate or call answer rate.

Need help converting more of your leads into deals?

Talk to a Verse Lead Conversion Specialist to see how we can help.

3 Digital Storefronts: Open 24/7

Sales teams are all too aware of the difficulty of getting a hold of consumers and leads. As both sales reps and their prospects work primarily during business hours, a huge part of the challenge for sales teams is the struggle to contact or be available for consumers outside of working hours.

On the other hand, just 60% of consumers are likely to be willing or be available to speak during business hours. That translates to a staggering 40% of leads that sales teams will miss if they’re unable or unwilling to engage during:

  • Evenings
  • Weekends
  • Holidays

Technology is a huge reason society has shifted from its typical brick-and-mortar shopping to a more digital storefront. And now, consumers don’t have to shop during regular store hours. Yet, companies are not always sure on how to shift to this kind of change.

This is where a modern contact center comes in: a vital source of relief for sales teams. As we’ve covered, any salesperson is constantly trying to stay on top of their leads. They may even feel obligated to step away from an anniversary dinner to take a call or skip out on time with their kids to connect with a prospect. After all, 85% of consumers whose calls aren’t answered will not call back — all that sounds like is missed money and opportunity.

A 24/7 contact center prevents the sales team from having to step away from their family, miss a holiday party, or even interrupt their night’s rest. Rest assured, money can still be made for your sales teams without taking away from their quality of life.

With 75% of consumers saying how difficult it is to get a hold of sales teams, it’s important to examine other options. This is no longer a situation where sales should have to take the fall. Again, sales teams are not capable of 24/7 care– not even at their best.

A solid, state-side contact center can be the one to first contact a lead at 3AM or on New Year’s Day. Sales teams are composed of humans and we already know humans have lives. In fact, it is likely hurting your company and sales teams when the concept of “always be working” is seen as gospel. This is another part of what results in “lead fatigue,” overall poor sales morale, and eventually, a significant decrease in productivity. No one wants the job that takes away from their everyday life.

The summary is not that you or your sales reps should be giving up on consumers contacting outside of business hours. Quite the opposite, actually: to ensure a consumer is always being directly catered to, a contact center can bridge the gap so sales can focus on doing business in a time frame that works for both the consumer and themselves.

4 Speed-to-Lead and Why it Matters

Leads are coming in and coming in fast. Sales teams are doing their best to get in touch with all of them quickly, but they often fall short. Almost 1 in 2 businesses fail to respond to leads within 24 hours.

One of the main problems Verse noticed among sales teams was the lack of quick response time to leads once they’ve been generated or once they’ve filled out an inquiry.

During this lack of follow up, leads are:

  • Losing interest
  • Getting in touch with other businesses
  • Feeling unimportant
  • Not being nurtured

Not only does that mean that business is being lost, but, of course, a competitor is likely taking it. As part of a study by InsideSales.com, 10,000 companies were sent leads with a valid phone number and email address. Of those 10,000 companies, only 12 (!) had built or implemented systems to respond immediately to leads. In addition, 23% of leads were not contacted at all.

“Imagine going to Nordstrom’s on a Wednesday morning and asking to talk to a sales rep about a pair of shoes and the salesperson says they will be happy to help you Friday morning!”

David Elkington

CEO, at Inside Sales

There are three reasons Inside Sales cited re: why speed-to-lead is so vital:

  1. Presence detection – if a lead puts their information in on a website or fills out some sort of online inquiry form, the lead is likely still next to their phone or computer. Contacting a lead immediately provides the best odds by far for getting a lead to engage quickly.
  2. Top-of-mind-awareness – this concept of calling or contacting a lead immediately equates to staying on their mind. The average callback time is nearly 48 hours after a lead submits an inquiry — if you can’t outperform that significantly, the consumer will likely have forgotten about your business. (InsideSales.Com)
  3. The “Wow” effect – people seem to be impressed rather than concerned when a company follows up within minutes of inquiring! This “wow” factor creates a response from consumers that establishes immediate trust. Prospects likely correlate the promptness of a response and assume that their business was prioritized and valued.

The speed-to-lead mission is non-negotiable for sales teams to capitalize on their leads. The chances of a prospect turning into a qualified lead decrease rapidly within five minutes of going uncontacted. (InsideSales.com)

All of this lost opportunity was what drove Verse to create our conversational enablement platform in the first place. Most people think lead volume must equate to hiring more salespeople to handle the intake. But out of effectiveness and cost, a company is capitalizing and saving more by hiring a lead effectiveness solution to maintain leads for them.

Talk to a Verse Lead Conversion Specialist to see how we can help

Qualification rates from first response time

Data from InsideSales.com

  • 5 Min
  • 15 Min
  • 30 Min
  • 45 Min
  • 60 Min

A business is 21x more likely to convert a lead if engaged within five minutes

5 Tech + Human = Superhuman

Those who have already started using a conversational enablement platform know the reason behind having it. It’s an investment designed to help you communicate, nurture and qualify your leads on behalf of a weary sales team. It also helps the marketing team deliver return on their campaigns and expenses by giving them great lead data for future marketing strategies.

However, it’s worth noting the common problems of varying lead conversion options, many of which tend to be fairly one dimensional in nature:

  • A platform that relies on humans only (ISA only) for engagement. We already know this doesn’t work. If a sales team is exhausted from trying to contact and maintain leads, adding more people is just going to be more expensive and will lead to the same result. Yes, you can outsource SDR or BDR functionality to a domestic call center, but the issues we’ve covered, like lack of control, lack of coverage for off-hours, and high expenses will inevitably surface. AI can better use data to apply it to lead management than a human would in their own personal bandwidth. People alone are insufficient. (https://verse.io/blog/why-every-marketing-team-needs-ai-in-their-tech-stack/)
  • A platform that offers AI technology (artificial intelligence) only. While technology certainly makes up for the lack of efficiency in humans, AI just cannot connect with consumers like people do. Tech alone is inauthentic, and you’ll always risk alienating a percentage of your leads who quickly can tell that they’re not texting or emailing or chatting with a real person. Part of sales will always be human connection!
    • For example: A lead may be interested in buying a home but expresses concern about her insurance after losing her first home in a flood. An AI system would automate a response such as, “Great! I think you’d be a perfect fit for our agent,” completely neglecting the sensitivity of what the consumer just expressed. Leaving a consumer unvalidated is a certain way to lose them as a customer.
  • An off-shore call center. While often less expensive than domestic call centers based in the US, off-shore teams can be unreliable or struggle to accurately produce or follow scripts and maintain conversations with leads in an authentic, comfortable manner. The language barriers and lack of proximity causes more hiccups with leads than it does connection. Furthermore, it can take months to fully set up a contact center with trained staff — and then, if you need to change your process or script, you’ll essentially be starting all over again.

“Most software-only platforms come short, only helping to improve dead & struggling channels”

David Tal

CEO, at Verse.io

Most of the services that fit under these three categories are missing a key piece or two, and are static in their service. The importance of a well-rounded, conversational service revolves around closing the lead conversion gap in the sales funnel. Research shows that when you respond to leads first, you are 3x more likely to convert a lead. But the authenticity of humans is important, too! 

The goal is to leave no lead behind or simply put, to close the gap. You want to be the first to contact a lead, but you also need the ability to engage authentically and to adapt to a conversation when necessary. Taking this information into consideration when searching for a platform or building a system of your own will prevent future potential customers from ending up in the hands of your competitors.

A common problem companies run into when trying to find a solution that meets these admittedly tough criteria is the software itself. Most contact centers do not have a pre-built software that integrates with CRM solutions such as Salesforce or HubSpot. Trying to build software and then paying for the engineering maintenance can take too much time and also get pricey quickly, especially for a company which might not be generating high volumes of leads or revenue yet. If at all possible, your team is better off hiring a company who already has a software set up to integrate with your CRM solution.

Ultimately, at Verse we’ve aimed to cover all the bases and close conversion gaps throughout the funnel. Our software is driven by technology with humans to support the lead conversion process and capitalize on all leads. On top of that, the software is ready to be integrated into any CRM solution at any time, making it an easy and timely solution.

What about landlines?

No matter the source, Verse calls all landlines right away unless it is after hours. For any after hour landline leads, we email them right away, and we queue them up for a call in the morning.

6 Expensive and Complex Tech Stacks Aren’t Cutting It

Companies are starting to understand “Martech” and “conversational marketing” softwares are lacking where it really counts: the bottom of the funnel and actually getting all of those expensive leads to convert into opportunities. To go along with that, sales enablement platforms pick up at the opportunity stage, so we effectively see Martech and sales enablement on opposite sides of the conversion gap. There is a huge amount of money and time wasted, slipping into that chasm between marketing and sales, never to be seen again (no, tired marketing automation emails probably aren’t enough to pull them all out again).

The solution is engaging with a lead on their terms and their time, while having a system that doesn’t “forget” about leads. The future lies with text-first options, supported by a combination of AI and people who nurture and qualify those leads until they ultimately convert and sales can pick it up from there.

When a company decides to hire a call center for their company, the process is usually very tedious and lengthy. Trying to obtain licenses, train staff and supervisors, and build a standard software can take anywhere from 3 months to a year to get fully integrated.

We noticed all of these roadblocks, which is why Verse is the only contact center in 2020 that has its own software which integrates with any CRM solution – meaning your company does NOT have to invest tons of time and money creating and maintaining an additional software for the sake of a contact center.

The system also maintains a follow-up schedule over the course of 6 months. A lead may be unprepared to purchase at the start or may be deemed more qualified in the future. Either way, Verse is decided to be a contact center that would engage when the time is right. The leads a company generates should be faithfully contacted, nurtured and qualified to book more appointments or meetings than a sales team would have done alone.

When Verse brainstormed solutions to the problems in lead engagement platforms, we set out to fill all of these gaps by building a 24/7/365, state-side, modern contact center. With powerful technology taking center stage, humans are on-hand in a critical role: ready to step in and connect at the most important and high-value moments, where the technology alone doesn’t suffice. Verse fully bridges this conversion gap and all of its “holes,” thanks to an orderly exchange between AI and human conversation. It’s a solution that does all of the work for you, while also seamlessly integrating with your existing processes.

Watch David Tal, the CEO of Verse, show you how our lead engagement platform and software – driven by technology and the touch of authenticity from humans – works to qualify and convert leads through a simple, scripted conversation.

 

Talk to a Verse Lead Conversion Specialist to see how Verse can help.

Convert more leads with instant response and follow up powered by Verse.io.