Measuring the effectiveness of lead gen programs is always at the top of a demand gen expert's list of priorities. One of the gating factors happens to be out of their control -- what does the sales team do with a lead once they start working it?
In a previous blog article, I shared poll results showing C Level prospects being more than willing to take their first introductory appointment by phone. Of their initial meetings with vendors, 58% were by phone and of those, 69% were "effective."
In general, it is becoming more the norm to begin a relationship by phone. But what happens next? The outcome of meeting number one should be to have a follow-on sales activity. What should be the goal for meeting number two?
For myself, I made it my goal over the past six months if an introductory call was going well to ask for a face-to-face meeting. The next step in the sales process may be to present a quote or meet other decision makers, but by insisting on a face-to-face meeting, I was able to put my best foot forward and start building rapport at a level beyond what a second phone call could provide. No hard stats to back it up, however: In Q1 of 2010 we closed the same amount of business as Q3 and Q4 of 2009, and in 2009 we grew by a factor of 3X.
Questions this raises:
Should that first meeting have been face-to-face?
I think not. Of the appointments I took, roughly 4 in 10 resulted in that second meeting. A third resulted in nurturing activities, and the remaining meetings were discarded as unqualified. Making the first appointment by phone allowed me to avoid travel and time investment in the 60% that didn't result in immediate sales activity.
Should I have handled meeting number two by phone?
I've done it before; in fact, a majority of 2007 through 2009 was spent effectively selling with phone relationships. That said, I think that my best selling is when people get to meet me, in person, and can feel the integrity and passion that I bring to each project.
Should you add "meeting two should be face-to-face" to your demand gen SLA with sales in order to increase the effectiveness of the leads you generate?
If you are in a sales environment that eventually end up in face time, then I recommend it. Have a qualfied criteria that defines which opportunities move to the face time requirement, but definitely consider adding it. The Internet and increased communications tools could be holding back your conversion rate.