There’s ample evidence and research now that proves faster response time on inbound leads can increase your connect and conversion rates. I liked Howard Sewell‘s recent post on this citing some great research from Software Advice as well.
But there’s an important qualifier to this. If a prospect specifically requests more information, if they’ve specifically asked for someone to follow up to answer some of their questions, immediate follow-up is a great best practice.
But if someone merely downloads a white paper, or signs up for your upcoming webinar, an immediate scorched-earth when-can-we-talk sales follow-up campaign will likely have the opposite effect.
The transcribed email exchange below represents what I can only hope is a well-intentioned but clearly poorly-executed follow-up strategy. I wouldn’t even call it a lead follow-up strategy because I wasn’t even a lead.
A company I’ve recently been interested in is hosting a webinar next week. I won’t name the company or sales rep specifically to protect the guilty. This morning I signed up for the webinar. Within five minutes, I had been called, emailed and effectively paged by an eager sales rep to get on the phone with them.
Thankfully I was in a meeting when the barrage began. Before I even got to the rep’s voicemail, one of our client services directors sent me the following email:
A very persistent sales guy from REDACTED COMPANY has been hounding our front desk and they asked me to handle it. Apparently you downloaded something and that meant that you are super interested and ready to buy. What a joker. I put him into your voice mail.
Again, before I even checked for the voicemail, I received the following email from the sales rep in question:
Hope all is well!
As I mentioned in the VM, I wanted to see how your trial was going and offer any assistance.
Please let me know when we can have a quick chat.
Thanks and looking forward!
It’s a pleasant enough email, if I had started a trial. But I hadn’t. I had simply signed up for a webinar. Here’s the rest of the email exchange with Paul (grammatical mistakes and run-on sentences are left intact):
I signed up for the webinar but haven’t yet started a trial. What would you like to chat about?
If you need any questions answered i am here to help you if you need anything and what i can do to get you on board with us.
All I did was sign up for the webinar though, right? I’m interested in the content you’re promoting, not necessarily buying the product at this point.
Ok when can i call you
Seriously? What would we talk about? All I did was sign up for a Webinar. I’m surprised to be getting the hard-sell already.
Dont wanna sell you anything just yet just wanna know what you do.
Have you been to my Web site?
Just looked at website it looks good
That’s where the exchange ended, mercifully.
Paul didn’t get what he wanted, and there really wasn’t any harm done on my end. I’m still very interested in the webinar’s content and will likely still attend. But the nature and unprofessionalism of the exchange put a very bad taste in my mouth and set a very bad first impression of the organization.
It’s easy to justify that any registration is a warm lead. That every qualified company is worth following up on. But there are smart ways to do that and dumb ways.
Maybe worse, it’s possible this sales rep’s manager will think he had a productive day. He probably dialed my line and our front desk’s line 4-5 times today. If he’s being measured on dials, perhaps he’s perceived as one of his sales floor’s most “efficient” reps. Scary thought.