While companies that used a top customer relationship management (CRM) platform for selling were faster at contacting leads by phone and email than Fortune 100 companies, they failed to respond at rates that would meet buyer’s expectations, according to a report from cloud-based sales software specialist Velocify.
Sales CRM users were more persistent on average than Fortune 100 companies, making 23 percent more call attempts on average and sending 29 percent more emails on average, according to the report.
Velocify conducted the secret shopper study by filling out multiple online lead forms of companies that were highlighted on the Websites of CRM solution providers as customer success stories using the CRM solution in a sales capacity.
Researchers tracked how quickly these companies responded by phone and email, and how many response attempts they made in the following 22 days.
"This research found a clear gap exists at the initial point of contact with a sales-ready lead," Nick Hedges, CEO and president of Velocify, told eWEEK. "And we’re not that surprised. What we find time and time again is that most companies that perform poorly in this regard have no idea, because their systems and reports aren’t exposing the issue."
In addition, tech companies performed 60 percent better than non-tech companies in following optimal contact strategies, and sales teams using one of the five CRMs included in the study significantly outperformed all other sales CRM users.
Hedges said one reason they believe tech companies are doing better is because they often lead other markets in terms of innovative processes and technology deployment, and they also tend to spend more on technology to support their teams and customers.
"The problem our research uncovered is CRM alone is not enough to meet the needs of buyers in, what is today, a much more rapid pace of business. The buyer’s time is so fragmented, they’re so much more informed, and they’re quicker than ever to move on if your response is slow," Hedges said. "Research has shown that buyers would actually prefer a rude response if it was fast, than to receive a slow response or no response at all. That’s the world we now live in."
Nearly one-fifth (19 percent) of inquiring prospects waited days or weeks to get an initial call from companies that use sales CRM solutions, and 13 percent of leads received no response of any kind to their online inquiry--not a single email or phone call.
Just 57 percent of inquiring buyers received at least one phone call and one email in response to their inquiries. A July Velocify research report found the optimal number of call attempts is six and email attempts is five.
"One reason CRM users fall short in lead response is because CRM solutions are fundamentally designed to leave the decision of who to call, when to call and how to respond and follow-up to the discretion of individual sales reps," Hedges said. "When you think about all the different approaches that could be taken, and how other concurrent priorities could get in the way, it’s no wonder that such a large percentage of inquiring buyers never get a call from a salesperson or wait much longer than they should to get a response."