The Web is the number one lead generation channel for B2B marketers. Social communities, websites and the Internet are destination sites for B2B buyers researching planned purchases and educating themselves on key players in the market before raising their hand to any vendor. The quality of your online presence is a key determinate of whether a B2B buyer raises their hand to you or not.
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Sellers have figured out they can increase their odds if they can engage and build a relationship with a target account early in the buyer’s process. If Sellers can spot a potential buyer online, having an inside sales team (i.e., a sales team that calls inbound leads that are generated over Web) follow up can spell the difference between a qualified lead and a missed opportunity. It’s not about having your inside sales or BDR team call anyone who happens to be on your website or just downloaded any piece of content, it’s about first understanding your target buyers’ behavior on the Web and determining which are the right buyers to call.
Software Advice, a web-based company that objectively helps businesses find the right software solution for their needs more quickly, recently conducted a study where they collected and analyzed the behavior of over 6 million unique visitors between January 1, 2008 and August 31, 2013. The result of their analysis is in the B2B Buyer Behavior – Web & Phone Channels IndustryView | 2013 report which offers insights into how B2B buyers research solutions on the Web, when they convert on a website, and how you can get them on the phone.
The study data provides some fresh insights into how B2B buyers go about researching their purchases and how B2B inside sales teams can more effectively respond to buyer inquiries.
Respond Quickly to Buyers
A few years ago, InsideSales.com published The Lead Response Response Management Study. They found that calling a buyer within five minutes of converting on your site dramatically improved your chances of qualifying that buyer. In Software Advice’s study, they looked at the lead qualification rates if buyers were called within five seconds of registering for a key asset or CTA (call-to-action). What they found was that if a buyer was called within five seconds of converting than an additional 30 percent of buyers were qualified than if they had been called in five minutes.
This data is on buyers that requested a direct follow-up from a vendor’s sales team by asking for a software demo or price quote. As a result, the finding is only applicable to people that are ‘raising their hands’. The data makes a compelling case for investing in technology and processes that enable inside sales teams to spot, validate and then call these types of buyers as quickly as possible.
In other words, not every buyer or web visitor should be called within five seconds. For instance, a web visitor who just downloaded a buyer’s guide or an informational whitepaper doesn’t expect or, more importantly, want to hear from your sales team right away. For these buyers, you’re better off applying lead nurturing best practices and enabling them to progress along their buyers’ journey with personalized, targeted content that either you, your partners and customers develop.
Buyers Convert the Most at the Beginning of the Year
Inside Sales also analyzed the conversion rates at different months of the year, days of the week and times of the day. Looking at monthly buyer activity, the most interesting finding was that conversion rates were higher during Q1 and Q2, although there is a dip in June.
People come into the new year with renewed vigor and budgets. The finding offers an important lesson: It’s a good idea for your inside sales team to be at full capacity at the beginning of the year. So, have your new hires full trained and ramped by the end of December. In more general terms, this highlights the importance of planning your inside sales team’s capacity to match seasonal variations in lead volumes.
Your Best Days to Reach Buyers are Tuesday Through Thursday
The study also found that twice as many buyers convert on websites Tuesdays through Thursday than on Monday or Friday. In other words, Tuesday through Thursday are the prime days to have your inside sales team hit the phones.
One obvious implication of this finding is that you conduct off sites and other meetings on Mondays and Fridays when qualification rates are relatively lower. That way your inside sales team can be the most productive when buyers are receptive to taking their phone calls.
Best Practices Your Sales Team Can Implement
The Software Advice study surfaced some interesting best practices that B2B sales teams can put to use.
- Only call buyers right away if they request information directly. We’ve all had it happen to us. We download a whitepaper because we need some information or are conducting research… then the phone immediately starts ringing with sales calls. It’s important to understand that not every buyer wants to hear from you right away and that in some instances immediately following-up on an indirect action like downloading a whitepaper can be counterproductive. Use common sense and only follow up immediately with the buyers who want to hear from you right away, or who would appreciate a swift response.
- Map your sales team’s capacity to match variations in lead volumes. Every business has some variation throughout the year, month or day. Run a similar analysis on your data to see when your peaks and valleys occur throughout the year, month and day. When you uncover a particularly busy time, make sure that your sales team is at full capacity so you can take advantage of the opportunity.
- Consider providing services or perks to keep your inside sales team in the office. In the Software Advice report, they found that B2B buyers are most active searching the internet during lunch. If your buyer activity matched this scenario, pay for your team’s lunch so that key conversions during the lunch hours are not missed. Think about what other perks you can offer to keep your inside sales team happy and dialing.