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Lead Generation - How to Follow up

Lead generation for the sales funnel

Traffic, Engagement and Leads

That's what we deal in, everything we do for our clients is measured by those three metrics...  of course there is Sales too - But we can only use quality content marketing techniques to influence the first three, Sales will naturally follow - In modern day marketing, it is vitally important to keep your sales funnel topped up, otherwise you will be struggling when it comes to the bottom line.

Furthermore, with the rapid advances in digital communications and the change in the way we consume information, the days of the lazy sales rep (you know, the guy only interested in signed purchase orders) are unfortunately numbered.

Maybe this sounds all too familiar: Your site-visitor has read your article, expressed interest, filled out your form, given you their name and email address... so now it is your obligation to send them over to sales right?

Well, no. For starters not every lead will be sales qualified, and with sales cycles of months or even years in the scientific and industrial sectors, odds are they won't be buying within the next 3 months - Therefore, Lead Nurturing is essential.

Lead Nurturing is about building relationships with your leads and prospects - Only 3% of your market will be actively buying at any given time.

If you want to do it right, let's put the statistics below into context.

  • 44% of salespeople will try a lead once then give up - Shocking right? Well read on...
  • Only 25% of leads are classed as Sales Qualified Leads - Think of the poor sales rep who gets bombarded with the unqualified 75%, no wonder they only follow up once, they don't have the time!
  • 80% of sales need five follow-ups - That's a lot of planning, scheduling calls, emails and meetings! That number increases the larger the company; the more complex the decision making process, the more meetings required to close a sale.
  • 63% of people requesting information on your company will not purchase for at least three months - At any given time, only 3% of your market are actively buying - Talk about a long sales cycle... make sure your content adds value for the other 97%!
  • Nurtured Leads produce 20% more business opportunities than those that aren't - Lead nurturing not only saves your sales reps time by not following up with unqualified leads, but when the leads do become qualified, they become more valuable to the business.
  • Maybe most shockingly of all, The Harvard Business Review says that 71% of qualified leads are never followed up with!

The evidence is almost unbelievable. Only a small percentage of companies are making most of the sales. It’s these companies who have discovered the secret of great lead management.

All of these statistics demonstrate two things:

  1. There is a clear disconnect between Sales and Marketing: A Sales Qualified Lead is not the same as a Marketing Qualified Lead
  2. Lead Qualification is the key to a harmonious relationship between Sales & Marketing

Lead Nurturing along the Sales Funnel using Content Objectives

When we create content, before doing anything, we ask "What is the purpose of the content?" We like to imagine a fictional reader or buyer persona and we create content for that individual. Top of the funnel content is designed to generate lots of traffic and awareness, middle of the funnel should be more specific to a range of problems and solutions. Finally, bottom of the funnel content should be focused on aiding a final decision and solving a specific problem.

Content objectives and the sales funnel

Engage unknown visitors

Promote quality content to generate awareness and attract visitors by a wide range of channels, from Press to Social Media and 3rd Party content hosting.

Capture data to generate leads

Use CTAs and form fill-ins along with more application specific content to address particular problems and highlight solutions. This will generate more named individuals. Be sure to add a further qualification step before handing over to sales, they may be the best looking lead in the world, however if they are not in the market for another 12 months, they don't need to pestered by over eager sales reps. If they are not yet ready, keep them on the "Marketing Qualified Lead" list until they show intent to purchase; with a few buying signals, they will qualify themselves as a Sales Qualified Lead and you will save everybody precious time.

Close the deal

When your Sales Qualified Lead is ready, all of the touchpoints you offered them will not be forgotten. First and foremost, you were there when they first started researching their problem, when they had more technically specific questions and now that trust will more than likely be reciprocated.

Grow your Clients' accounts

Now you have a fiscal agreement with your customers, you can focus on ways to develop your relationship through upselling your ancilliary services and add-ons.

Following up with Sales Qualified Leads

Start by making follow-up an important part of your day. Failure to follow up can cost your company money. Think about all of the effort that went into acquiring and qualifying that lead and commit to following up, no matter what.

When you do follow up, do so quickly. Leads can go cold after only an hour. When you follow up within the first hour, you are more than 60 times as likely to get a meaningful response than those who follow up after more than a day. Tempted to wait? Well, 35-50% of sales go to the vendor that responds first.

Create a follow up schedule that makes sense, and then stick to it. A part of each day should be dedicated solely to the follow-up process. This routine will help you increase sales and up your number of business partners.

Although it pains me to say this, we often see large Scientific and Industrial companies passing leads around territories and divisions internally for days, weeks or even months before any meaningful follow up occurs from the supplier - Unsurprisingly by that time the opportunity will have probably passed. Grab the bull by the horns and help the inquirer! If you can't help them, find someone who can!

When You Do Follow Up, Do So With Care

Put together a lead process and make sure that the right person responds. It’s often the first person who is encountered that builds the foundation for a customer’s relationship with an organization. Keep in mind that email is not the only follow-up method. The phone is a powerful sales tool.

Since it can take some time to convert a lead to a customer, it’s okay to take it slow. Even if a prospect has provided you with a lot of detail and seems like a sure thing, confirm that you understand what they’re looking for and spend the necessary time to build a solid relationship.

Don’t forget your follow-up strategy.

Schedule your follow-ups in a logical manner. Document each follow-up contact you make. Share with your lead how your sales cycle works and ask for feedback so you can up your chances of a successful partnership.

Don’t forget that one lead often leads to another, so while you are following up with one lead, plan for the next. Even after your lead is converted to a customer, keep your lines of communication open.

The likelihood of a future sale increases with each additional sale.

After sale one, there is a 27% chance of a repeat purchase. Sale two increases the likelihood of another sale to 45%. By the third sale, there is a significant jump and you’ll have a 54% chance of another purchase - Turn your customers into long lasting clients!

If you are struggling with your lead generation, qualification and nurturing, perhaps you need to re-think your strategy and process. Get in touch to see how we can help increase both your effectiveness and efficiency in lead generation.

Posted by Frank Barker

Having spent his younger years playing Rugby in the sunny climes of Spain and Australia, Frank graduated from Loughborough University with a BSc in International Business before settling back in rainy Manchester. Frank has helped numerous Science, Engineering and Healthcare companies to create marketing strategies that engage with niche audiences. Having started his career in Sales, he now runs the Marketing department for AZoNetwork. He specialises in data management for sales teams, equipping them with the most actionable, real-time marketing insights from the first touch point through to revenue generating opportunity. A sportsman at heart, Frank still enjoys lacing up the boots for his beloved Macclesfield 1st XV Rugby or pulling on the whites to represent the more serious Macclesfield 3rd XI Cricket team.    

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