Global technology client (EMEA Campaign)
A high proportion of inquiries received via the Web are often unqualified. When such inquiries are passed directly to sales representatives, fewer than half are timely followed up and the basis for choosing which to follow up can best be characterized as “cherry picking” — when selection is unrelated to the actual sales potential of the inquiry. This paradigm is exacerbated when only a very small proportion of inquiries are true expressions of near-term interest.
- The client company is a Fortune-sized, global technology business with excellent brand recognition that had created a technology solution which enabled their intellectual property to be applied to enterprise networks. While the technology offers great potential, combined with advantageous cost structure and an extremely strong brand, the client was entering a market dominated by several large global competitors with a history of deep inroads in that business in the enterprise market.
- The client did not invest significantly in actively marketing or advertising the product, relying primarily upon word of mouth, publicity, occasional conferences and cold calling.
- The client does not employ significant staff in a customer service or on-line sales support capacity. Much of its business is transacted via a Web-based self-service model. Thus, by providing links on their site with a promise of potential human interaction, they drew an extremely high proportion of false positive inquiries. Moreover, little or no screening was done on the Web forms to weed out false positives.
The client engaged ETI Sales Support to provide front-end pre-qualification of all inquiries originating from EMEA, the vast majority of which were driven by Web forms. In addition, ETI was also engaged in a program of outbound lead generation to uncover new qualified sales opportunities in selected target markets. The same team of trained, college-educated ETI Business Developers was utilized in both programs.Because of the technological constraints of the client’s Web-lead system, all inbound inquiries were forwarded to ETI via email, which required a manual data entry system to be established for creating and tracking each inquiry in the ETI database. This necessitated a relatively high (and wasteful) administrative investment.
The process was as follows: all inquiries received via email were immediately entered manually into the ETI database as they were received and a call scheduled for prompt follow up by a member of the ETI business development team. Most inquires generated were followed with a phone call less than an hour after inquiry receipt. The challenge, however, was to have to make contact via an outbound call which is typically far more costly than generating inbound phone traffic via a marketing campaign. Moreover, because a very large number of inquiries were clearly unqualified on the basis of the little information that was provided on the Web form, the team initiated a program of emailing each highly suspect inquiry received, providing them with basic information and a phone number and email address they could use to connect directly with an eti representative. That tactic significantly reduced the cost of the program by cutting the handling time of obviously unqualified opportunities while providing a means for those who were indeed qualified to engage an ETI representative.By streamlining the data entry and call-assignment process and by creating a pre-screening program that minimized the handling time of patently unqualified inquiries, the team successfully carried out a cost-effective lead qualification effort. At the same time, we could preserve the image and brand of our client by communicating a positive message to those who were false positive inquiries and who might have otherwise been ignored.
Approximately 10,000 inquiries were logged during the course of the project. Of these, we were able to reach and have conversations with just under 7,500 prospects (75% of inquiries). Approximately 2,000 inquiries (20%) were eliminated via the pre-screening process, and an additional 4,000 (40%) were determined to be invalid inquiries following one conversation. The project consumed slightly more than 3,000 calling hours and more than 11,000 calls.
We were able to identify and assign to a sales representative more than 900 qualified sales opportunities (9% of inquiries). We received feedback from the sales force on approximately 250 of the 900 assigned leads (28%); the client did not want to mandate closed-loop reporting, preferring instead to use their own systems and eliminate duplication of effort. Of the 250 feedback reports received, 47 sales were reported (~20%), an additional 100 (40%) were reported as lost opportunities (no sale) and the remainder were retained in the sales pipeline of the sales representative. Thus, approximately 1 in 3 records that reached a terminal disposition were recorded as a sale.
Projecting those results against the total number of sales-assigned opportunities, we estimate that there were 300 sales at an average value per sale of $40,000. The total estimated sales revenue for the program was, therefore, $12 million. The program cost was approximately $265,000.
Thus, the program ROI was projected to be $45 in revenue for every dollar expended (45:1).