Irrefutable Proof That Inbound Marketers Need A Major Reality Check

Irrefutable Proof That Inbound Marketers Need A Major Reality Check

Business October 30, 2013 / By Steve Olenski
Irrefutable Proof That Inbound Marketers Need A Major Reality Check

A major disparity exists between perception and reality when it comes to inbound marketing.

Now I don’t know about you but being the sports fanatic I am, I am often in need of a “reality check” for sure. I think most sports fans need this from time to time as too often we get caught up in the hype or hyperbole of a given athlete or team. 

It would appear that those who live, play and dwell in the inbound marketing world need to be “reminded of the state of things in the real world.” At least that’s the conclusion I drew from reading the findings of a study conducted by which revealed that one sales lead after another is essentially being wasted as far too many in the position to respond to those leads – AKA sales folks, simply are out of touch when it comes to reality.

Let’s Go Back Before We Go Ahead

In May of last year I wrote an article entitled When It Comes To Inbound Marketing Time Is Definitely Of The Essence. That piece centered around a groundbreaking 2007 survey of over 600 companies including Fortune 500 companies, mid-market and small businesses on the subject of web based leads and how and when to best respond to them.

The 2007 survey revealed many telling and troubling insights with the most prominent being the fact that the odds making contact with a new lead are extremely high if you call within the first 5 minutes of submission. The reason for my 2012 article about a 2007 survey was due to the fact that Dave Elkington, CEO, chairman and founder of and Ken Krogue, president and co-founder of decided to “take another look.”

They wanted to see if anything had changed since the results of the survey came about five years prior.

They had not

As Krogue told me for my article last year "the bar is still set pretty low” and that many businesses are still “not responding fast enough nor are they persistent enough.”

Perception Vs. Reality

What Elkington and Krogue decided to do this time around was not only survey the sales folks entrusted to respond to all those web-based leads but in fact audit them to see for themselves if they are in fact responding in the manner in which they say they are.

That sets the stage for their latest study which inspired the title of my article for I think you will see indisputable proof that inbound marketers need a reality check and boy did they get one.









As the chart above shows, nearly 25% of respondents think that they respond to leads within 5 minutes.

However, only 5% actually do. That is truly frightening and quite telling for sure to see such a wide gap between reality and perception.

How many sales leads are simply withering away to nothing, literally? Elkington says that simply does not need to be the case saying “companies don’t have to leave that much of the harvest dying on the vine. By simply making a more conscious effort to contact leads at the right time and in the right way, they can make huge gains in their customer base.”

And you want to talk frightening?

Check this out:



Respondents think they are responding 5 or more times to a lead when in reality the most common number of attempts was zero! How in the world can there be such a disparity between reality and perception?

How can this happen particularly with so much at stake? How can there be, as Elkington puts it “…so much wasted expense and lost potential revenue going undetected?”

From Krogue’s point of view it all comes back to the age old battle royal – sales vs. marketing. “When sales and marketing meet, traditionally there is a lot of contention,” says Krogue. “Sales says they need more leads, and marketing says that sales need to contact them faster. In this case, marketing is right. It’s like a relay race. Sales teams need to take advantage of those leads right at the hand-off.”

Proactive vs. Reactive

Curtis Thompson, Vice President of Sales at Responsys (full disclosure: my employer) agrees that time is most assuredly of the essence when it comes to sales leads and the responding thereof:  ”Clearly if responding to inbound leads within 5 minutes has such a big impact on their likelihood to convert, this is extremely valuable data, and companies need to build a culture of fast response, as well as the systems to enable this.”

However, Thompson thinks sales folks need to be more proactive and focus not only on the inbound marketing side of the aisle but the outbound marketing side as well. “We can’t wait for marketing to create all our leads,” he said. “Our sales organization has to proactively target companies who should be our customers, and educate them into our sales process.”

Fine Tuning The Channel

Man I just had a flashback to the days when you had to tune in a TV channel to get optimal reception. Ah the days of manually changing the channel and rabbit ears. Sure glad those days are over.

But I digress.

When it comes to the optimal channel – the initial optimal channel that is, to reach a potential lead the best approach is also the most traditional one. From the survey’s findings: “Responding first by phone is the most effective way to first contact a lead. Sending an email at the same time as the call can also work, but it is essential that the phone call happens. This is because phone calls are fast—questions can be answered, next steps can be discussed, and the sale can move forward without the back-and-forth delays of email.”

However, as the chart below reflects, that whole reality check thing is permeating into how sales people think they contact leads i.e. channel vs. what is really going on.









In a word: Wow.

This is by far the greatest disparity in the entire survey when it comes to perception vs. reality. I am by no means making a case for salespeople to only use the phone when responding to leads but there has to be a happy medium for sure.

From the survey’s findings: “It is important that companies find a good balance between phone and email. Both can serve important purposes—perhaps someone is unable to answer the phone at any given moment, but they have access to email, and vice versa.”

Can’t We All Just Along?

Sales and marketing and email and phone need to come together in one glorious group hug and all will be right in the land. Or something like that.

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