The #1 path to increasing lead response rates

By Aldwin Neekon

exit sign illustrating falling lead response rates

You might forgive marketing people for forgetting this, but as a sales person you know that nothing happens until the lead starts talking to you.

Low lead response rates are your clearest indication that something’s wrong with your message or how you’re spreading it.

No amount of brand awareness or nurture or thought leadership means anything unless it gets a lead to say yes to a conversation with you.

There are two problems with this, and only the first one is normally talked about. We’re going to talk about both problems.

The first problem is about relevance and reach.

Does your marketing team have messaging that the leads find relevant?

And can they find ways to have that message reach the lead?

All the things we normally hear about personalization of content, creating urgency, storytelling, branding, advertising, all of it is really about relevance and reach.

Can we reach the right people with a relevant message?

But there’s a second type of response rate problem that is not talked about:

What happens when your message is relevant, and it reaches and even engages the lead, but then the lead disengages?

What do you do then?

Response rate averages can trick you

Your overall response rate might look fine but if you look at how your response rate changes over time you’ll see cohorts that go through a period where they show a huge response rate, followed by a complete drop off in their response rate.

I’m talking down to nothing.

0% response rate!

They just ignore you.

This specially hurts because the disengaged lead already knows about you. They already find your message relevant, or else they wouldn’t have engaged with you in the first place. Obviously you found a way to reach them too.

But now they’re no longer responding to anything you do.

They’re not reading your emails, downloading your pdfs, registering for your webinars…

What’s going on?

Let’s turn the table. Have you ever disengaged from a vendor even though you like what they do? Why?

Here’s an overlooked reason: It’s work.

It takes work to read a vendor’s emails, to download their pdfs, to attend their webinars, to think about their message, to remember their brand. It all takes work.

And we’re all so busy now that we don’t want extra work. Although we don’t think of this as our “response rate” going down, that’s how the vendor will see it.

But it’s not that we don’t value the vendor anymore. We’ll do the work if we think it will remove other work.

If it’s taking us an extra 10 hours a week to get a job done, and we think that could be done in 2 hours, then we will do the work of engage with the vendors who say they can make that happen. Even though we really don’t want to.

Chances are pretty good that a lot of your newly disengaged leads are in this boat. This is when you have to admit you have a lead engagement problem and get to work.

To get them to re-engage, you have to make the work worthwhile.

But here’s where we run into a circular problem.

They’re already checked out. And sending them more of the same messaging that engaged them in the first place isn’t going to get them to re-engage. They’ve already been there, done that.

If you can’t change the message, change the medium.

Find ways to get people they still engage with to give them the message.

For example, their peers. If you’re selling to CFOs, get other CFOs to deliver your message. If you’re selling to a given industry, get other people from that industry to deliver your message.

Chances are good that your leads haven’t disengaged from their peers.

How do you get this to happen? Lots of ways. The way that works really well for a lot of my clients is what I call the Buyer Roundtable.

Invite a group of peers to discuss a problem you solve, while you say nothing and take notes.

It works. It might even work for you.


See also: Lead re-engagement

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