In a recent HBR there was an interesting article titled ‘The Short Life of Online Sales’ by authors Oldroyd, McElheran and Elkington in which they research online sales effectiveness. Their findings? Most companies are simply not quick enough.

Increasingly various industries, including financial services, the auto industry, education, software, professional services and health care are turning to the internet to generate leads and drive sales. Online advertizing spend has doubled since 2005 and the growth curve shows no signs of abating.  In their research 2,241 US companies were audited, measuring how long it took to respond to a web generated lead. 37% responded within an hour; 16% responded within 24 hours and 24% of the companies took more than 24 hours to respond. An alarming statistic was that 23% of those polled never replied at all! The overall average response time within 30 days was 42 hours.

All in all the research shows that firms are far to slow in responding to such leads and the shocking reality is just how quickly such leads go cold. It was shown that firms which responded within a hour to a lead were up to seven times more likely to ‘qualify’ the lead, which is to say that a, ‘meaningful conversation followed with a key decision-maker’.

For many Boomer bosses, understanding the scope and pace of the connectivity brought about through the Internet via social technology, especially when it comes to marketing, is beyond their grasp. This is understandable given their historical expertise, experience and comfort levels with how the rules of the game have changed. Recently a colleague (Mike Saunders) and I facilitated a social technology ‘boot camp’ (workshop) for a major fashion retailer. At the end of the session one of the senior Executives dismissed the impact of social technology with a comment that reduced it all as merely ‘another channel to market’. Of course at one level he was right, however social technology extends way beyond being merely, ‘another channel to market’! Understanding that if we are going to ‘put ourselves out there’ by way of product and services, we need to ensure we have in place the systems that enable us to respond accordingly. This represents two sides of the same coin: an online presence – matched by a speedy response. The former without the later might actually do more harm than good!

It really is a new world and it is one that we cannot afford to ignore. Websites need to be more than glossy ‘online brochures’ and once they go the route of encouraging active participation, we need to be ready and waiting!





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