Growth & Marketing

October 25, 2020

November 25, 2021

B2B sales pipeline: A new approach to improve qualified leads and closing ratios

Table of contents

Traditionally, sales teams tend to manually coordinate the demo booking process, relying on emails and phone calls to find a time to talk with the user. But as requests increase, it becomes more difficult for sales teams to respond to them at the right pace.

However, many studies have shown that precisely the lead response time — the time it takes us to follow up with a contact after identifying her as a lead — is actually a key factor to close the deal.

How many times have you filled out a form and the confirmation response was, “Thank you. We’ll contact you shortly”? But what exactly does "shortly" mean?

Lead response time in B2B sales teams

Well, a study conducted by the Harvard Business Review has analyzed the response time of more than 2,000 B2B companies and found that the average time was 42 hours.

When the sales team finally responds, it takes an average of 4 days of back-and-forth emails just to get to a first meeting. The problem with this is that buyers are usually busy, so they tend to move onto other things, other meetings and, sometimes, onto your competitors' website, and 38% of the leads never reply back

Imagine that you walk into a physical store and instead of being able to talk to a salesperson, you are blocked at the door, they ask you to fill in a form and say “Thanks, we’ll contact you shortly”. It feels weird, but for some reason it feels normal for B2B companies.

The impact on lead acquisition cost

B2B marketers will spend their budgets and do everything possible to target the most qualified leads, and convert those visitors into potential customers.

But not every qualified lead wants to fill in your contact form. Studies have shown that only about 5% fill out lead capture forms. And what happens if we also say to those few "We’ll contact you soon"?

This is a process where no one really wins. Marketers spend money to attract highly targeted leads that often never result in form completion. Buyers were ready to engage with your sales team but no one was there to talk to them. The sales team spend days trying to book a meeting with the leads and more than a third of them never respond.

According to InsideSales, 50% of buyers choose the vendor that responds first. So why continue to maintain this modus operandi? It really doesn't make sense. Plus, why does the sales team take so long to reply?

The cost of manually qualifying leads

The speed at which our team is able to qualify and prioritize leads is a key factor in improving the conversion of our sales funnel. Although it obviously varies depending on the number of requests, this is the task that most often lengthens the lead response time in most of them.

Sales qualification is important because close rations depend on it. Without this process, you risk pursuing leads who aren’t a good fit for the product while spending time and energy. The problem is that a lot of companies base the qualification in the contact form.

Including as many fields as information is needed to qualify the lead, although this is known to harm conversion, it is still a common practice. In fact, in a study conducted by us, we found that 84% of B2B companies include from 6 to more than 15 fields in their contact form.

But as the number of form fields increases, conversion rates decrease, as HubSpot has shown. So how can we save time for our team without creating a frightful form?

Automating the lead qualification process

Creating a frictionless lead qualification form and getting all the data you need, without the need to manually qualify them, is made possible by data enrichment services.

You've probably heard of tools such as Clearbit, Apollo, Lusha, Pipl or FullContact. They are used by many companies to qualify their users but it is possible to go a little further with them. Actually, you can connect them with your forms to fully automate it.

Just asking for their corporate email, they allow you to complete the profile data of your leads and the company they work for, without having to ask for it in the form. For example, you can automate the collection of the most common data in lead qualification processes: size of the company, industry, decision-making capacity of the person, etc.

This way you can significantly reduce the number of fields and also prevent your sales team from having to manually search for data to properly qualify them. This way they will be able to prioritize leads in a more agile way and considerably reduce response times.

Setting the first meeting in no time

Precisely, the goal of that response is usually to set up a first meeting, but there is a way to avoid the back-and-forth of emails with the lead. 

Including in the contact form the possibility of setting the day and time of the meeting will save us all that time and effort but, as we have found, only 13% of the forms allow users to schedule the meeting.

Different solutions like Calendly and Chili Piper have emerged to deal with the loss of time involved in this process. They allow you to embed a custom calendar into the form without needing to develop it from scratch, saving time for both the sales and the development team. 

So what would the process look like after these changes?

The approach: A form with calendar, data enrichment and conditional logic

Since the use of data enrichment will solve most of the previous problems, the solution could materialize in a flow like this.

The key points of the flow are these:

  • Ask for a corporate email. Build a form with the minimum number of fields possible in which it is essential to request a corporate email. We will use it for data enrichment. 
  • Add the appropriate fields. Check the information provided by the data enrichment service you have chosen and don’t ask for it in the form. By doing this you can remove a bunch of redundant fields and focus on asking much more specific questions.
  • Include a calendar widget. Embed the calendar widget you have chosen to use in a second step of the form, and update your availability in it. 
  • Connect the data enrichment service. Configure the form to send the email to the data enrichment service and this to automatically search for the data related to it.
  • Real-time qualification and conditional logic. The flow qualifies leads in real time and, depending on their relevance, decides whether or not to set a meeting.
  • Test and iterate. Compare the results to the form you were using with an A/B test. Continue testing the improvements until you find the perfect fit for your form and its highest conversion rate.

Not sure how to try this quickly? Reaching the maximum conversion rate of our forms is a challenge that depends on many details. The ability to iterate in no time is the key to achieving it and that is exactly what Arengu allows you to do.

Easily build any form and flow, and connect Clearbit by simply pasting the API key of your account. Haven't you tried it yet? Sign up free or schedule a demo with our team.

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