Adam Bluemner is managing editor for Find Accounting Software. He writes extensively on accounting, ERP, and business management software.

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I invited Adam to Marketing Smarts to talk about a case study he wrote on the most effective follow-up strategies for B2B Web leads, in which he analyzed findings from 63,256 calls. His report, "Case Study: 63,256 Calls Boiled Down to the Most Effective Web Lead Follow-Up Strategies," offers insights into to improving contact rates, the affect of follow-up speed on results, the average number of calls to qualify a lead, and more.

Here are just a few highlights from our conversation:

To maximize your chance of reaching B2B sales prospects, call right away (ideally, the minute an inquiry comes in through your website) (06:50): "The clock starts immediately.... When we called right away, we spoke with over half of the people.... But if we waited and called the next day, that [contact rate] drops way down. It's below one-third. A lot more people are not going to answer if you're waiting a day to follow up.... It makes intuitive sense. If you call somebody right away after they've made a request, they're ostensibly available, they're thinking about it. They haven't had time to maybe change their mind, so that's something that we expected to see, but that's a pretty substantial drop-off, though, going to that next day."

Waiting even one hour after to follow up after a Web lead comes in can cut your qualification rates in half (07:30): "We wondered, if you call right away, does it freak people out? Is it going to take them so off-guard that their phone is ringing right away that maybe, yes, you'll getting in touch with them, but you would have a reaction that's kind of negative where they say, 'Yeah, I'm just not interested in moving forward with this.' So that was the second way we tested.... We actually looked at our qualification rates and that was where we saw the most surprising information.

"The difference between calling within the first minute and waiting an hour was double the qualification rate. When we wait an hour, literally half the people will say, 'Yeah, I want to move forward with this....' The longer you wait, the more likely they are to say 'no.'"

If at first you don't succeed in getting a prospect on the phone, try again...and again and again and again until you've tried 10 times! (12:49): "Where does it make sense for a business, where is it actually profitable, to continue to call? How do you figure that out? Well, if you're a business you have to look at the expected value of every call that you're making. You can figure out 'my conversion percentage on different leads that I work with is 10%. The average sale is $100 or $1,000.' Whatever it is, you can come up with your expected value. So what we're looking at is mapping that against your likelihood of reaching somebody.

"I think the reason that salespeople stop calling is because very, very quickly it becomes difficult to get somebody—especially if you're looking at just a per-call average. If you go out and you're looking at something where it's like the fourth or the fifth call, only about one out of ten times are people going to pick up that call. But if you had just given up at that first one, you're going to go from a seventy percent likelihood of having gotten in touch with that person to about a forty percent likelihood.... When you actually look at the numbers, a lot of times it's worth it to make more calls than a salesperson might intuitively think." 

Be sure to check out the complete case study and, to learn more, visit FindAccountingSoftware.com. You can also follow Adam's company on Twitter @FindMySoftware.

Adam and I talked about much more, so be sure to listen to the entire show, which you can do above, or download the mp3 and listen at your convenience. Of course, you can also subscribe to the Marketing Smarts podcast in iTunes or via RSS and never miss an episode!

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Music credit: Noam Weinstein.