Does your business spend time and money generating leads that languish neglected in a pipeline? "The industry wide statistic of 70% of leads never receiving effective sales follow-up is astounding," writes Maria Pergolino at Marketo. "With the mass amount of resources devoted to lead generation, the act of following up on leads has to be improved to experience growth in conversion rates."

To achieve maximum ROI on your lead-generation programs, she offers this three-point strategy:

Make contact as soon as possible. If you wait too long, leads might forget who you are—or, worse, assume you don't think they're worth your time. Pergolino recommends the assistance of automated software to efficiently score each lead. "[A]utomation targets prospects based on demographics, activity history and online behavioral triggers allowing your sales team to follow up on the highest-potential leads first, while allowing marketing to nurture the rest," she explains.

Keep in regular contact with leads. Don't send an email, however, unless it has content they'll consider relevant. "Send pertinent messages related to where your prospect is in the buying cycle," she says, "[and offer] information to help move them from one stage to the next."

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