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Nov 28, 2007
How To

How to Use Customer Surveys to Track Leads - 5 Tactics to Keep Them From Getting Lost

SUMMARY: Getting feedback on leads passed onto a sales team often frustrates marketers who generate them. What happened? Did any leads turn into new business?

Find out what a company that develops lead-management systems for manufacturers did to create a continual link between sales and marketing teams. Includes five steps to create a lead-surveying program that works.
Lead-generation marketers share a common source of frustration: Trying to get feedback on the leads they pass along to the sales team. How many of those leads turned into closed deals? What happened to the ones that didn’t pan out? Can any be brought back for further nurturing?

Closing the loop between marketing and sales is always tricky. It’s even harder when you’re managing leads for companies that sell through distributors and dealers.

“It’s tough to get salespeople to report back when they work for you, much less when the sales force is made up of independent businesses,” says Jennifer Jurgens, VP Client Services, MarketNet Services, which develops lead-management systems for manufacturers. “They have this inner fear that the manufacturer is going to cut them out of the picture and go with direct sales, so they don’t want to give you any feedback whatsoever.”

Jurgens turned to a simple strategy to gather the data she needed on lead performance: a customer-satisfaction survey program that follows up with all leads piped into the sales channels. The survey asked customers about their experience, if they purchased a product and, if not, why a deal couldn’t be struck.

The data has helped clients develop clear metrics on which marketing programs are most successful. Even better, the surveys reheat cold leads and nurture them for future opportunities.

Jurgens outlines the survey tactics she employs, which marketers can adapt for their own sales teams. Here are her five tactics:

-> Tactic #1. Ask questions that elicit standard responses for annual comparison.

Jurgens’ team spent a lot of time planning the questions they asked in their surveys. They wanted to ask each prospect the same questions in every situation to deliver apples-to-apples comparisons for each campaign. “When you ask the same questions year after year, you can develop wonderful trend data.”

Jurgens limited surveys to 10-15 questions so they weren’t too time-consuming or overwhelming. To cull a list, she recommends scrutinizing each potential question to determine if it can get an actionable answer: information that marketers can use to measure and improve campaign performance.

Here are examples of questions used in her surveys, with the action or measurement the answers support:

- Did you purchase a product?
Answers feed sales extrapolations.

- What did you purchase? (Options were offered in drop-down menus).
Answers trigger follow-up marketing for complementary products.

- If you didn’t buy, were you unsatisfied by the sales experience or likely to buy in the future?
Response triggers appropriate responses, such as a call from a telemarketing representative to learn more about potential problems the prospect experienced or further marketing contacts to nurture the lead (more on that process below).

- Would you use that distributor/sales agent again or recommend that outlet to colleagues?
These answers create a net promoter score for dealers. The scores help manufacturers rank their dealers and compare different dealers to the brand itself.

- What is your industry/company size, etc.?
Demographic data helps create client profiles for future marketing and determines if the leads generated were from the marketing targets.

-> Tactic #2. Send invitations according to purchasing timelines.

Jurgens and her team initially began surveying all prospects 30 days after passing a lead along to the sales channel. They realized they were jumping the gun; many leads weren’t ready to buy that quickly.

Instead, they turned to the purchase timeframe data they collect in their lead-scoring process to trigger survey invitations. Every lead generation campaign asks prospects to indicate when they intend to make a purchase (within three months, six months, 12 months, etc.).

An automatic filter in the lead-management system would then segment prospects according to purchasing timeframe. An email indicating which leads were ready to be surveyed about their buying decision would go each week to a member of Jurgens’ team. Leads that did not provide a timeframe would automatically receive a survey invitation in 30 days.

The email invitation survey reminded prospects of the marketing campaign they responded to and their stated timeframe for a potential purchase. The invitation included a hotlink to an online survey form, which asked prospects about the manufacturers’ customer service. (See creative samples below for an example of a survey invitation.)

-> Tactic #3. Boost response rate with incentives, pre-filled survey forms and reminder emails.

Survey response rates average between 3% and 10%. Jurgens’ team developed several techniques to increase participation:

- Each prospect received a $5 gift certificate to thank them for completing the survey. Prospects redeemed the gift using a special online code so the team didn’t have to worry about fulfillment.

When they tested the incentive offer, they found the gift boosted response rates 2%-3%.

- The team chose an online survey tool that allowed them to pre-populate the registration form with the prospects’ contact and company information, which they had collected during previous lead-generation campaigns. Users who clicked the survey link needed to verify only their personal information and click a button to get started.

- Prospects who had not filled out the survey one week after receiving the initial invitation got an automatic reminder email; it asked them again to answer questions that would help improve customer service. The reminder email averaged a 97.5% higher response rate than the initial invitation.

-> Tactic #4. Base marketing follow-up on survey response data.

Specific questions about a prospect’s purchasing decision (or lack of a purchase) triggered different marketing responses:

- Prospects who said they didn’t buy, had not heard from a manufacturers’ representative or were unsatisfied with the representative’s response received a call from Jurgens’ telemarketing team.

A telemarketer would interview the prospect to learn what part of the process they found unsatisfying, and then route the information back to the manufacturer for further follow-up.

- Prospects who said they didn’t buy but were likely to buy soon were immediately refreshed as leads and put back into the manufacturer’s sales pipeline. The appropriate sales entity received an email noting a prospect’s interest with a hotlink to the lead’s details in the CRM system.

“We kind of knock them over the head with the email, saying “Hey, call these people.”

- Prospects who said they didn’t buy and indicated they were still evaluating products or services were placed back into a lead nurturing program.

Depending on the manufacturer’s preference, that nurturing process included offers for:
o Industry-vertical focused catalogs
o Additional white papers
o Product specification sheets or other PDF downloads

-> Tactic #5. Analyze and report survey results.

Survey responses helped Jurgens’ generate sales and marketing reports for manufacturers. Each week, the team downloaded online survey responses and analyzed the data to develop metrics for several key performance indicators.

For example, weekly reports could offer:
o Conversion rates per marketing touchpoint
o Average sale per marketing touchpoint
o Estimated total revenue generated by marketing touchpoint
o Amount of a customer’s purchase, to compare with dealers’ reports of purchase amount
o Tally of specific products or services purchased
o Sales by dealer
o Quarter-to-quarter comparisons of sales or conversion data

A dashboard built into Jurgens’ lead-generation systems allowed marketing executives to access data daily. Tabs in the dashboard provided access to specific metrics, such as conversion rates, average sales or estimated total sales. “That’s the first report that every marketing VP sees when they log in.”

Jurgens continually tweaks the survey program, but she says the effort has closed the loop between lead-generation campaigns and direct-sales teams. “We’re very happy with overall theory. It solves a huge problem.”

Useful links related to this article

Creative samples from MarketNet Services:

Vovici - provides survey support:

MarketNet Services:

See Also:

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