The Gulf Between IT Firms and Their Online Channels

Much bloviation has flown around how a strategically targeted Web site, and, more recently, how the use of a blog, can drive traditional sales growth to new levels. And a host of Web-enabling products are on offer to propel such strategies into motion.

But even the best and the brightest in IT have yet to “harvest” online sales leads to levels commensurate with traditionally generated leads, according to a new research study to be published by Wendover Consulting.

In conducting the study, Wendover solicited the top 490 IT firms in the world via email, posing as a C-level (CMO or CIO) executive from a company “interested in making a $1 million purchase in the next six to nine months” according to Wendover’s Chief Executive, Lawrence Dillon. The contacted companies ranged in annual sales from $50 million to $80 billion. The emails requested a response in the form of phone call from a sales executive.

Out of the 490 companies contacted, only 201 (41 percent) responded at all, and of those responses only 167 responded in the form of a phone call as requested. The remaining 34 emailed a response. Ten percent of the solicitations were bounced back due to server errors processing submission forms.

“Aside from the dismal overall response rate, I was shocked by the 10 percent figure,” Dillon said. “If Internet marketers are really interested in getting B2B sales from medium- to high-ticket companies, they will have to find a new function between sales and marketing that most likely can only be implemented at the vice president level.”

These findings serve as an online corollary to a new report Wendover collaborated on with the CMO Council, entitled “Gauging the Cost of What’s Lost.” The report focuses on sales “harvested” through traditional channels. The report concludes that “companies are investing a significant percentage of their revenues in activities directed at business lead generation and closure, but most do not optimize those investments by developing formal processes for qualifying, certifying and validating news business opportunities.”

The CMO Council’s founder and Executive Director, Donovan Neale-May, said Wendover’s survey of leading IT firms illustrates a specifically online example of the gulf between sales and marketing.

“What we’re seeing is a high predisposition for disconnect between senior management of prominent IT companies and their online channels for harvesting business leads,” Neale-May said. “Clearly they haven’t embraced the right solution.”

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