Digital-media advertising is now bigger than national-TV advertising and is expected to exceed total TV advertising spending by 2018. This shift to digital is driving an unprecedented number of customers to websites and landing pages. This is also creating new problems and bigger opportunities for entrepreneurs that can figure out how to effectively respond to these prospects.

Related: Turn Your Website Into a Lead-Generating Machine

How big is the opportunity? Well, have you ever reached out to a business’s website, filled out a form showing interest only to be completely ignored? Of course you have. In fact, 65 percent of all companies admit that they have no process to nurture leads.

I recently created a mystery-shop campaign to show companies just how big this problem and opportunity is. Three companies with three completely different products hired me to evaluate their website response and sales teams.

One was a luxury jewelry store, another a large group of automotive dealerships, and the third was a service company. The automobile dealership sent an automated response to the lead and the other two companies still had not responded after three days.

Having looked into this follow-up problem, I can tell you it is massive. Did you know 44 percent of all sales people give up after one follow-up call? Who allows this to happen? Companies that nurture leads have 47 percent higher profit margins than companies that do not. This means prospects put the value on quick response, not on lowest price.

Smaller businesses and solo entrepreneurs often point the finger to limited infrastructure to handle follow up, but the reality is if you are a small-business owner, this is where you need to invest. I know what it’s like to be a one-man show because I was one for too many years. But in order to survive, I made sure I followed up fast and over long periods of time.

Why do salespeople and companies fail to follow up? My company surveyed over 800 sales people and 500 businesses that said they don’t follow up because there are too many leads, leads are cold by the time they get to them, and there’s no organized process for follow up.

The reality is there is no commitment to follow up. The culture of your company has made it OK not to follow up. Now, in defense of the sales team, if your salespeople don’t know how to effectively follow up, what to say, how to text, when to email, when to call, when to offer more information or simple things like how to get the lead on the phone, then how can you even make a second call, much less the five to 12 calls necessary to convert the Internet lead to a purchase? 

Related: The 3 Critical Elements to Selling Online Like a Pro

This problem is your opportunity and I know how to make it your new best friend. Follow these three steps:

1. Share the facts about lead response and follow up with your team:

  • Average response time for an Internet lead is 44 hours.
  • 65 percent of all companies don’t nurture the lead.
  • Only 25 percent of all salespeople make two contact attempts.
  • It requires eight follow up attempts just to qualify the lead.
  • 80 percent of all transactions require five to 12 follow-ups.
  • If you include texting in your response, you increase your conversion rate by 40 percent. When effectively used, texting can improve conversion by over 100 percent. 

2. Make a commitment to follow up at your company. This is about your culture and can only be the decision of executive management. 

3. Give your staff a very precise schedule and actions for each follow up attempt using a variety of means. A schedule might look like this:

  1. Automated response within five minutes. “Thank you. Someone will be right with you.”
  2. Text message or email (text preferred) response with information overload and terms guarantee.
  3. A same-day call from quality service.
  4. Same-day email message. “Please call me immediately regarding your interest. I have a way for you to take advantage of great savings.”
  5. The management call. “What can we do to earn your business?”

If you still fail to convert the lead, you must create an exact follow-up process from day two through the next 12 months. Don’t just write it off.

Stop struggling. Take advantage of this opportunity to differentiate yourself in today’s market. Create a solid follow-up system and make it part of your culture. Follow up or die out.

Related: 5 Strategies for Improving Calls and Increasing Sales