B2B Sales Leads

Six Tips to Calculate How Many Leads You Need in Your Sales Pipeline

I have had more than a few people accuse me of being obsessed with marketing numbers (guilty as charged). One of my chief focuses has always been the production of high-quality B2B sales leads. Of course, there are many flavors of leads and one person’s definition of sales-ready is another’s definition of a substandard lead. Regardless, to make revenue growth numbers, leads must be generated with sufficient quality and quantity.

I wrote an article a couple of years ago that is consistently one of the most visited pages on our website:  Just How Many Sales Leads Do You Need? In my opinion, the article is popular for two reasons. First, because many sales and marketing executives do not know how many leads then need. Second, because the article contains an easy-to-use formula to calculate your B2B sales lead requirements.

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If you are unsure about your own lead requirements, please visit the article and run the numbers. Be prepared for a surprise because before going through the calculation exercise, many otherwise sharp marketing and sales professionals wildly miss the mark on their lead requirements.

When putting together your sales lead numbers, keep a few tips in mind:

  1. Do not exaggerate what you can do. In the excitement of the planning session, you may be tempted to pledge to generate more leads than is practical or even possible. Don’t do this! Better to under promise and over deliver.
  1. Document the numbers in a service level agreement (SLA). Numbers written on a whiteboard are not sufficient. You need to codify what you agree to with your sales counterparts and share this document with key executives – especially the CEO and CFO. Read here for more information on what is contained in an SLA.
  1. Make sure the sales department has skin in the game. If you are on the marketing side, don’t fall into the trap of assuming responsibility for all the deliverables. You are in this together and the sales function is just as important to a workable revenue growth plan as the marketing function. To produce the best results, you need a team of equals.
  1. Too many leads can be a problem. Sales managers usually don’t complain about having too many sales leads but in fact, this can be an issue. A flood of leads could mean that otherwise qualified leads fall through the cracks and are not contacted. Also, sales reps can get discouraged when they spend quality selling time on unqualified prospects. Better to ration leads to make sure there is maximum efficiency at every part of the process.
  1. Have a viable reporting mechanism. All your solid efforts will be for naught if you cannot quickly and efficiently report on results. Make sure you capture the most important B2B sales and marketing metrics and, if possible, present them in a dashboard format.
  1. Don’t be a “gloater” or “gloatee.” Yes I made the second word up. If you are the marketing leader and fail to make your numbers – while your counterpart in sales makes his/her numbers – do not be intimidated or play the victim. Likewise, if your department outperforms sales, do everything you can to help them make their numbers next time. As I stated above, you are in this together.

Finally, sometimes it is best to bounce your challenges and objectives off a trusted expert who can help you determine credible numbers and the best strategy. Please contact me if I can help you in any way.

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Christopher Ryan

Christopher Ryan has 25 years of marketing, technology, and senior management experience. As both a marketing executive and services provider, Chris has created and executed numerous programs that build market awareness, drive lead generation and increase revenue.
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