MarketingSherpa recently posted some data from their research on B2B lead conversion rates. This is important data for a couple of reasons.
1. We see most marketing departments tracking conversion strictly from new leads to sales. In reality, leads should pass through multiple stages, and conversion rates at each stage should be tracked to measure the effectiveness of marketing and pre-sales activities.
2. Marketing and sales both need to understand that there are lengthy time spans for new inquiries as they progress from initial lead generation to qualified sales prospects. If leads are not nurtured during this process, conversion rates will drop precipitously and qualified leads that will eventually buy a product/service like yours will fall out of your pipeline before they’re ready to buy.
Here is a quote from MarketingSherpa clarifying this point:
“When prospects first enter the pipeline, they may be months away from defining specifications, a budget or purchase timeline. It is marketing’s responsibility to identify and fulfill the information needs of prospects at each stage and to advance prospects through the pipeline to a sales-ready stage as rapidly as possible.”
The one issue I have with this chart and the article on the MarketingSherpa site is that it does not discuss the source of the inquiries. Marketers should expect to see a substantial difference in inquiry to sales-ready lead conversion rates based on the source, quality, and freshness of the original leads. Given the high conversion rate in the first stage, I suspect that this table only considers inquiries where the lead contacted the company on a “contact us form” or called a general number asking for information about the firms’ products/services. Leads generated from trade shows or webinars may not have as high a conversion rate.
Also, this chart makes no mention of the time required for conversion or whether the leads were nurtured during that process. Again, based on the results MarketingSherpa published, I’d expect that these leads have been carefully and consistently nurtured, that the inside or field sales team then worked the leads that bubbled up to convert them, and that the time range for conversion from stage one to stage two allowed at least 12 months for the leads to mature. I submitted an inquiry to MarketingSherpa to get more details, and if their analyst responds, I will be happy to share the response.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Feel free to comment below or email me at cedelen (at) propelgrowth (dot) com.
For more on the subject:
- Read the blog post, “B2B Lead Conversion Rates — Tracking The Right KPIs.”