Lead Flow Planning: How Many Leads Are Really Enough For Your Sales Team?

Posted on by Chief Marketer Staff

When it comes to leads, it's tempting to think that more is better. But the truth is, enough is—well, enough. You don't want so few leads that the sales territories cannot comfortably fulfill their quotas, but you don't want so many that they cannot all be serviced. You want a number of leads that is just right.

Calculating Conversations
How do you arrive at that magic number? One way is to go to the source: the sales managers and reps. Ask them what their lead requirements are. Become informed by reading the sales plan. Learn how your company's compensation plan works so you can understand the sales managers' and reps' business and personal objectives. All this input is crucial to mapping your campaign strategies.

Through these conversations, you're likely to find that each rep wants a certain number of qualified leads per day, week or month. The reps may make specific requests by product category, industry, sales territory or whatever else is defining their quotas. Gather as many of these details as you can. Each one will help make this campaign a success for you and for themselves.

Just keep in mind that sales reps want what they want—and they can be unrealistic. If they say "give me everything," or "give me only leads that are ready to close this month," try this method instead.

Use the sales reps' sales quotas to back your way into the number of leads required by determining their sales productivity per lead. This approach gives you some validation in future conversations and is useful when dealing with reps who want the moon.

You need these numbers from sales and finance:

• The average revenue quota per rep.
• The average revenue per order.
• The percent of revenue that the sales people generate naturally, without the help of leads, repeat sales or deeper penetration within the account, as well as referrals. (You may have to ask around sales management and reps to come up with this figure.)

Here's a hypothetical example, where reps would need 150 qualified leads to make their quotas:

Process: Revenue quota per rep

Calculations: $3,000,000

% of quota self-generated: 40%
Quota requiring lead support ($3M x 1-.40): $1,800,000
Revenue per order: $60,000
Converting leads required ($1.8M/$60K): 30 leads
Conversion rate: 20%
Qualified leads required per rep (30/.20): 150 leads

Lead Flow Planning Quick Tips

A steady pace wins the race. Don't flood the sales teams, but don't make them suffer through droughts either. Aim for a steady stream of leads by month. Analyze past campaign results to note peaks and valleys, and schedule actions with short planning horizons, such as direct response print ads, banner ads or outbound telemarketing or email to smooth things out.

Show the same consideration for the resources in the middle of the process—your response handlers and qualifiers. An overload does not just strain them—it can annoy customers as well.

Plan for the unexpected. Don't be forced to scramble at the last minute when something out of the ordinary—such as a new product introduction or an end-of-fiscal sales push, suddenly occurs. In most companies, these special events happen with some frequency. Check with product management so you can plan lead requirements ahead.

Know when to play hard and fast. Hard offers, such as "have a sales rep call me," convert faster. Use them when you need a quick fix at the end of fiscal periods or can't spare the staff or financial resources to nurture a prospect poll.

Open up the circle. Include everyone in your planning process—sales people, call center or outsourced service, marketing department and finance—so they'll all feel a sense of ownership of the campaign. Be prepared to communicate often, explaining activities and restating benefits.

Ruth Stevens is a B-to-B marketing consultant specializing in customer acquisition and retention. This article is an excerpt from her new book "Maximizing Lead Generation: The Complete Guide for B2B Marketers."


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