lead velocity nov 2016.pngThe importance of lead velocity to B2B marketing is widely understood. However, discussions on the topic, and more importantly, how to increase velocity, often take a back seat to the flashier aspects of demand marketing, such as account-based marketing.

This isn’t surprising. After all, when we speak of lead velocity, we’re simply referring to how quickly marketing leads convert through the various stages of the customer acquisition funnel.

Yet ignoring slowed velocity and funnel blockages can lead to potentially severe marketing problems:

  • Unengaged prospects
  • Wasted media budget
  • Negative customer experiences
  • Uneven lead pacing
  • Stalled pipeline growth
  • Sales-marketing misalignment
  • Lost customers and decreased marketing-attributed revenue

Moreover, lead velocity is affected by so many B2B marketing efforts that is should be used as a primary gauge for your demand marketing health.

Here are just a few areas of B2B marketing that, if not up to par, will likely reduce velocity at various stages of the funnel; and if untreated, can result in even bigger problems down the road.

Common causes of slow lead velocity

1. Undefined objectives – Customer acquisition is a relay race with many legs spanning numerous marketing teams and departments. If these various teams and roles can’t agree on lead definitions, scores and when they should be handed off between teams, velocity slows dramatically.

Solution tactic – Focus on frequent communication. In my experience, two tactics help achieve this: (1) Weekly sales-marketing-customer success calls to review pipeline and program data, and (2) marketing regularly jumping on sales calls with prospects.

2. Decentralized lead sources and unstandardized lead data – Lead vendors, website and various landing pages for inbound leads, third-party prospect data providers, events, webinars, etc. are all used by demand marketers to acquire lead info. This diversification is great except for when the time comes to consolidate and inject data into your customer database. This is often a manual, time-consuming process.

Left decentralized, it’s not uncommon for time between initial lead capture and upload to marketing automation or CRM system to extend longer than ten days. That’s long enough for leads to lose interest or engage with a competitor.

Solution tactic – The key here is unifying diverse lead sources into a single location where lead data can be gathered and formatting far quicker. This first requires an understanding of where and how lead data sources converge. You’ll then be able to focus on creating data formatting standards and streamlined workflows to get leads into nurture tracks in a timely manner, which then results in higher conversion rates and faster lead velocity.

Unstandardized, manual processes – Processes left unstandardized result in many redundant, manual efforts. For example, think of all the manual steps involved with getting your third-party-generated leads ready for importation into marketing automation systems:

  • Cleansing for fake info
  • Deduplicating
  • Scrubbing leads that fall short of targeting criteria
  • Checking for accurate ranges and completeness
  • Returning bad leads to partners
  • Formatting lead files so they’re consistent with database requirements

Moreover, most demand generation marketers still have unique processes for each lead vendor they work with, which backs up the processes even further.

Solution tactic – Unifying systems that capture, cleanse, refine, leverage and analyze customer data eliminates a ton of manual processes that waste resources, hurt customer experience and prevent growth. Most marketers have integrations between their marketing automation and CRM systems, but these technologies are often still disconnected from top-funnel lead sources, which allows them to remain procedurally dissimilar.

Ensuring a smooth, automated flow of data all the way up to the top of the funnel eliminates bottlenecks that slow velocity and allow prospect interest to wane (i.e., bad customer experience).

Lead velocity is a critical metric for all B2B marketers. By understanding its impact and, most importantly, how to improve it, you can make a material difference on marketing’s contribution to customer growth and revenue.