Successful lead generation is not a short-term strategy or solution. To deliver a strong ROI, lead generation relies on a consistent, ongoing programme over many months and years. This time-frame allows for momentum to be built and a strong sales pipeline to be created. Once you start to see leads converting to sales, lead generation will becomes an integral part of your ongoing sales strategy.
So how long should a lead generation campaign be run for, before you can measure its effectiveness?
Sales cycles vary dramatically and so the answer to this question will be dictated by the length of your sales cycle. In our recent B2B Sales report – Australian Trends & Outlook, we found that in 47% of cases the sales cycle was less than 3 months – but this tends to apply to prospects who have reached out to you and who know they have a need for your product or service. 26% of businesses experience a sales cycle of over 6 months, while for others their sales cycles are 1 – 2 years, in some cases potential buyers won’t make a decision until years later.
However, you also need to consider that while a comprehensive lead generation programme will also approach those prospects who are looking for your product or service, the majority of prospects will not be at this point yet. Many will have not yet identified that they have a problem – they are just experiencing frustrations. Those that they do know they have a problem they are unlikely have done anything about this, or have started to identify who can help them solve their problem. In other words they are often at a very early stage in the buying cycle.
With prospects at so many different stages of the buying cycle, our advice would be to go into any outbound sales and marketing activity with the expectation that you can only truly measure its effectiveness after 12 months. Working with an experienced lead generation partner can ensure warm leads are quickly separated from those that are not interested. They should also nurture and develop relationships with prospects over time and only pass leads over to you when they are ready for a more detailed sales conversation.