January 19, 2010

New Chart: The Long Road from B2B Lead Generation to Sales Conversion

SUMMARY: Marketers face lengthy time spans as they progress from lead generation to conversion, making it difficult to nurture prospects while moving them through the pipeline. This chart highlights the percentages of leads in each stage of the pipeline that are likely to advance to the next stage.
By Sergio Balegno, Senior Analyst

Average Conversion Rates in the Marketing-to-Sales Process

View Chart Online
Click here to see larger, printable version of this chart

One of the most challenging obstacles to marketing is the time span from lead generation to sales conversion. These long sales cycles put pressure on marketers to streamline the lead nurturing process.

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.

We wanted to know what percentages of leads in each stage of the pipeline are likely to advance to the next stage. As this chart shows, on average, nearly four in 10 leads move from initial inquiry to being sales-ready, and approximately the same ratio advance from sales-ready to qualified prospect. As might be expected, the trend deteriorates moving to the next stage where only three in 10 qualified prospects convert to a sale.

The internal sales force has an edge -- albeit slim -- over top channel partners in percent of distributed leads closed. An organization’s own sales force is also three times as likely to close leads distributed to them as are their average channel partners.

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