Sunday, August 4, 2013

An Inconvenient Truth About B2B Demand Generation

If you're a B2B marketer, describing the major attributes of your lead-to-revenue funnel and measuring the dynamics of your funnel are critical to understanding how well your demand generation system is performing. Funnel metrics will help provide the answers to three basic questions:
  • Volume - Are our marketing programs generating a sufficient number of raw leads (sometimes called responses or inquiries) to produce the revenues that marketing is responsible for?
  • Conversion - What percentage of leads are "converting" from each lead stage to the next across the entire lead-to-revenue cycle?
  • Velocity - How long is the overall revenue cycle? In other words, now much time does it take, on average, for an initial response or inquiry to result in a closed sale?
Many B2B companies use the Demand Waterfall model developed by SiriusDecisions to describe and measure the lead-to-revenue funnel. The graphic below shows the major stages in the Demand Waterfall and the conversion rates achieved by average B2B companies, according to SiriusDecisions. (Note:  SiriusDecisions recently revised the Demand Waterfall to add several lead stages, but the framework shown below is still widely used by B2B companies.)

Now for the inconvenient truth. Research strongly suggests that the demand generation system in many B2B companies is horribly inefficient. Based on the conversion rates identified by SiriusDecisions, the average B2B company needs to generate 351 inquires to acquire one new customer. That equates to an overall lead-to-revenue conversion rate of only 0.3% (4.4% x 66% x 49% x 20%).

Forrester Research has found similar levels of demand generation performance. According to Forrester, the average overall lead-to-revenue conversion rate is 0.75%. What makes this issue important is that your overall lead-to-revenue conversion rate has a big impact on your company's overall cost of sales, which obviously affects company profitability.
The good news is that companies can significantly improve the performance of their lead-to-revenue funnel. In addition to identifying the lead conversion rates achieved by the average B2B company, SiriusDecisions has also studied the conversion rates achieved by Best Practice companies, and their research shows that Best Practice companies perform substantially better across the board. The table below shows how the higher conversion rates achieved by Best Practice companies impact lead-to-revenue funnel performance.

As this table shows, Best Practice companies must generate only about 70 inquiries to acquire one new customer, while average firms need five times as many. Best Practice companies also achieve an overall lead-to-revenue conversion rate of 1.4%, which is about five times higher that the rate achieved by average firms.

The performance of your lead-to-revenue funnel will tell you a great deal about the effectiveness of your marketing and sales efforts. So, if you aren't currently using funnel metrics, now would be a good time to start.


  1. Thanks for this helpful post. I work with a client who uses the Sirius model and I was wondering if you could provide a reference for the tables.

    Thank you!

  2. Nice post...Yes please provide reference for the tables..Lead Generation

  3. I hope you don't mind but I've actually utilised some of these stats on a presentation! Really insightful and straight to the point. Another interesting note is

    It's great for further improving your conversion rates by identifying companies who have abandoned your website so you can contact again.