The One Graph Marketers Should Update Daily: The Leads Waterfall

    by Mike Volpe

    Date

    March 7, 2012 at 6:00 PM

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    Being able to provide the right number of quality leads to your sales team on a consistent basis is one of the essential responsibilities of a marketing team. But without the right tools in place, you can have wild variations in the number of leads you generate, and at the end of a month or quarter, you can end up way ahead or (more likely) way behind your goal.

    Using a daily leads waterfall graph is a great way to ensure that you hit your leads goals and never fall far behind the pace you need to stay afloat. The video at the end of the article explains this whole process in 4 minutes. (Or ... if you are a HubSpot customer, our marketing software makes this graph for you automatically. Just scroll down for a screenshot.)

    How to Build a Daily Leads Waterfall Graph

    Step 1: Decide what to measure. Start by working with your sales team to agree on a definition of what a true "lead" is, when a lead can be handed off from Marketing to Sales, and what leads "count" toward the goal. To help you get a handle on this, check out the following three posts on 1) sales and marketing alignment, 2) how to identify marketing qualified leads, and 3) how to prioritize and score leads for Sales.

    Step 2: Set a goal for the total number of leads. It might be a month or a quarter, but start with your sales goals and your conversion rates. For instance, if 5% of your leads become customers and you need 7 new customers next month, then you need 140 leads next month to hit your goal.

    Step 3: Set a daily leads goal. Starting with the total number of leads (in this case, 140), divide by the number of sales reps you have and the number of days in the month to identify a goal for the number of leads you need to provide each sales rep with each day. This is a great number to share with your sales reps so they have a clear and realistic idea of what to expect from marketing.

    Step 4: Create the daily leads waterfall graph. You can use this handy Excel template I made, and then update the chart every day. Use this graph to plot your progress on a daily basis; don’t just measure yourself at the end of the month or quarter. In addition, share this with your marketing team on a regular basis so everyone is up-to-date on the team's progress and how effectively they're reaching their goals.

    daily leads waterfall resized 600

    Understanding what you see in the graph above: The x-axis (horizontal) is the day of the month, and the y-axis (vertical) is the percentage of the leads goal you have attained. The black line in the middle is the path you should aim to follow for a perfectly even flow of leads to the sales team. In this case, the actual lead flow is the orange line, and it is below the perfectly balanced flow. Read on to diagnose what being above or below the black line means.

    How to Use the Daily Leads Waterfall Graph

    If Your Lead Flow Is Below the Black Line: Unfortunately, this means you're not on track to hit the leads goal, and you are at risk of letting the sales team down. What to do? It’s time to invest in some extra work. Try to come up with additional marketing offers, create more content on your blog, step up your social media engagement, and generally, increase the inbound marketing you do. To stay safe at all times, you may find it helpful to always have back-up content you can use in case of an emergency. In addition to pumping up the inbound marketing, you can also keep a reserve of cash around to give a boost to some of your pay-per-click campaigns or supplement your inbound marketing efforts with some emergency outbound marketing when you're falling behind the leads goal.

    If Your Lead Flow Is Above the Black Line:  Congratulations -- you're ahead of the game!  This gives you an opportunity to start planning more for the future. Maybe you can push some of your planned activity for this month off into next month. For example, maybe you hold off on publishing that blog article right away and instead schedule it to be published a few weeks in the future. This is the time when you should be preparing for the future when things might not be turning out so bright and you've fallen below the black line.

    HubSpot Software Creates a Lead and Visitor Waterfall Automatically

    For those of you who are customers using the HubSpot software, you're in luck! Your HubSpot dashboard will create this graph for you automatically using either a custom goal that you can set, the last month, the month 12 months ago, or a 3-month average as the goal you track against.

    hubspot dashboard waterfall resized 600

    Do you track your lead flow daily? What techniques do you use to make sure you support the sales team properly?

    Image Credit: Saad Faruque

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