Four Keys to Taming Your Lead Line

Rick Burnes
Rick Burnes



taming the line In our monthly marketing review meeting last week,  Prashant Kaw , HubSpot's leads guru, gave the room a good chuckle when he put the image on the right up on the screen.

It was funny because we all know Prashant, and we all know that that's exactly how he spends his days -- taming the line.

The line in question here is the monthly lead burndown chart -- and it can be a lion to tame. The burndown chart graphs the number of leads we need to get on a daily basis in order to meet our monthly lead goal. It's the red line in the image above.

Prashant has been very successful taming his line -- he's met every lead goal he's had! He says his success is attributable to four basic rules:

(1) Draw the Line - In other words, decide what to measure. Sounds basic, but a lot of people don't do it -- they look for "lead growth" or they shoot for "enough to keep the sales team busy." If you want to tame the line -- to create predictable lead flow -- you need to set clear monthly lead goals that everybody is aware of and accountable for.

(2) Measure the Line -- Once you have your goal, you need to collect your data. Whether you're using a  lead management system  or some sort of home-grown system, you should understand how you're doing on a daily basis, and track that against your historical performance. In addition to his burndown chart, Prashant uses a lead waterfall chart (below) that tracks our progress towards our goal, with the percent of the goal completed on the vertical axis, and the day of the month on the horizontal axis. Each line on the chart represents a different month.


(3) Move the Line -- Figure out what actions you can take to move the line. We do a lot of controlled experiments with new techniques and channels to see what kind of impact they have on lead flow. What type of content is moving the line in the short term? What type of content is driving the most SEO traffic in the long term? What type of paid campaigns are worth adding to the mix? To build a predictable lead flow, you need to test all of these things to figure out what the best levers are. (Of course, you can't focus exclusively on leads. We use our  closed-loop marketing  system to keep track of which campaigns are driving the most customers.)

(4) Revisit the Line -- Make sure you're constantly re-assessing your lead goal. If you're focused too much on achieving you monthly number, you could be missing fundamental changes in your business -- you could start signing up unprofitable customers, or sending your sales team leads they can't close. In the six months that I've been at HubSpot, we've changed our lead goals and definitions many times. Each time it's forced Prashant to rethink his line-taming work, but it's also strengthened the company and led to growth.

How do you tame your line? We'd love to hear your experiences in the comments below.

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