If you’re looking to comprehend what lead time is and how to improve it, you’re in for a treat! We’ll cover every possible angle.
Here at eLearning Industry, we’ve witnessed the power of agile marketing and how it helps us move faster. While it supports our team in eliminating wasted time and resources, it is also a great tool to create a sustainable pace for all team members. Everything starts rolling smoothly when the team meets customer demand. Timely.
Do you want the same for your marketing team? Then, you need to have a process that serves your customer. That means customers (and prospects) should be the center of your process metrics. When it comes to success metrics, you can determine quality and impact by focusing on customer feedback.
Also, to define efficiency and productivity, you’ll need to know whether your teams can respond to customer demand at the expected pace. Here’s why lead time is essential. And, as we all know, speed is the hallmark of all tremendous agile teams!
But, when you shift your focus to the customer, everything gets much more complicated.
As you can understand, just tracking how fast stuff gets done is not a solution. If you want a high-performing agile team, you must keep a close eye on lead time.
Let’s analyze what lead time is and how it can help boost your conversions, revenue, and how clients perceive your service.
What Is Lead Time And How To Track It?
To put it simply, lead time is how much time it takes from the moment a customer requests something to when your team delivers it. So, basically, lead time is the time that elapses from the moment of the request to the whole process of delivering a service or a product. Lead time is a clear indicator of an execution team’s efficiency. In fact, it’s one of the fundamental lean metrics you should be tracking.
Although lead time might seem simple on the surface, it’s a lot more complex than you might think. It’s an indication of how much time it takes to initiate, process, and deliver value to the customer. Hence, a lower lead time means higher efficiency for your team. When looking at it from a team’s point of view, it’s all about analyzing the available time to start the process and deliver the request by doing the respective work.
However, marketing departments find it hard to define lead time because it’s difficult to define the exact moment when the lead time starts and when it stops. This has mainly to do with the fact that your marketing team’s tasks are not necessarily triggered by a customer’s distinct order.
Instead, marketers typically begin tracking lead time when the team’s marketing leader approves a work item from the backlog for processing. In many marketing teams, the starting point of lead time is when the respective task moves from the upcoming list to the do list; this counts per task basis.
The accumulation of lead time ends when the work item has passed through all of the workflow stages and reaches completion. Time tracking and project management tools can do miracles when it comes to defining lead time!
Why Is Lead Time So Important To Marketing And Sales Teams?
As we’ve said, lead time is the duration from the beginning of a process to its execution. If you manage a team, you probably already know that many factors contribute to a successful conversion rate. Thus, tracking and reducing this rate is essential if you do want to reach your goals.
A shorter lead time can reduce overall costs, streamline operations, and improve productivity, not only for your team but also for the entire operation. So, tracking the time it takes to convert prospects into customers is vital. It’s not just about having a pipeline full of leads but also about ensuring what happens with those leads.
It’s sad—but true—that more leads don’t always naturally lead to more revenue. But isn’t more revenue your company’s ultimate goal? Well, yes, increasing sales is always good. However, securing that leads actually turn into customers should be your top priority. Thus, you must know exactly how long that conversion takes.
So, how can you effectively track lead time in your sales pipeline?
Your marketing and sales pipeline gives you an overview of all the prospects your team is currently targeting. But do you know how much time your teams spend to convert a lead into a customer? This information is critical to figure out if your pipeline is healthy. Thus, you’ll need metrics on your sales cycle. Or at least the anticipated lead time to close a deal.
Let’s consider this as a sales forecast, where you estimate how many deals are likely to close in a particular period. Having such a forecast will help you make adequate adjustments to the pipeline or your marketing and sales strategy.
Leaders in CRM and sales know that lead time is critical in determining how many leads a healthy sales pipeline should have.
The Connection Between Lead Time And Your Product Marketing Assets
Lead time helps categorize prospects. When you know your typical sales cycle, you can then ask the right questions and see which customers don’t fit the mold.
Remember that lead time can’t be rushed too much. So, it’s crucial to refine your process to eliminate unnecessary steps. Plus, this will eventually help you keep the momentum going! You wouldn’t want to prevent hot leads from fizzling out in your pipeline, right?
Just keep in mind that sometimes, pushing too fast might make a good lead flee instead of becoming a valuable customer. For example, maybe a prospect downloaded a free ebook from your amazing website. If you hunt the prospect down with numerous emails and a phone call within the next hour, things will not turn out well…
Sometimes, having a prospect lingering long at one stage might make it less likely that they are going to advance through your pipeline. Yet, other times, maybe they haven’t converted because of legal processes or because they need buy-in from the c-suite. Hence, you always need to make a judgment call and decide when it makes sense to continue actively working with certain prospects.
The takeaway is that you should respect a reasonable lead time. To do so, try to build a genuine relationship with your prospects. It’s a far better strategy than pushing to hit an agreed target. You can do so with lead nurturing.
Of course, lead scoring is important to understand where your leads are in their buyer’s journey. Only then you’ll figure out when it’s the right time to offer them a deal they cannot resist!
Lead time doesn’t stop with the sale. Sure, when you close a deal, a new relationship opens that needs just as much, if not more, careful nurturing. You have to understand that the customer lifecycle has its own lead-time rhythm. Thus, one of your primary goals should be to grow a one-time customer into a devoted advocate for your brand.
The same happens with any lead that enters your CRM. No one is ever going to buy your product or service right away. You have to establish trust and convince them that your brand is the best solution!
For business growth, connecting marketing, sales, and customer service is crucial. Such an integrated partnership helps build a stronger foundation for customers. Plus, it gives them the attention they need. First off, you must pinpoint the right balance between outstanding service on the purchase and after. Then, you can identify opportunities for up-selling or cross-selling. Keep building trust so that the customer becomes a true advocate of your eLearning brand.
Lead time is much more complicated than customer conversion time. Hence, understanding this metric will empower you to make revenue predictions. Plus, it will improve the way you nurture customer relationships.
So, make sure to understand the lead time and