How long does it take to decide? Three key reasons why understanding your Sales Lead Time is crucial to the success of your small business.

 

Sales lead time and marketing

Let’s talk about sales lead time: What it means for small businesses? Why it's important for you to identify your sales lead time? How it affects your business and your marketing?

 

Simply stated a sales lead time is the amount of time that passes from the date you present a potential client with a price quote to the time she/he hires you.  I stated specifically a price quote and not an initial meeting, as sometimes a further, more involved sales meeting is needed to identify the potential’s business needs and you may only issue a quote following this second and more serious meeting.

 

Determine lead time

How can you determine sales lead time?  Begin by reviewing the dates of each of your price quotes and calculate how long it takes – on average - for potential clients to hire you.  Do they make a decision within a day?  A week? A month?  Is there a 'clarification period' where you may need to answer more questions, provide more information or clarifications or even have additional business meetings?

 

Target markets and different sales lead times

Once you have provided a certain number of price quotes to various target markets you can also determine which types of clients decide quickly or, conversely, slowly.  This data holds true whether you have a B2B (business-to-business) business or a B2C (business-to-customer) business.  Do one-person businesses make decisions quickly?  Do start-ups come to a decision slowly?  Do businesses owned by married couples make decisions only after the first of the month and so on.  Do businesses owned by divorced people make decisions on the spur of the moment?  As always identifying and understanding your target markets are key to understanding their specific sales lead times.

 

Three reasons why sales lead time is important to you

Why is it important for you, as a small business owner, to determine sales lead time?  Here are the three main reasons:

 

1. ROI  (Return on Investment)  While for many small businesses any client is a good client – understanding your sales lead time and the average amount of time you work on a given project for a given target market can give you a good indication as to the value of this client in money terms; as well as understanding how much effort you should invest in finding, marketing and wooing this type of client.  If it takes a very large marketing investment in time and money to obtain a client that only works with you for a short period of time, it may not be worth the investment, as your resources as a small business owner are limited to begin with.

 

2. Availability  As a small business owner you can only service a finite number of clients.  Knowing sales lead time for a given target market enables you – to a certain degree – to calculate your availability to this market once a sale is made.  For example: if you have calculated that mothers with young children take an average of three months to hire you from the time of the price quote - you can assess your present work load, review the number of price quotes still open and calculate whether you will have the resources to provide your services to this target market following this three-month lead time.

 

3. Income flow  Understanding your sales lead time, as well as the duration of your average project can give you important insight into your cash flow forecast.   If your potential clients take months to decide and only work with you on a one-time or short-term project basis you know you must market continuously to the widest possible audience to bring in as many leads as possible.  On the other hand, if your potentials decide quickly and work with you on long-term projects, your marketing efforts can be more limited as you need to reserve your resources to serve and maintain these clients.

 

As your business grows, identifying and calculating sales lead times will become more observable and more accurate.  The information regarding your sales lead time is an important tool in planning both your financial and marketing efforts.  Contact us today to help you calculate your sales lead times and design a marketing plan suited to your business needs.

 

Do you want to open yourself to a more successful business?  Are you lost in the social media jungle? Let me help you re-energize your business and rediscover your passion in your profession.  We’ll work together to improve your marketing strategy and online exposure and find the perfect target markets for your business. Contact me today to schedule a free introductory meeting. 

 

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