16 November 2021

How many leads you need to hit your revenue targets?

Pete Jakob
Written by Pete Jakob

Pete is UK Marketing Director for The Marketing Centre and specialises in marketing systems, data and processes for small and mid-size businesses. He has over 35 years’ experience working in technology and a variety of other sectors.

Welcome to the second article in our series on lead generation: Lead Gen in 10. The premise is simple. Quickfire, practical, hands-on exercises that will improve every aspect of your lead generation process.

We kicked things off by showing you how to define a qualified lead for your business. Next up, we’re going to show how many leads you’ll need to hit your financial targets.

Why is this so important? By working backwards from your sales targets, you can work out how much marketing you’ll need to reach your goals. And it will help you understand your conversion rates at each stage of the buyer journey.

Measuring and improving your conversion rates of the leads you have is infinitely more cost-effective than just adding more and more leads to an inefficient pipeline.

Ready to get started?

What you’ll need: Your financial targets for the next 12 months as well as sales data for the last 12 months (more on this later). You’ll also need a calculator or a spreadsheet you can use for number-crunching (here’s one that we have prepared that you can use).
Who you’ll need: Just yourself.


Want 4 more exercises to improve your lead generation?
Our Lead Gen in 10 workbook will give you five useful exercises to improve every aspect of your lead generation.


Step 1 - Establish your new business objective and average deal value

How much new revenue do you want to generate over the next 12 months? It’s worth bearing in mind that we’re talking about revenue from new qualified leads, not repeat customers or cross-sells.

Once you have this figure, we need to work out how many sales you’ll need to close to hit this target.

To calculate this, divide your new customer revenue for the last financial year by the number of new sales closed over that period. This will give you your average deal value. Now divide your target revenue by your average deal value to see how many new customers you need to win.


Let’s imagine that our financial target for revenue from new customers this year is £250,000. Last year we closed 30 new sales with a total value of £200,000 giving us an average deal value of £6,667.

So in order to meet our target, we’re going to need to close at least 38 sales from new leads.

Keep in mind:
  • This is a transactional example. If we were working with recurring monthly service revenue, deals closed in January would be worth more in the calendar year than those won in December
  • We're deliberately looking exclusively at new revenue from new leads here. But each business is different and for many businesses it might be more important to focus on generating additional revenue from existing customers via cross-sell and retention activities. Feel free to use this exercise to set targets for cross-selling as well


Step 2 - Calculate your conversion rates

Every business has a slightly different buyer journey. But in general, for smaller businesses, the key stages to measure can be broken down as follows:
  1. Contact - a new contact that’s added to your CRM database
  2. Qualified Lead - a potential customer that marketing and sales agree they want to work with
  3. Customer - a paying customer


Check out the first piece in this series if you’re not sure:  how to define a lead for your business at different stages of the buyer journey.

Naturally, some contacts will become qualified leads and some won’t. Conversion rates tell you how many people at each stage progress onto the next.

By working backwards from a customer, to a qualified lead, to a contact, we can calculate the number of contacts we’ll need to generate in order to hit our sales target.


Last year we had 400 contacts. 100 of those were qualified as leads and 30 of those qualified leads became customers.

This gives us a contact-to-lead conversion rate of 25% and a lead-to-customer conversion rate of 30%.

Keep in mind:
  1. Conversion rates from different sources can vary wildly. For instance, conversions from customer referrals may be much higher than leads from outbound sources. They’re also more likely to close quickly.
  2. Get as granular as possible to see what can be done to improve your conversion rates for each marketing channel.


Step 3 - Estimate the number of contacts you need

This is the final stage in the process. We’re going to combine the targets from step one with the conversion rates from step two. This will tell us how many contacts we need to generate in order to hit our revenue target.


If we need to close 38 sales from new qualified leads to hit our target of £250,000 and we have a lead-to-customer conversion rate of 30%, we’re going to need to generate 125 new leads.

Which means that, based on our contact-to-lead conversion rate of 25%, we’ll need to work with 500 contacts.


Once you’ve calculated your lead generation targets and benchmarked your conversion rates, you’ll be able to track your performance against these metrics on a monthly or quarterly basis.

It’s worth sense checking whether this target is realistic given the market you’re operating in and the resources at your disposal. If not, it might be worth focusing on other areas that can boost revenue.


Good job!

You now know exactly how many leads you need to generate from your marketing to hit your targets.

This is the second exercise in our Lead Gen in 10 series. For more exercises to help you close more new business from your lead generation activity, check out the other exercises below:

Or click here to get the entire series in one handy workbook.


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