Lies, damned lies, and sales and marketing statistics

  Written by Louis Gudema

Many numerals

“There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” – Disraeli, as quoted by Mark Twain

These are all statistics about sales and marketing that I’ve run across recently. I think that they’re pretty much useless…

  • Inbound marketing practices produce 54% more leads than traditional outbound practices.
  • It takes an average of five contacts to close a deal, but the average sales person stops after two
  • B2B buyers don’t engage with a sales person until they’re 70% through their buyer’s journey
  • People who buy products marketed through email spend 138% more than people that do not receive email offers
  • Short tweets get more engagement than tweets over 100 characters.
  • The “sweet spot” for tweet length is 120 characters
  • The best time to tweet is 1-3 PM
  • Companies implementing real-time marketing have a 26% increase in conversion rates on average
  • Best times to post to LinkedIn are before 9 AM and just after 5 PM; worst times are 9AM to 5PM
  • Best times to post to LinkedIn are around noon and just after 5PM
  • Marketers who publish more than 15 blog posts per month average 1,200 leads per month.

Let’s look at just the first few of these:

  • Some smaller consultancies get almost all of their leads from referrals and inbound. But I know many mid-sized and larger companies with ramped up inbound programs in which qualified leads generated by outbound marketing – and cold calling, gasp! – far exceed those from inbound marketing. In all cases leads from inbound are considered higher quality and more likely to close, though.
  • In most of my deals it’s taken far more than five contacts – it’s sometimes taken 20-30 or more. In some businesses, even 20-30 would be a low number. In retail, though, the average might be one.
  • Even SiriusDecisions, one of the companies that has talked about the significant changes in the B2B buyer’s journey, says that to state that B2B buyers are 70% through the sales process before talking to a sales rep is a misinterpretation of their research.

And so on.

We may be in the era of data, but that doesn’t mean that the data, and conclusions made from the data, are portable. What’s true for one industry, company, or product, even, won’t be true for another. (The best time to tweet to an audience of doctors may be the evening, because caregivers aren’t typically online during the day at work. But people working in healthcare management and administration may be online during the day.)

cartoon on extrapolating

So you may be able to use some of these stats as very general guidelines – inbound marketing can produce lots of high quality leads when done well, don’t give up on a sale too early, there may be a best time to post to social media for your audience – but don’t assume that they’re applicable to your situation.

Do your own research, generate your own data, and come to your own conclusions.

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