All posts by Mike McKinnon

Mike McKinnon+ is the Director of Marketing Operations at ReadyTalk. His 15 years of B2B marketing experience has spanned agency work, market research, public relations and business development. At ReadyTalk, he manages their telequalification team as well as oversees ReadyTalk's marketing operations strategy. He has been a repeat speaker at Eloqua Experience, the Business Marketing Association, and the American Marketing Association. He has also been published in the AMA’s Marketing News and Marketing Automation Times.

It’s All About Velocity (part III)

This is the final post in a three-part series on funnel velocity.

As we talked about in my first post, velocity is a key measurement for marketing efficiency. In my second post, I talked about all the levers you could pull to increase velocity via a SLA between sales in marketing. In this post, I am going to give you some suggestions on how you might measure velocity in your organization.

Time stamps are critical to measuring funnel velocity. Most modern CRMs and marketing automation (MA) systems are capable of adding a time stamp when a field is updated. Within our organization, we date/time stamp our prospects as they flow through each step of our sales and marketing funnel. This can be done with a simple workflow rule and either your CRM or MA system is capable of accomplishing this feat.

Once you date stamp the transitions, you can then either export the data or use a fancy formula field to get the duration between the two date stamps. In excel, this is called a DAYS360 formula.

The DAYS360 formula is great for measuring large scale velocity changes in days or months. But, what if your SLA calls for a 1 hour response time on all inbound inquiries; how do you measure that? The process is generally the same but you will need to export the data and run one of the following formulas depending on how you want to splice the time.

=INT((B2-A2)*24) Total hours between two times (4)
=(B2-A2)*1440 Total minutes between two times (295)
=(B2-A2)*86400 Total seconds between two times (17700)
=HOUR(B2-A2) The difference in the hours unit between two times. This value cannot exceed 24 (4).
=MINUTE(B2-A2) The difference in the minutes unit between two times. This value cannot exceed 60 (55).
=SECOND(B2-A2) The difference in the seconds unit between two times. This value cannot exceed 60 (0).

If you wanted to get real fancy, you could set up an export of these date stamps on a periodic basis, do the calculations in excel and then schedule an import of the returned fields for dashboard reporting.

What are some of the ways you measure velocity within your organization?

It’s All About Velocity (part II)

As you read in yesterday's post on funnel velocity, you first need to identify all of the breakpoints in your lead process before you can start tweaking them. Let’s take a look at some of the things you can do at each break point to improve velocity.  I have included the image in my previous post for reference.


First, the one document every organization needs in order to create an impact on velocity is a Service Level Agreement (SLA) between marketing and sales. This SLA will contain a lot of things but one of the most important is putting time constraints around each transition. As a start, you could take your average sales cycle from inquiry to close (I use 80% of deals to weed out any outliers) and establish your SLA around that time. In the diagram, above the example organization has a sales cycle of around 23 days.  Once you have a framework of times to work towards, you can look at different tactical options to get you there. Below are a few things to consider including in your SLA to improve velocity:

  1. It’s essential to implement automation in order to have any effect on velocity. You can use automation to cut down the time to first contact with an auto response. You can also use automation to cut down the time to hand-off to sales rep as well by routing the lead immediately.
  2. A defined and efficient lead process for your qualification team. Make it easy for them to mark leads appropriately and hand them off.
  3. Another component of the SLA would be an established cadence. For example, how many phone calls and emails must be sent in a given time period. This can be tweaked as necessary to see how it affects velocity.

I would love to hear some more ways you can tweak velocity. 

In tomorrow's post, I will talk about some of the ways you can measure velocity.


It’s All About Velocity (part I)

This is the first post in a 3-part series about funnel velocity.

These days’ marketers are really good about measuring a lot of things. Most marketers could tell you their CPA (cost per acquisition) or CPL (cost per lead), their MQL (market qualified lead) conversion rate and a whole host of other metrics. However, very seldom do I hear about funnel velocity (how quickly you can turn an inquiry into a customer).

Velocity can have the greatest direct impact on closed deals. Consider the data reported in 2013 by Yahoo Small Business Advisor: t contacting a lead within five minutes yields a 78 percent close rate, compared with a 19 percent close rate when the response to a lead is within 5 to 30 minutes. Further, a pipeline moving 2x as fast can be 1/2 the value of a comparable pipeline. The essence is simple – move deals as fast as you can through the sales pipeline. Time is the enemy of every sale.

While understanding the average sales cycle is an important part of velocity, you cannot impact velocity without also understanding the break points that lead to your average sales cycle. Consider the basic lead flow:











As you can see there are 5 levers available that will impact velocity. I can tweak anyone of those breakpoints to increase my velocity. How many break points does your organization have? Further, by measuring these break points you can also see where your leads are getting hung up. Mapping out a process like the above is an important first step in understanding your organization's velocity.

In tomorrow's post, I will talk about some of the things you can do to increase velocity at each point.


Debunking Webinar Myth #5: Everyone is doing webinars so they aren’t effective

Debunking Webinar Myth #5: Everyone is doing webinars so they aren’t effective.

Webinar MythsOn the contrary, everyone is doing them because they work – you just need to stand out from the noise. Your goal for conducting a webinar should be to provide value to your target audience, and with a captivating topic and a great speaker, this shouldn’t be a problem.

Tweetable alert: According to Ascend2, of the lead generation tactics available, webinars are the second most effective type of premium content for marketers.

If you want to stand out from the crowd, then try conducting a webinar series of at least three webinars and look at the results over time. Here are some best practices to follow:

  • Have a marketing plan in place so that you can generate as many attendees and registrants as possible.

  • Research common best webinar practices to improve your results.

  • Focus on quality leads instead of the quantity of leads.

What was your most successful webinar? Share your stories in the comments section below!


Stay tuned for the next post in this series about webinar interactivity.


We know there are a lot of common misconceptions about webinars. They’re expensive, people never show up or something always goes wrong. But we also know webinars are a great lead generation tactic that provides companies with high quality leads. So, why all the bad press?

We’re here to debunk the most common webinar myths. Download “The Top 8 Common Webinar Myths” ebook to learn more:

Download ebook

How to Target a Demand Generation Audience vs. a Nurturing Series

How to Target a Demand Generation Audience vs. a Nurturing Series


A basic marketing funnel includes three phases: demand generation, lead nurturing and sales. It's like a person who decides to go skydiving. They initially have an interest in extreme sports and dangerous activities; followed by generating an interest in potentially going themselves; finally they choose the company that suits them best and jump out of the plan. Just like in this skydiving example, you wouldn't use the same type of advertising message in each of these phases. Moving customers through the funnel represents the challenging part–marketers need to alter their content in order to specifically target the correct audience and guide them through the entire funnel.

demand gen--> lead nurture -->sales

The first step in this process is to develop content geared towards the demand generation audience—a broad audience composed of people who have expressed some type of interest in your content. That being said, hammering your specific product and all the precise details of it isn’t the ideal tactic for this group of people. Instead, slowly guide them into understanding your company and your product. Back to the skydiving example, you wouldn't want to jump out of a plane without a parachute or any preparation, would you? This phase is like prepping the prospect by providing general information about skydiving and finding a way for them to trust you enough to jump out of a plane with you.

When designing a webinar targeted towards the demand generation, it is important to focus on thought leadership and best practices for whatever topic you are presenting on. If you say your webinar is about how to promote a webinar, then your webinar should be about ways to promote a webinar. Of course mention your company and offer a place at the end for customers to learn more about your company, but absolutely do not change the topic when the audience is not expecting it. You will lose an audience twice as fast as it took you to gain it. It is important to create a trust factor with your audience. If they like your content, even though it is not about your product, they will continue to come back to watch more of your webinars. Overtime they will trust you, and when they are ready to learn more about your specific product, they will make that move themselves. That trust factor will lead them to believe that you are an actual expert on the topic and not just another sales person. Without honing your product down their throats and actually focusing on other topics that interest them, you will not only seem trustworthy, but also like an expert on the topic. Believe me, if they trust your information and find your content worth their while, they will keep coming back to listen to different webinars.

The goal of content designed specifically for a demand generation audience is to stimulate conversation among people and to set up awareness for your product. Through this process, you will position yourself as the subject matter expert. You have the knowledge that others need, so why not use this opportunity to address common challenges people deal with and give them advice? Consider this: if a random person on the street asked you to jump out of a plane with them, would you do it? How about if a skydiving professional befriended you and answered any questions you have about skydiving without forcing their company on you? This example may be a little extreme, but seriously who would you rather jump out of the plane with?



Once prospects trust you and develop a need for your product, they will progress on to the next stage of the marketing funnel—the nurturing series. This audience is much more segmented and narrow, which gives you the opportunity to advertise your product in a more obvious way. Patience really is a virtue. Now is the time to show off your company’s accomplishments through customer examples, case studies, etc. Your webinar language can become more sophisticated with a diction that relates directly to your products and services. At this point in the process, you are seated at the skydiving office of your newly found friend who previously helped you with all of your challenges. They are currently explaining their specific skydiving equipment and sharing previous customer experiences with you.

Keeping your company top of mind for your prospects since they are now interested in the type of product you sell represents a prominent goal for a nurture series. A good trick to help prospects keep your company at the top of their minds is to create multiple recording clips and separately distribute them over a long period of time to a nurture series.  This is the time for you to look at detailed attributes of your webinar registrants and compose tracks specifically marketed for them. Potential customers now not only know you, but are interested in your product. Absolutely do not let them forget about you. They may come to the conclusion that another company’s product suits their needs more proficiently, but that’s okay, it will happen. However, you have all the power to stay in their evoked set—whatever you do, do not be forgotten.

Following the lead nurturing series, sales will take the reins and try to close the deal. In order for sales to close a deal, they need qualified leads—those leads come from you and your marketing team. Give them customers they can work with—give them the people who want to jump out of the plane, potentially with your company, not the person who is terrified of heights.

Always remember, that webinars are not one size fits all. There are different phases of a marketing funnel that prospects pass through, and those phases should be treated and advertised to accordingly. Keep in mind which phase of the buying cycle your listeners are in and target them appropriately with content that is relevant for them.

To learn more about the differences in targeting demand gen compared to a nurturing series check out our webinar clip: “Demand Gen vs. Nurturing Series.”

For the full webinar, check out our slide deck: From Demand Generation to Making the Sale.

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