Maximizing pipeline impact for a strong end of year

Learn 8 ways to get the most out of your pipeline generation tactics in Q4.

Maximizing pipeline impact for a strong end of year
Shelly Weaver
Shelly Weaver
October 17, 2023
min read
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Apple Podcast LinkGoogle Podcast LinkSpotify Podcast Link

The landscape of B2B sales and marketing is ever-evolving, and this year in particular has been a rollercoaster for tech companies, but pipeline management remains at the heart of every successful strategy.

It's the lifeline that keeps your business thriving, ensuring a steady flow of opportunities and conversions, and a healthy pipeline is critical to weathering less-than-favorable economic times.

But how can you redefine and optimize your approach to pipeline generation?

Sarah McConnell, Qualified’s VP of Demand Gen, joined us in a recent episode Pipeline Visionaries to share valuable tips that will help B2B sales and marketing teams end 2023 strong.

1. Define what good pipeline is for your team

First of all, define what is quality pipeline for your team—and redefine it often. It’s not just anyone who lands on your site—setting parameters around what qualifies as pipeline for your team is crucial to identifying what’s working and what isn’t for your team.

For Sarah, that answer lies within one question: "Do we have an at-bat with this company and have a real chance at winning their business?"

In today's competitive landscape, it's not just about filling your pipeline with leads; it's about targeting the right prospects and nurturing those relationships.

Your pipeline should be a dynamic entity that represents real opportunities rather than a stagnant list of leads you blast with an email every month. To make the most of your pipeline, segment and prioritize your prospects, ensuring that your efforts are focused on those who are more likely to convert.

2. View demand gen as a team sport

B2B sales and marketing teams need to think holistically about demand generation. While lead generation is crucial, it's only one piece of the puzzle. A comprehensive demand generation strategy involves creating valuable content, hosting engaging events, and effectively marketing your products or services.

What does this mean? It means demand gen doesn’t happen in a vacuum, and a successful demand gen marketer in this climate has to be in lock-step with the other functions in their org.

As Sarah put it, "Events, content, and product marketing are all part of a larger demand gen strategy."

The best thing you can do for your demand gen strategy is to supercharge it with the other members of your marketing team, rounding out your approach.

Your content fuels your event promotions, and events generate content for post-event marketing, creating a loop that feeds itself and your demand gen goals. By integrating all of your marketing elements, you can maximize your demand generation efforts and you create a more cohesive customer journey from touchpoint to touchpoint.

It’s a win-win.

3. Become a sales-driven marketing leader

Modern marketing leaders must be closely aligned with sales teams, understanding that their primary goal is to contribute to pipeline growth.

"The importance of pipeline makes a better, more sales-driven marketer,” Sarah said when asked about how Qualified measures the impact of their demand gen strategies.

To achieve this alignment, leaders need to focus on metrics that matter to both marketing and sales. Instead of merely tracking leads generated, consider metrics measuring your marketing efforts against goals that encourage both sides of the org to work together.

When marketing is measured against goals like stage two pipeline conversions and not just sessions on a website, they’re more apt to explore all stages of the funnel for leaks they can address.

4. Let the data drive your budget decisions

As budgets come under even more scrutiny toward the end 2023, B2B sales and marketing teams must adopt a data-driven approach to decision-making—we’re not throwing money around like we were a few years ago. . Every dollar spent should be justified by its contribution to pipeline growth.

"We're starting to be more diligent and cautious about spend, always looking at the data," Sarah said, referencing their team’s upcoming end of year budget review—ruthless prioritization is a lot easier when you have the data to backup your decisions.

Use analytics tools to track the performance of your marketing campaigns rigorously. Identify what's working and what's not, and be ready to pivot your strategies accordingly. Investing in technologies that provide accurate attribution models can help you gain a clearer picture of how each marketing touchpoint contributes to pipeline growth.

5. Unravel your attribution mess before it unravels you

"Attribution is so messy, I just want to know as much as I can and use it to build hypotheses,” Sarah called out what we all know as marketers—attribution is almost always a fighting word between marketing and sales teams.

Attribution remains a significant challenge in the B2B marketing world. The customer journey is complex, with multiple touch points across various channels, and that’s more true than ever when you consider the rise in influencer marketing, dark social, and thought leadership as a demand gen strategy. It’s harder than ever to know how to attribute leads.

Instead of getting bogged down by the complexity, focus on gathering as much data as possible and using it to build hypotheses. Develop a deep understanding of your customer's journey, and don't rely solely on last-click attribution models.

Consider multi-touch attribution models that give credit to all touch points in the conversion path, providing a more accurate view of your pipeline's performance.

6. View pipeline as the thread that connects every department

Sarah knows the importance of pipeline from your marketing team to your sales org, and beyond, "Pipeline is the one word that threads through all of those departments and means so much to them."

Your pipeline isn't just a concern for your sales and marketing teams; it's a central focus for your entire organization. It's the thread that connects various departments and aligns their efforts towards a common goal: revenue growth.

Effective communication and collaboration across departments are essential for pipeline success. Ensure that your sales, marketing, and customer success teams are aligned in their understanding of what constitutes a qualified lead and how leads are nurtured through the pipeline.

This alignment fosters a more cohesive customer experience, and ultimately, more growth for every team.

7. Invest in your in-house production team

When it comes to 2024 budget planning, it’s important to know what your demand gen strategy simply cannot afford to lose. What are you willing to go to the mat with your CFO on?

"Uncuttable for us is Qualified Studios. We do a lot of our content in-house," Sarah said, referencing Qualified’s in-house web dev, design, and video productions team. From start to finish, they do very little with external agencies, creating an intense sense of ownership over their brand that is hard to get otherwise.

To stand out in the crowded B2B landscape, high-quality content creation is essential. It's what attracts and engages your audience, positioning your brand as an industry leader. Investing in in-house content creation, like "Qualified Studios," can be a game-changer.

By producing content internally, you gain more control over your brand's messaging and quality. You can respond quickly to market trends and customer needs, providing a competitive edge. High-quality content resonates with your target audience and can significantly impact your pipeline by driving awareness and interest.

8. Give your buyer every avenue possible

The key takeaway here is the importance of flexibility and personalization in your approach. Recognize that different prospects have unique preferences when it comes to engagement, and lean into them. As Sarah put it, “As long as I can qualify you and turn you into pipeline, I'm gonna give you as many avenues as possible to convert."

Offer multiple avenues for conversion, such as live conversations, chatbots, and forms. Your goal is to qualify and convert leads efficiently in the way that the buyer most prefers. By providing diverse options, you ensure that you meet your prospects where they are in their buying journey, ultimately feeding your pipeline.

Pipeline management remains a top priority for B2B sales and marketing teams. By understanding the nuances of defining and expanding your pipeline, aligning your strategies with the impact on CMOs, and making data-driven budget decisions, you can navigate the attribution challenges effectively.

During this conversation, Sarah expertly shared that your pipeline should serve as a common thread that unites your organization, and investing in high-quality content creation can set you apart in a competitive landscape. To win over fellow marketers, market to marketers, and always focus on providing multiple avenues for conversion. Maximize your pipeline's impact, and you'll be on the path to sustained growth and success in the B2B space.

Watch the entire chat with Sarah here.

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