Spring '23 Pipeline Summit Recap

Our Spring '23 Pipeline Summit is in the books! Catch up on all of the incredible insights from the event and stream each session now on Qualified+.

Shelly Weaver
Shelly Weaver
April 21, 2023
min read
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On April 20th, we hosted Spring ‘23 Pipeline Summit, a three-hour virtual event designed to gather our community and get inspired during these challenging times. 

We heard from some of the brightest minds in B2B SaaS to hear their thoughts on the topics on every CMO’s mind right now–from maximizing pipeline coverage to playbooks for outbound marketing to sales and marketing alignment strategies. 

It was a powerful event, and today, we’re breaking down our favorite moments and most significant takeaways. 

Sarah Franklin revealed that right now, 100% of her time is focused on pipeline, pipeline, pipeline

Sarah Franklin and Kraig Swensrud wrapping up their session, The State of Marketing, Spring '23.

Pipeline is why we’re all here, right? Sarah Franklin (President & CMO, Salesforce) spoke with Kraig Swensrud (Founder & CEO, Qualified), to cover the State of Marketing and everything top of mind for marketing leaders in SaaS. When asked how much of her time is focused on generating pipeline, she said, “I would say a hundred percent of my time is focused on pipeline, even the time focused on the health of my team or doing team bonding. If you don't have successful, happy team members, they're not gonna be helping you deliver pipeline.”

Everything we do as marketing leaders should be with pipeline coverage in mind, including prioritizing the health and wellness of your teams and customers to ensure everyone is capable of performing at their best. 

▶️ Watch The State of Marketing, Spring ‘23 here. 

Jon Miller kept it real with how he feels about the “do more with less” mantra

B2B marketing legend, Jon Miller (CMO, Demandbase) and Maura Rivera (CMO, Qualified), talked all things pipeline coverage–but a standout moment was his challenging of that phrase we all can’t seem to get away from these days: do more with less. 

I don't like the phrase do more with less. I think it's just asking people who are already working really, really hard to work even harder somehow. The definition of insanity is just doing the same thing and expecting different results. Even worse is doing more of the same thing expecting different results.”

- Jon Miller, CMO, Demandbase

Jon also pointed out that most marketers are using the same tactics, in the same ways, and it’s hard to rise above the noise. Not only do we risk burnout as marketers, but we risk burnout with buyers if we’re all saying the same thing. Creative thinking and strategic experimentation are essential to prevent burnout in both cases. 

▶️ Watch 5x is the New 3x here

Latané Conant laid out how important communities are, especially in times like these

Known for establishing 6Sense’s CMO Coffee Talk community, author and marketer Latané Conant (CMO, 6Sense) sat down with Sean Whiteley (Founder, Qualified) to discuss what it takes to build and maintain a thriving community and what marketers should consider before they decide to just up and start their own. They covered a lot of ground, but something that stuck out was what marketers often get wrong about why they need to start a community. 

“This is a hard game that we're in. It's a hard game, and the playbook changes all the time. The value of community is important. Even though we were joking about LinkedIn Learning–there's no specific LinkedIn Learning course that can teach us about the current situation in our business. The best way to learn is by experiencing it in real-time, and it starts with sharing. When you share, you'll receive back, and the more authentically you share, the better.”

Communities can provide valuable support and perspectives, especially in times like these, but it takes someone with passion and heart to make it successful. 

Watch Unlocking The Power of Connection: How B2B Brands Can Leverage Communities for Growth here.

Nina Butler cleared up the misconception that generative AI came out of nowhere

ChatGPT is everywhere, all the time, and the discourse ranges from thrilled to have a free intern to terrified of what this means for us as content creators. But Nina Butler (Head of Marketing, Regie.ai) was quick to put all of our minds at ease during Pipeline Power Hour with Ian Faison (Founder & CEO, Caspian Studios). 

It's a seemingly overnight sensation, but in actuality, generative AI technology has been worked on for decades. It's only with the introduction of ChatGPT has it captured mainstream attention, which I think gives this false sense of illusion that this technology sprouted up overnight.” 

– Nina Butler, Head of Marketing, Regie.ai

Instead of fearing this technology, she encourages marketers to learn how to harness the power of generative AI and use it to power their marketing and sales efforts. The use cases for this tech are endless, and it’s best to learn how to use it now and understand the role of generative AI alongside human teams before you get left behind. 

▶️ Watch Pipeline Power Hour: Generative AI–The Future of GTM here.

Sidney Waterfall told us why we have to stop thinking of marketing as a funnel 

We’ve all been trained to translate the buyer’s journey into a perfectly conical top-middle-bottom flow–but buyer behavior changes quickly, and as Sidney Waterfall (SVP Growth, Refine Labs) shared with Ian, that traditional marketing funnel doesn’t really apply any longer. 

“I think there's a lot of assumptions that we make with buyer journeys. We assume we know people and what their buyer journey should look like and then how it should map into a funnel. We kind of try to reverse engineer that, but it's based on assumptions, and obviously, buyers have changed a lot in the last few years and will continue to rapidly change.” 

She went on to explain that we need to think of the buyer journey in a less linear motion, and more of a status change–are they in buying mode or no? What content do they need to flip that buying mode switch? Sidney’s session was an important reminder that marketing simply isn’t a one-size-fits-all process, and we have to keep evolving with our buyers. 

Watch Pipeline Power Hour: Funnel Vision–Unlearning the Marketing Funnel here.

Natalie Johnson Charles reminded us that when a sales cycle slows down, it’s up to marketing and sales to work together to stay top of mind

When revealing her Top 3 Outbound Marketing Plays, Natalie Johnson Charles (VP Revenue Marketing, Outreach) emphasized how important it is for marketing and sales teams to be totally aligned when a deal stalls out for a seamless motion when the buyer is ready again. 

“In any sales cycle, you're always going to have a reason why a deal is being deferred or a meeting is being deferred. It could be anything from budget not being available until later in the year or it could be just because the decision-making process is taking too long. But the point is this, is that there's always that reason and there's a way for marketing and sales to work together to get the right messaging in front of that individual when the deferment period has lapsed.”

By working together to stay top of mind with potential buyers, you can stay top of mind, even during a deferment period. 

▶️ Watch Pipeline Power Hour: 3 Outbound Strategies to Drive Demand here.

Mai Green recommended that in this age of “do more with less,” we commit to ruthless prioritization

We’re all trying to do as much as we can with fewer resources, but this can lead to burnout, subpar work, and spreading ourselves too thin to create a cohesive marketing strategy. Mai Green (SVP Brand Engagement, Salesforce) shared what Salesforce is doing differently this year when it comes to prioritizing their Customer Marketing programs. 

I think it's ruthless prioritization. It's focusing on the things that matter that are going to move the needle. So maybe it's just a few hundred customer brands that we're featuring, but we're going deeper with them and we're merchandising those stories.”

- Mai Green, SVP Brand Engagement, Salesforce

Mai and her team are focusing on making a bigger impact by telling fewer customer stories but with a deeper exploration and wider distribution strategy. 

▶️ Watch Pipeline Power Hour–Leveraging the Power of Customer Marketing here

Kris Rudeegraap revealed the mistake marketers make with direct mail

Kris Rudeegraap (CEO, Sendoso) cautioned sales and marketing teams alike against expecting direct mail to be a silver bullet, and to be ready to do the follow-up work required to see the ROI. 

“One mistake I see is just the thinking of direct mail as a silver bullet, sending it, closing their eyes and just waiting for their phone to ring. I think that it's like everything else, you have to be diligent and follow up, and you have to really make sure that you are putting effort into the entire process. It’s not a silver bullet that you send a thousand mailers out and get a thousand phone calls immediately.”

Direct Mail can be a remarkable, memorable way to grab a buyer’s attention, but if you don’t do the necessary due diligence, it’s a waste of cash and time–two things none of us have to burn right now. 

▶️ Watch Pipeline Power Hour: Driving Pipeline with Direct Mail here.

Sheridan Gaenger gave Sarah McConnell her new favorite tech stack metaphor 

Sarah McConnell and Sheridan Gaenger recapping their session, The ABM Blueprint.

Sarah McConnell (VP Demand Gen, Qualified) and Sheridan Gaenger (VP Revenue Marketing, ProductBoard) took us through the lifecycle of an ABM campaign, sharing their pro tips and best practices to create high-performing ABM strategies. In addition to giving attendees their ABM Blueprint, Sheridan gave us a metaphor we won’t forget. 

“My tech stack sundae, as I call it. I'm particular about what technologies I have used in my past and in my current life.

When we're thinking about setting up your teams for account-based success. So for example, Salesforce. In your CRM, you need somewhere to house all of your records and your customers. You need a tool like Qualified to understand that intent signals to clearly have that line of sight into what accounts are showing signal and intent.

And how do you staff your teams to be able to work those accounts? You need an outreach tool. For example, we use Outreach to be able to communicate with those accounts and drive some of that outbound and inbound activity. And then you need a prospecting tool like LinkedIn. These are some of the key marketing and sales technologies that you need to get started.

But there are a lot of other flavors out there. You need something to house your data. You need to understand the signals of those accounts. You need to be able to prospect accordingly and you need to be able to report on all of your leading and lagging indicators. Again, lots of different flavors. Figure out which ones work for you, but there are some great technologies out there to support it.” 

You’ll never look at your tech stack as anything other than a treat, we’re sure of it. 

▶️ Watch The ABM Blueprint here, and download your own ABM Blueprint here.

Anna Rosenman shared her simple solution to avoiding the blame game between sales and marketing

How do revenue leaders avoid the all-too-common blame game when numbers slip? Robert Zimmermann (CRO, Qualified) posed the question during our Sales and Marketing Alignment panel featuring Anna Rosenman (CMO, Automation Anywhere) and Sid Kumar (SVP RevOps, HubSpot). According to Anna, you should just blame product 😉

“Well, we like to blame product. That's our strategy. Just kidding. I think that when everything is good, everyone's a winner, right? When everything is good, when everyone's hitting their numbers, the marketing is perfect. The sales guys are so talented. The product's perfect. It's when the company isn't necessarily achieving their goals that finger-pointing begins and it would be too easy if it was as simple as the leads suck, right? Or if the sales guys need to be doing one thing differently.

It's usually a combination of factors. So how do you get to that consensus, or how do you get that problem clarity? I think the first thing that's really important is do we agree on the data? As quickly as you can, get all of your data into a single place.”

Jokes aside, aligning all players on one single source of truth is imperative to preventing finger-pointing and keep everyone moving forward when times get tough. Once you’re all on the same page, you can work together to achieve your goals. 

▶️ Watch Internal Alignment for External Momentum here.

Sid Kumar broke down how to clearly define the roles and responsibilities within your org’s revenue functions

Sid made a great point when it comes to how you get to that more aligned approach as separate teams. Instead of working within silos, he recommends taking the customer’s POV into consideration in order to back into what teams should be responsible for certain goals. 

If you have a clear view of what your customer journey looks like and what those different engagement points are for your buyers, the alignment becomes a lot easier and you start thinking about it as a horizontal, as opposed to functional silos.” 

- Sid Kumar, SVP RevOps, HubSpot

Once you’ve identified all the right functions to support your customers on their buying pre- and post-sales journeys, you can outline your specific responsibilities and measurements of success. 

▶️ Watch Internal Alignment for External Momentum here.

Nolan Mikowski reminded us how important the right message at the right time is

We closed out our show with the success story of FreshBooks, one of our customers who have found major wins in segmenting their audiences and offering personalized messaging based on insights and data from the Pipeline Cloud. Nolan Mikowski (Marketing Manager, FreshBooks) shared what their main focus has been over the last year, and it’s a good reminder that sometimes marketing means keeping things simple, and giving your buyers exactly what they want, when they want it. 

“We've really just tried to make sure we create messaging that matters. You know, sometimes you need to hear a joke, sometimes you need to just get right to it and hear exactly what you need or read exactly what you need.” 

▶️ Watch Pipeline Heroes ft. FreshBooks here.

Spring '23 Pipeline Summit was an incredible event, and we loved bringing so many stellar speakers and attendees together for a day of learning and inspiration. 

We can’t wait to see what the next Pipeline Summit holds. Until then, stream all of our sessions here, and make sure to sign up for updates on our next event while you’re there! 

See you this summer 👋🌊

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