After five huddles on pipeline-related challenges, it’s clear that there’s tension in the air. And it sounds like this: “Sales isn’t closing. Sales keeps asking us for more leads. Sales isn’t trying to understand the customer’s pain points. It’s getting harder to close deals. We went from rockstars to being blamed for every sales issue.”
This is a warning sign for all CMOs that something’s not right, but Marketing can’t fall back on the old “Sales sucks” canard. Marketing always loses in this scenario. Think about it: A company has never, ever given marketing more budget when revenue goes down.
Like it or not, this is your problem, not theirs. Thus, marketing leaders must, without hesitation, find the problem and fix it in partnership with Sales. No one is saying this is easy or fun but most CMOs agree that they can drive the requisite pipeline improvements with one or more of the 5 “I’s” spelled out below.
Isolate the Problem
Grab your magnifying glass and Holmesian powers of deduction. Start from the assumption that Marketing is fully committed to driving revenue (with Sales and despite Sales), and then work backward. Are the issues happening at the top, mid, or bottom of the funnel? Most huddlers are seeing things go wrong at the middle and bottom.
Are your content-generated leads not converting? Maybe you need a re-qualifying process. Are certain segments not closing? Maybe you need to rethink each segment’s sales motion. Are SDRs qualifying dead-end leads based on Sales requirements? Maybe you need a different incentive structure for your sales development reps (SDRs) to ensure they only pass along truly stellar opportunities.
Improve Your Scoring System
If Sales isn’t accepting your SDR’s leads, then it’s time to revisit your scoring system in conjunction with Sales and your SDRs. Make sure you can distinguish the signals of intent from real buyers from the noise of tire kickers.
The goal in this process is to focus on quality over quantity—don’t give in to the cry from Sales for “more leads.” Enlightened CMOs are laser focused on getting better ones. If Sales is asking for more leads, it may be that they are too new on the job to have meaningful consultative conversations with prospects and need more training.
Increase Self-Serve Content & Tools
Most buyers don’t want to talk to a salesperson unless they absolutely have to. Instead, they prefer to do their homework and consult with outside experts until it is time to negotiate or discuss customizations. So, is there an opportunity to increase the self-serve components of your buying journey? At a minimum, you should have explainer videos, buyer’s guides, ROI calculators, usage configurators, case studies, and customer testimonial videos.
The smaller the deal size, the more essential it is that these deals become self-serve. Potential customers should be able to access pricing, features, and a sign-up portal, all backed up by helpful resources and community content.
If You Lose to Nobody...
A lot of potential deals are not lost to competition, but to inaction. In these sad cases, the buyer decides not to buy anything. It’s crucial to understand why these deals aren’t moving forward—and it’s not always that you’re bringing in the wrong leads. It could be due to perceived ROI or perceived time-to-value. They could conclude that the pain of change is simply greater than the gain of change.
If you are able to understand prospect indecision, you can create content and tools to address the problem. Some huddlers have found great success in proof-of-concept pilots. Where your competitors might have a lower price, the POC pilot shows your commitment to their success. In a Renegade Marketers Live, Gary Sevounts shared that proof-of-concept pilots played a huge role in the Socure’s 500% yearly growth.
Here’s some sage advice from huddler Caroline Tien-Spalding: “Put 10-20% of your budget into experiments.” The market is constantly evolving and always will be, so marketers need to be running experiments to see what’s working and what isn’t. A/B tests are easier than ever to run at various stages, so go wild and test content types, offers, targets, channels, and more. You never know what experiment is going to become integral to your business strategy.
Final note: Let us know if you’ve found more ways to solve your pipeline challenges.