The 4 Modern Ps of Marketing — pipeline, promotion, personalization, and predictability — are essential to any digital marketer today. As an update on the original 4 Marketing Ps (product, place, price and promotion), the Modern 4 Ps provide marketers with the framework they need to refine their marketing efforts to prove marketing sourced pipeline across any campaign.
But, pipeline has a special and unique role in marketing. B2B marketers need to examine and understand this pillar so it can meaningfully contribute to the sales pipeline and measure marketing strategies.
Okay, So What Exactly Is Pipeline?
Simply put, pipeline is the collective group containing any known lead that has the potential to be converted into a paying customer. Marketing pipeline is not limited to individual customers, but many times includes small businesses, enterprises, nonprofits, or government organizations.
When marketers talk about ‘building pipeline’, they’re referring to a process that gets potential customers started on the buying journey for a service or product. This helps the organization predict revenue because a fuller marketing pipeline means more potential customers and many organizations have determined what percentage of potential customers convert to paying customers.
For most organizations, marketing plays a significant role in helping build pipeline through a mixture of brand, inbound and demand generation strategies. For example, brand and inbound marketing strategies — working with demand generation teams — will generate leads. The marketing department can then push those leads through its lead generation strategy, identifying an ideal customer through lead qualification and its ideal customer profile. Once done, marketing can share the opportunity with sales and — hopefully — be able to mark that lead as both a customer and a contribution to revenue generation.
Sometimes a lead, however, doesn’t immediately convert into a sales qualified lead. That’s okay. Marketing can slowly guide the opportunity along its own buyer journey — through nurturing tactics like email drips, webinar series and more — before becoming a qualified lead.
How Marketers Can Meaningfully Contribute to Sales Pipeline
So how can you improve sales pipeline? For marketers to make an impact on pipeline, they need to focus their energies on three core areas: understanding the target audience, having a process in place and ensuring their MarTech stack is in order.
Step 1: Move Away From “New Lead, Who Dis?”
The first thing marketers can do to significantly contribute to sales pipeline is to identify and understand the different groups they plan to target. For an effective approach to targeting audiences, marketing and sales need to work together. Often, that means starting at the top with the marketing and sales leaders. Leadership on both sides must be willing to work together and set a good example, set goals and help unify their departments.
Once goals are set by leadership, marketing and sales need to take some time to sit down and identify audiences that have a high likelihood of converting and fit within an ideal customer profile. After outlining their desired audience they need to develop inbound and outbound marketing strategies — from emails and cold calls to blog posts and social media — that will all connect.
Both departments need to be on the same page with how they’re going to generate pipeline. This means nurturing a lot of cross-departmental chatter. Both sides need to have shared goals, need to know what their pipeline targets are and why, and understand how they can develop actionable steps to achieve goals.
With the necessary definitions identified and agreed upon, the next step is to develop buying personas, identifying keywords to target, defining a marketing qualified lead and mapping your content journey (after all, different buyer personas may experience or prefer a different content journey).
Finally, the teams are collaborating. This means that they need to work together to develop an attribution model so they can identify the key moments in the customer journey, like when prospective customers became engaged buyers.
In order for the teams to understand and agree on what success looks like, there are a few other questions to consider:
- What number of sales qualified leads will marketing contribute per quarter?
- What’s the target conversion rate?
- What’s the cost per lead?
Step 2) Create Prosperity In the Process
Getting the terms defined and setting up a pipeline with quality leads that turn into conversions is only the first step. Marketing and sales teams need to have regular meetings to discuss pipeline marketing.
Both teams need to review and assess procedures, plans and practices to see whether the current pipeline marketing strategy is making headway toward achieving goals. While each company is different, there are two basic “syncs” sales and marketing should have for each marketing campaign:
The Kickoff – Often, marketing will need to set up a kickoff meeting with sales to discuss an upcoming campaign. This is a good opportunity to define roles and responsibilities within the campaign and set any goals the teams would like to achieve.
The Post-Mortem – After the marketing campaign is over, sales and marketing should sit down together to discuss results. Marketing should be ready to discuss the overall lead generation and quality and sales should come prepared with feedback on any lead or prospects they are connected with.
Additional joint team meetings — say, once a month — can also be used to discuss how the larger pipeline strategy is holding up, how many qualified leads are being generated and project how pipeline needs are being met.
Step 3) Create a Pointed MarTech Stack
More often than not, the glue that keeps pipeline operations together is a robust, integrated tech stack. When marketing technologies are able to talk to sales technologies, it makes analyzing, reporting and acting on opportunities much, much easier.
For marketers, any technology acquired needs to be able to reliably collect data on leads and integrate with other systems. This latter point is particularly important as integrations make it easier to assess results, send qualified leads to sales in near real-time and improve data quality.
Generating demand and driving pipeline is a huge component to the success of both the marketing and sales teams. Sales has always been able to show their impact on revenue, but with the many changes to marketing over the past several years, tracking and quantifying the marketing pipeline being one of them, marketers are now able to show their ROI too.
Marketers are always developing creative ways to reach potential consumers. By joining forces with sales, they can not only reach those consumers but also target the right type of consumer with a higher potential to turn into a customer. By building a solid pipeline and developing a relevant buying journey for their product, marketing and sales should be able to convert more prospects into customers.