B2B Marketing Blog

Pipeline Marketing: A Conversation With Our Partners

By Alexis Getscher
Sep 30, 2015
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Pipeline Marketing

Pipeline marketing is something we’ve implemented at Bizible since the beginning, but it’s still a new concept to a lot of people. Instead of standing on our podium and preaching about all the benefits of pipeline marketing, we thought you’d like to hear it from our choir.

We reached out to some of our partners and asked them a few questions regarding pipeline marketing and their experiences with the concept. Read on, for advice from AJ Wilcox, Matthew Buckley, Matt Heinz, Rich Norwood and Peter Dean

Heinz Marketing, Pipeline Marketing

Matt Heinz, Heinz Marketing Inc. Matt Heinz

How did you come to the realization pipeline marketing was something you wanted for your clients?

When I started Heinz Marketing seven years ago, our initial focus was on lead generation. But I quickly realized this wasn’t enough.  It didn’t go far enough or deep enough into the pipeline to make a real impact. Without measuring demand’s impact and efficiency on pipeline contribution and closed business, it’s literally impossible to know if what you are doing is converting into dollars, profitable dollars, for your business. It’s only half of the story, and the cost portion at that! Marketers need to start acting like profit centers, and pipeline marketing is an accelerant for that.

What was the biggest improvement you noticed after switching to a pipeline marketing mindset?

There are numerous benefits to a pipeline marketing mindset, but one critical component is alignment and credibility outside of the marketing organization. Have you ever noticed that marketing traditionally is the only organization at management team meetings that reports on activity instead of results? Finance talks about the balance sheet and financial forecast, product talks about new features and roadmap, sales talks about results – then marketing talks about campaigns, the new brand/logo, the trade show coming up, etc. These activities may lead to revenue, but they are a means unto the ends.  And unless you have a pipeline marketing mindset, you are likely failing to align what you are doing with what the organization truly cares about. You cannot underestimate the impact of this alignment. It demonstrates to your CFO that you are focused and aligned, and makes budget conversations faster and easier. It demonstrates to your sales counterparts that you are directly supporting their goals. It just makes your job easier as a marketer.

What's the most important component to a pipeline marketing strategy?

Great pipeline marketing starts and ends with math, with science. Your pipeline marketing strategy starts with a spreadsheet. Keep it simple – how many deals do we need at what sales price, how big of a pipeline do we need to get there, and how many leads do we need to achieve that pipeline? Add definitions of qualified leads and opportunities to that, apply an estimated sales cycle length so that the leads are generated early enough, and you have a plan to build from.

That model is the science at the start. As you execute, you need to measure:

1. Whether you are hitting the math as intended.

2. Whether the math and conversion expectations were correct in the first place (otherwise you make adjustments to accommodate).

3. Which elements of your marketing are performing more efficiently or more profitably. You can (and probably should) make it more complicated than this, but few marketers even do this much. It’s a great foundation to the science of pipeline marketing.

What would you say to B2B marketers who have never heard of pipeline marketing?

It’s possible you’ve heard the idea in different words. Math marketing, revenue marketing, etc. The name isn’t as important as the mindset.

What do you think is holding companies back from adopting pipeline marketing?

Many things, but first among them (based on my conversations with B2B marketing leaders nationwide) is a fear of embracing revenue responsibility. The first pushback I often hear from marketers who are asked to take responsibility for revenue is that they don’t control when the deal gets closed. That’s the sales team’s job. Well, I have yet to meet a sales professional who actually controls when the deal closes. If that were in fact true, no one would ever miss their number! Sales professionals don’t shy away from their goals simply because they are difficult to control.

What's the hottest topic in pipeline marketing right now? Account based marketing, marketing technology, etc?

Whatever I write in this space now, will no longer be the hottest girl at the dance in a couple months or quarters. I’m a fan of account based marketing, although it’s not nearly a new concept. Salespeople have taken a Named Account approach forever. Marketing’s ability to align behind that more fully- focus more on quality of leads vs. quantity- is actually a great way to start aligning better with sales and taking a pipeline marketing mindset.

Where do you think B2B marketing is headed in the next 5 years?

More measurable, more accountable. More revenue responsibility. More marketing organizations will directly manage sales development and lead qualification functions. More marketing organizations will be measured not on leads but on sales pipeline contribution. It’s exciting and terrifying for many marketers but it’s inevitable if you want to lead B2B marketing organizations in the years to come.

Any other thoughts or comments on B2B marketing or pipeline marketing?

Alignment for marketing around the pipeline is fantastic, but it will fail without being rooted in the customer. The better you know your buyer- what motivates them, what context they bring to the sales cycle in terms of problems, pain, desired outcomes – these elements will make your content, your marketing output, your sales alignment and your results, far better.

b2linked

AJ Wilcox, B2LinkedAJ_Wilcox

How did you come to the realization pipeline marketing was something you wanted for your clients?

For me, it was part of my data journey. It started with my discontent optimizing off of the metrics I had. I began by optimizing ads to the CTR. As soon as I effectively got access to form fills, I realized how many poor decisions I was making. I soon became discontent with optimizing to the form fill because of the vast difference in lead quality between channels. As I asked more questions, I realized that you need every stage of the pipeline into account or you'll be making the wrong decisions.

What was the biggest improvement you noticed after switching to a pipeline marketing mindset?

I found that I was now able to confidently allocate budget to audiences, keywords, channels, and ads, without staying awake at night, wondering what would work and what would fail.

What's the most important component to a pipeline marketing strategy?

Getting access to your data!

What do you think is holding companies back from adopting pipeline marketing?

Access to their data is difficult, and the tools to efficiently make use of their optimization time are time consuming.

What's the hottest topic in pipeline marketing right now? Account based marketing, marketing technology, etc?

MarTech.

Where do you think B2B marketing is headed in the next 5 years?

I think we'll see more integrated, multi-channel approaches. Multiple ad platforms feeding nurture programs that reach not only email boxes or display advertising, but also SMS/Dimensional/Etc.

New Breed Marketing, Pipeline Marketing

Matthew Buckley, New Breed MarketingMatthew_Buckley

How did you come to the realization pipeline marketing was something you wanted for your clients?

Pipeline marketing was the next logical step for our organization as we expanded our inbound marketing services. It was clear that just generating leads wasn’t enough and that both New Breed and our customers would be more successful if we partnered with them and looked at their funnel from top to bottom and were allowed to make decisions based on what was driving the most revenue.

What was the biggest improvement you noticed after switching to a pipeline marketing mindset?

Our customers have been more successful, and in turn so has our business. We’re now able to evaluate tactics and channels based on which are sourcing the most opportunities and generating the most revenue, not just the most leads.

What's the most important component to a pipeline marketing strategy?

It’s really critical that your marketing and sales teams be aligned and have clear goals that they’re working to achieve together. We’ve gone so far as to merge our marketing and sales departments under a single Revenue Team, and encourage our customers to do the same.

What would you say to B2B marketers who have never heard of pipeline marketing?

The train is leaving the station, hop on board!

train gif

But seriously, I feel strongly that this is the future for B2B marketing and sales organizations and that it’s important to start today to lay the foundation looking at both organizational structure and goals, as well as the technology stack that can take you there.

What do you think is holding companies back from adopting pipeline marketing?

It’s a fundamentally different way of looking at marketing that’s very different than traditional awareness or brand and buzz campaigns that marketers have historically been responsible for. I think it’s as much accepting this new mindset, as anything that holds companies back.

What's the hottest topic in pipeline marketing right now? Account based marketing, marketing technology, etc?

Martech is a big one, there are so many different software options out there today that aim to help marketers execute on pipeline marketing methodology. For pipeline marketing to be successful, it’s really important that marketers are selecting the solution stack that will easily give them access to the information they need to be successful.  

Where do you think B2B marketing is headed in the next 5 years?

I think that B2B marketing will continue to adopt this revenue minded methodology and the technology that they use to execute it will become increasingly sophisticated, allowing us to create more personalized and relevant experiences for website visitors, leads, opportunities and customers alike.

ClosedOpp, Pipeline Marketing

Rich Norwood, ClosedOpp Rich Norwood

How did you come to the realization pipeline marketing was something you wanted for your clients?

Our founder was working for a large hosting company managing their PPC when he was approached by the C-Level suggesting that he should stop reporting on AdWords Conversions because they didn't align with what they were seeing from opportunities and revenue. It was at time that pipeline marketing was actually discovered by ClosedOpp founder Rich Norwood.

He found Bizible and started doing PPC for the hosting company using Salesforce data – what would later come to be pipeline marketing. After a couple years of exceptional growth for his hosting company and executives boosting about the fact that they were shocked that PPC could be used to deliver enterprise deals, Norwood knew he had something. He quit his six-figure job without hesitation and moved his family to Seattle to be near Bizible; the first Salesforce Focused PPC agency was born.

What was the biggest improvement you noticed after switching to a pipeline marketing mindset?

Results. We could get a lot better results, and we were not looked at like the marketing agency that reported on AdWords Conversions. We were looked at with greater respect for reporting on Salesforce leads, opportunities, wins, and average pipeline. From CMOs to Marketing Directors to Managers, we were validated as something different. We stood out from every other agency. We were trusted for NOT having discussions about AdWords Conversions.

What's the most important component to a pipeline marketing strategy?

The secret is the opportunity. Leads do not correlate to revenue, however, opportunities have a high correlation (R-Squared above 80) with revenue. Once you get tracking technology that works, and you trust that tracking opportunities will change the course of your business, you'll get results. This really isn't rocket science.

What would you say to B2B marketers who have never heard of pipeline marketing?

If you have Salesforce, or another CRM that Bizible integrates with, get on board or you will be replaced like Uber replaced cab drivers.

What do you think is holding companies back from adopting pipeline marketing?

Salesforce training.

What's the hottest topic in pipeline marketing right now? Account based marketing, marketing technology, etc?

For some odd reason, maybe because it's catchy, Account Based Marketing is what everyone is talking about on LinkedIn. However, I think people need to know the fundamentals before getting wrapped up in Account Based Marketing. Learn how to use Salesforce Reports. Learn how to build lead views. Learn how to talk to executives about why you care more about opportunities than leads. Bizible has mastered Account Based Marketing; it's built-in with their tool. Let the technology work for you and learn how to use it – learn the fundamentals first.

Where do you think B2B marketing is headed in the next 5 years?

For B2B marketing, pipeline marketing has changed the game. You will be expected to make financial decisions very soon. You will have your CFO and COO connected to your hip. Why? Because you're now speaking their language. Before pipeline marketing, marketing was perceived as a cost center, talking about AdWords Conversions. Thanks to Bizible, pipeline marketing has turned lead generation into revenue generation. Again, adapt and learn the fundamentals and you'll be a star.

Any other thoughts or comments on B2B marketing or pipeline marketing?

Focus on Opportunities.

rendertribe, pipeline marketing

Peter Dean, rendertribe Peter Dean

How did you come to the realization pipeline marketing was something you wanted for your clients?

The pipeline marketing approach is something I wanted for my past businesses. As a CEO of a startup e-commerce company, I had a very limited budget and was on a quest to grow my company as fast as I could with the capital we had. Back at that time, it was much harder to measure marketing output but it was very important. From then on, I was on a quest to connect all the dots I could in the digital pipeline across both marketing and sales. I see the process as a huge equation of many plusses and minuses in a digital customer acquisition equation. I believe that the companies that can measure all the plusses and minuses in the equation and learn from them will be the ones that solve for their market.

What was the biggest improvement you noticed after switching to a pipeline marketing mindset?

To be honest with you, it has been a learning journey and not just one realization. One of the biggest advantages we have leveraged is the ability adjust budgets to deliver higher bottom line results for our customers on all channels. We are continuously leveraging data and driving higher ROI in all aspects of digital.  

What's the most important component to a pipeline marketing strategy?

That is simple. The devil is in the details. The one thing that people have a hard time letting go of is that the process is not about generating leads, but really about generating sales. We have learned that more leads does not always mean more sales because they are only part of the overall equation. We learned this hard lesson early on when we had a blended ROI across a channel. We then adjusted budget to lower cost leads in a campaign and ended up decreasing revenue with an increase in leads. In essence, we created more work for our sales team while decreasing our total gross profit. When we dug into the data we found that the higher cost leads were generating 3x ROI vs. a very low ROI from the lower cost lead campaign. At the end of the day, our goal was to produce revenue and not leads. We will not make that mistake again.

What would you say to B2B marketers who have never heard of pipeline marketing?

We all have great ideas, but in reality it is just a hypothesis until we test it in our market. We are very good at justifying theories and explaining away poor results. The reality is we need to become less married to the ideas and more focused on the results. We need to let the data help us learn. This, combined with your market knowledge, can be a very powerful tool. You may be surprised when you really know where your revenue is coming from. Sometimes we need to get out of our own way. To me it is about marketing responsibly. You have to get your ego out of the way and become the student of the output.

What do you think is holding companies back from adopting pipeline marketing?

I see so many things in the way:

1. When a marketing team has a leads goal they are focused on the wrong results and this creates a siloed focus. We need to be measured on revenue. The siloed approach is one of the largest problems that needs to evolve within organizations.

2. Believe it or not, many companies say they are measuring the source of leads but they are actually fooling themselves. When I hear that lead sources are demo requests, website form captures, I know we have more education to do. They think they have the data they need and are actually not calibrating on actual good data.  

3. Sometimes it is ego. Thinking they know their market cold and not letting the market drive.

What's the hottest topic in pipeline marketing right now? Account based marketing, marketing technology, etc?

An important topic is how to build the right technology stack to leverage the results. There is not one tool that accomplishes everything you need to leverage the insight you gain. There are so many ways to leverage the data, but the challenge is baking that data back into the execution workflow. Most the the tools out there are focused on the middle of their market and often give lip service to attribution, but really have not built in the granularity we need to be effective.

Where do you think B2B marketing is headed in the next 5 years?

The revolution has just begun. I think that we will start to see sales and marketing teams becoming one team. We have a ways to go. The customer does not care if they are consuming a piece of our content or talking to a rep. All they care about is solving their problem. Conversations are becoming less prevalent and the engagement fulcrum point in B2B is moving closer to the actual buy for many markets. We need our business process to mirror this same thinking. The companies that are aligning to this new process are winning.

Any other thoughts or comments on B2B marketing or pipeline marketing?

I talk a lot about data, building a hypothesis and measuring results. We can’t lose sight of the fact that there are many campaigns we run that have an impact on revenue that we can’t measure. We find that the data can really add some amazing horsepower to your overall results and we can’t run a program without it. That being said, you always have to combine your market knowledge with the data to make good strategic decisions. We can’t measure everything yet. Yet!

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