Foundational Marketing

Marketing Leaders: Is your team connected to pipeline?

By Trusted CMO

Pipeline isn’t just a sales term. It's a crucial metric for the entire GTM motion – including the marketing team. However, many startups slip into random acts of marketing that aren’t tailored to their target audience or tied to a strategy that creates measureable demand leading to potential sale. 

So, how do you ensure your marketing function aligns with your pipeline goals and remains outcome-driven? In this post, we’ll explore how to build a cohesive GTM motion that drives quality leads and opens revenue-generating opportunities.

What is pipeline? 

The sales pipeline is composed of open opportunities. Typically, for enterprise sales, an account executive has met with the prospect, “priced” the opportunity, and put a “timestamp” on the close date. This collection of opportunities (ideally 3x the revenue goal) becomes pipeline.  

Mapping out marketing’s piece of the pipeline  

The percentage of the sales pipeline that marketing is responsible for varies depending on the industry, business model, overall sales and marketing strategy, and your organization's specific needs and goals. There is no one-size-fits-all answer. For example, suppose a company wanted to pilot a free trial along with an enterprise sales motion. In this case, the number of free trial signups and subsequent conversions of enterprise customers would be a marketing KPI linked to pipeline. 

Otherwise, let’s assume that marketing is responsible for 50% of pipeline, while sales, partners, outbound agencies, or even founders and investors are responsible for creating the other 50% through outbound and referral efforts. 

As a marketing leader, you’ll need to break out pipeline goals and forecast how your team will reach them. Here’s an example: 

  • Company annual revenue goal (for net-new business): $10 million
  • Quarterly revenue goal: $2.5 million
  • Pipeline goal: $40 million (annual) and $10 million (quarterly)
  • Marketing goal: $20 million (annual) and $5 million (quarterly)
  • If your ACV is $50,000, marketing must contribute approximately 400 net-new opportunities in a year or 100 per quarter. 

Once you have run your calculations, share those with your team to help them link their work to these goals. The point is, this isn’t just demand gen’s job; it’s your entire marketing team’s. 

Mapping a path to pipeline generation

Whether content writer, product marketer, demand gen leader, or event producer, everyone on your marketing team needs to understand the impact of their work on pipeline creation.

That doesn’t mean everything marketing creates should be only about getting a lead to take a demo. Rather, efforts should be designed to target ideal prospects, educate them about your product or solution, and get them to a point where they are willing to talk to sales.

Let’s take content marketing. The goal is to create content that attracts, educates, and engages potential customers until they are open to a demo. As a content marketer, you need to plan laterally and linearly, thinking about audience, distribution, repurposing for "remarketing", and forecast the expected outcomes (leads and conversions). 

Consider the following example of details you might map out in a marketing brief for a research report: 

New Benchmark Report
Why this report?
  • Appeals to your entire audience (end users and check writers)
  • You’ve created a gated landing page to capture leads, because this is a high-value asset
  • You create a multi-channel, multi-format campaign: video, blog post, webinar, PR etc.
Your forecasted goal
  • 400 net-new leads, 200 MQLs (net-new from new and existing leads), 50 net-new opportunities
  • Depending on your ACV (average contract value), that could be a solid piece of your pipeline
  • This is a 1-2x per year effort that can be spliced into many bits and remarketed to help you hit your goals

See how it works? If you can plan and forecast rigorously, your marketers have an outcome-driven north star to follow. 

Things to consider when planning how to generate pipeline 

We could dedicate many words to this topic, but for today, here are a few tips for connecting marketing to pipeline. 

Is this project worth doing? 

Ask each team member to project the amount of time this project will take (e.g., 20% of my time in February) and forecast success metrics as noted above (e.g., ten new opportunities/$500k in pipeline). Weigh the time and resources required and your team’s current workload against the potential value the initiative will drive.

Marketing teams are almost always getting pulled in too many directions, with too much to do and too few resources. Will it be worth it? Saying NO to most activities that aren’t connected to revenue is crucial. 

Will our audience care and act? 

Have your team members talked to their sales, product, and customer success counterparts about how to shape content and messaging around the pain points they hear from customers and the common objections they hear on sales calls? Have you mapped your product's features and capabilities to specific pain points? Will what you’re planning make it easier for a prospect to take the next step? Will it help them understand why your offering is better than your competitors? Will it help them visualize how quickly they will get value from you? 

Are you marketing to “shadow” deal influencers? 

Do you know how decisions get made at your prospects’ companies? Within a buying organization, you’ve got a champion, a check writer, a core user, and maybe a detractor, all of whom you typically have to educate about your product over the course of months. What gets a deal greenlighted or killed? Often, that’s a shadow influencer, such as IT or procurement. Make sure you proactively tackle any objections they have and study your win/loss analysis for clues. 

Have you accounted for "divergent" learning?

Divergent learning, in this sense, means that people absorb information and get answers differently: reading, listening, watching, or doing. Constantly re-market your efforts and repurpose and remix content for different channels to drive response and maximize the value of the assets you create.  

Your turn to lead

Marketing leaders must empower their teams by ensuring everyone understands the goals and carefully thinks through key actions. There are a few investments you should make to support your team: 

  • Invest in marketing attribution software: Identify what campaigns, assets, and channels bring in leads that create pipeline. This provides visibility into what campaigns, channels, and spend are working—from lead to close.
  • Make communication a priority: Sometimes, marketers feel so under the gun that they hunker down and fail to communicate about what they’re working on and why. Protect your team from time-wasting demands by proactively discussing project progress and supporting your team to do the same. 
  • Be stewards of the strategy: As part of your communication plan, you need to remind your GTM and executive teams of the strategy and that not everything will be an immediate win. I have seen CEOs naively killing channels, only to discover that their source of TOFU leads has dried up months later. As a leader, you need to stand firm and educate your colleagues while remaining accountable for ensuring the strategy works. 

Does your marketing team understand its role in pipeline generation? Trusted CMO is here to help. Reach out with your ideas, or let us know if you want to chat! 

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