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5 Essential Steps for Building a Successful Marketing Pipeline

Table Of Content

  • How the Marketing and the Sales Pipeline are Linked?
  • 5 Steps to Build a Reliable Sales and Marketing Pipeline
  • Identify Your Target Audience
  • Create Compelling Content
  • Find the Right Accounts
  • Outreach
  • Track and Analyze Key Metrics
  • Don’t Forget to Take Feedback From Sales

Sales teams cannot deny the contribution of marketing teams in generating revenue. The 2022 Revenue marketing B2B Benchmark Report even suggests that in 2022, 32% of marketing teams initiated 20-30% of the sales pipeline in their organizations.

But initiating sales is vastly different from generating consistent sales. The latter requires a dedicated marketing pipeline that brings in a constant supply of inbound leads.

This blog shows how you can generate a successful marketing pipeline, what it is, and how you can improve the marketing contribution to the sales pipeline. Let’s get straight to it.

How the Marketing and the Sales Pipeline are Linked?

The sales funnel traditionally consisted of 5 stages.

  • Awareness
  • Interest
  • Consideration
  • Evaluation
  • Purchase

Sales reps would reach out to leads and help them progress from one stage to the next.

But as information has become more readily available, customers have begun taking research into their own hands. A DemandGen report even suggests that B2B buyers spend 27% of their time researching online. Outbound lead generation has given way to inbound lead generation. And this has brought the focus back to marketing.

Sales-ready leads today first pass through three stages of the marketing funnel with the marketing team’s assistance. This includes:

  • Top of the funnel (TOFU) that includes the awareness and interest stage
  • Middle of the funnel (MOFU) that includes the desire and consideration stage
  • Bottom of the funnel (BOFU) that includes the evaluation stage before moving on to making a purchase

The progression through each stage results from various marketing activities that are part of the marketing pipeline generation process. This means that the number of leads and, therefore, sales depend on the pipeline’s efficiency.

Here’s how you build a steady and efficient marketing-generated pipeline.

5 Steps to Build a Reliable Sales and Marketing Pipeline

1. Identify Your Target Audience

Developing a marketing pipeline begins with effective marketing that caters to your target audience. So, identify your intended audience first.

Take a look at your historical data and competitors’ customers, and conduct market research. This will help you identify your target market. Now, segment it based on common characteristics and create an ideal customer profile.

This should include firmographic information like job designation and company profile, demographic information like age, geographical information like country, and psychographic information like purchase behavior, values, lifestyle, etc. Prospects that match this profile form your target audience.

Remember that a clearly defined target audience will help you generate the right type of content and choose the engagement methods necessary for conversion.

2. Create Compelling Content

Once you know your target audience, the next step is to create an inbound marketing pipeline to get their attention. For instance, if your target audience is active on LinkedIn, your marketing efforts should include LinkedIn posts, carousels, and engagement in LinkedIn groups. Alternatively, it could include creating a repository of content your prospect can refer to whenever required.

This step aims to generate interest for your brand through conversations and content marketing efforts. It is also to get cues about your prospect’s intent and decide which are worth pursuing.

3. Find the Right Accounts

A fraction of your prospects will show interest in your product after all of the above marketing-sourced pipeline efforts. They may submit their email address to access more content or spend more time on your product page to understand your product. On the other hand, some prospects may visit your page once and never think of it again. 

You need to choose which prospects are worth selling to and which can be pushed further down the sales funnel through nurturing. And for that, you need to score your leads.

So, look at your past sales efforts and note which traits and actions led to a successful sale. These will form your lead scoring criteria. Further, consult your sales team and assign scores to various prospect behaviors. Also, determine the threshold for sales qualification.

Once you do this, you can begin scoring your marketing-sourced leads. This ensures you only reach out to those leads who will more likely respond to your outreach. Bonus, it also helps you save on spending.

4. Outreach

Depending on the position of your lead in their sales journey, you should nurture them to become sales-ready leads. And for this, outreach efforts must be part of your marketing pipeline strategy.

If you have access to client emails and contacts in your CRM, you could start by initiating a drip campaign pushing your product. Or you could start a one-to-many campaign, wherein you reach out to multiple prospects using the same outbound sales approach and push them down the sales funnel in one go. This is the account-based marketing approach, and 96% of B2B marketers already have the strategies in place according to a new study.

You could also depend on outreach automation software like 17% other marketers as per the Marketing Mix Report, to help with outreach. The software can help you meet prospects on their preferred channel at an appropriate time with a personalized message designed to elicit action. Ultimately, it could lower the time spent on outreach efforts and help you push more qualified leads to sales.

5. Track and Analyze Key Metrics

Like it or not, your marketing pipeline doesn’t end with handing over leads to sales. It also involves bettering your marketing-generated pipeline over time and making it more efficient.

So, take a look at your marketing pipeline metrics. This includes:

  • ROI of lead sources or the revenue generated upon successfully converting a lead
  • Cost per opportunity or the number of leads that become paying customers and the costs that led to it
  • Customers closed or the total number of leads that converted to paying customers.

These will show you the effectiveness of your current pipeline and help you notice the areas for improvement. 

Don’t Forget to Take Feedback From Sales

While metrics can qualitatively show you the marketing-generated leads that converted to customers, they cannot show you the effort put in by the sales department to make a successful sale. Unless you communicate with sales, you’ll never know if your marketing pipeline is converting to sales.

So, conduct regular meetings with your sales team. Go over the approach, discuss lead generation and talk about conversions. Also, discuss the effectiveness of the pipeline strategy and work together to brainstorm solutions to pipeline issues. This is the only way to accelerate sales and boost conversions.