Has your sales pipeline process been struggling?

Your marketing and sales pipeline process should be mapped out with key sales conversation ratio at each stage. You have to measure this if you want to improve.

The good news is most of it can be designed as a workflow to help guide sales reps and marketers in the process.

It works in an innovative supply chain and in Six-sigma, now we can do the same for the whole revenue process. This is music to the board and CEO running organizations.

Only 13% of customers believe a sales person can understand their needs. Click To Tweet

What is the sales pipeline?

sales pipeline is a visual representation of sales prospects and where they are in the purchasing process. A sales pipeline is a representation of sales prospects and where they are in the pipeline stages. The sales pipeline also provides an overview of a sales rep’s account forecast and how close he/she is to making quota, as well as meeting the sales forecast.

If your sales pipeline process has been struggling to fulfill quotas you might be utilizing outdated tactics. Your sales pipeline process should be audited to find performance gaps.

Take a couple of minutes out of your day and watch our webinar: How to Build a Sales and Marketing Powerhouse. Delivered by George Schildge and Matrix Marketing Group.

 By the end you’ll have learned:

  • The cause for the shift in the modern buyer
  • Why you need to evolve the legacy sales process
  • A new method of selling to the modern buyer
  • Four (4) actionable steps you can take to reach and close the modern buyer 


Calculate your marketing leads forecast with this FREE marketing funnel calculator.

Rather Read about the sales pipeline process?

Download the full video and slide deck here and follow along with the transcription below.

I work at Matrix Marketing Group as managing director and I’ll be walking you through this presentation today. I love this topic.

We all know that sales and marketing have changed, and I’ve been arguing about it for the last 15 years. Now it’s time to make sure that our sales teams understand the new process.

First, a little bit about me. I was a former college professor in Colorado and New York. I’ve worked for corporations like IBM, Baan, and Sun Microsystems. In the winter I love to ski, and I’m a professional ski instructor, and in the summers I’m an avid mountain biker.

Today you’ll learn how to build a sales and marketing powerhouse. This webinar has been developed for CMOs, marketing directors, VP of Sales, and CEOs.

30-50% of sales go to the vendor that responds first. Click To Tweet

You should take some notes, but slides will be available for download when we wrap up. Everyone watching will take away at least two to three ideas that you can use immediately. We’ve got some great offers at the end of the webinar as well so let’s dive in.

What’s wrong with traditional marketing and sales process pipelines?

Your sales pipeline process is critical for sales success.

According to Adobe Digital, 66% of all marketers state companies won’t succeed unless they have a digital marketing approach and most marketers agree that marketing has a tangible value which can be measured.

Marketing has changed more in the last two years than it has in the past 50. Digital marketing approaches are typically in a constant cycle of trial and error.

So, what are the top goals for marketing and sales teams? What does your sales team really want? They want higher quality leads, end of the story.

Sales leads that have been nurtured before they’re handed off to the sales rep. To achieve those results you need a marketing attribution model that can help tune marketing campaigns and show the ROI.

Let’s take a look at where the gaps occur; there are three primary gaps. There’s a talent gap, a technology gap, and a strategy gap. All of which leads to the typical performance gap. Capgemini states that 90% of people lack digital skills to implement an effective digital strategy.

A simple example is to take a look at the technology gap in the marketing automation adoption rates.

Right now it’s a sixty percent adoption rate in companies with revenues over $500 million, then it drops to ten percent with revenues between $25 million and $500 million, and almost entirely tails off at five percent between $5 million and $20 million.

What does this mean? There’s a high output for these companies between $20 million and $500 million to leverage technology.

Finally, the strategy gap; it’s easy to get caught up in the next big thing like Snapchat, artificial intelligence, account based marketing, and inbound marketing, but these are all buzzwords and meaningless without a well-planned digital strategy that’ll help drive qualified leads.

The modern buying process

sales pipeline process
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So, let’s review how the modern buyer has shifted the sales process. The modern buyer has changed the way the sales process is curved forever. Have you ever purchased something online?

Your sales pipeline process is critical for sales success and must be mapped to how people buy.

Have you ever used social media to ask a question? Maybe on Facebook to a friend or on LinkedIn? Well, I sure have. In fact, I do it all the time.

Before the internet buyers were relatively uninformed, the buyer’s journey was pretty much a straight shot that was triggered when a customer recognized their need.

Why Sales Reps Spend Less Than 36% Of Time Selling (And Less Than 18% In CRM) Click To Tweet

The trigger can be random, and the buyer can conduct his or her own personal research. The standard wisdom is that sales are an art rather than a science which might be why so many great ideas have gone from the startup phase straight to the graveyard.

Building the next $100 million dollar business requires building a sales team that can get the job done reliably. Looking at the customer journey now 59% of B2B buy your site.

They don’t even want to interact with a sales representative as a primary source of research, and that’s according to Forrester. Here we see 57% of the traditional sales cycle is completed without any interaction with your company at all.

Traditional Sales Cycle
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What do you do? You’ve got to get in front of this 57% number while the customers are doing their due diligence and you can do that with content. The current industry trends and the analysis tell us that change is necessary.

Does your sales team know about this and does management understand these changes?

I speak to C-level executives who know that sales productivity is paramount to enabling a company to grow. However, they are still using the same outdated sales tactics to survive. In fact, 71% ranked it as the most critical importance.

It all starts with understanding who you’re trying to reach. We can see the whole picture as it relates to the customers buying cycle and the internal sales cycle (sales pipeline).

See how they’re correlated once I understand the customers buying cycle only then can I begin to align our sales process cycle. For example, if I’m going to target a buyer exploring we want to give them something that will help make an informed decision with content and context.

In other words, hit them with what matters to them at that specific time. It’s not until you understand this process that you can start to build out your digital marketing plan.

Start to think about the parameters that make up your ideal customer. Sure, you have to understand demographics, and psychographics, it’s all part of the process, but it goes beyond the typical persona. Use criteria like:

  • Employee size
  • Industry
  • Geography
  • Department size
  • Revenue
  • Job titles

Next, you’ve got to understand the individual’s job. What tasks are they trying to complete, what are their responsibilities? Let’s take manufacturing as an example. Are your inventory turns reducing WIP on the floor? You have to know what their job is and what they need to get done. 

After gaining an understanding move on to the customer pain points. These are anything that annoys your customers before, during, and after trying to get a project done. You need to figure out these for your target markets.

Finally, customer gains are described as outcomes and benefits for your customers and what they want. These can include items like a utility, social games, career growth, or cost savings.

This is where you begin to build out your product offerings. Now it’s a customer profile that describes a particular customer segment in your business model. In a more structured and detailed way, it breaks the customer down into the job pains and gains.

Sales and marketing alignment and the sales pipeline process

marketing and sales pipeline process
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Face it, there’s friction between the sales and marketing teams. It’s human nature, but it must be addressed. Sales and marketing alignment typically impact enterprise organizations.

However, I’ve seen it in all sizes. Sometimes it’s like sales and marketing teams are from Venus and Mars and it’s this friction that is caused either by economics, culture, or both. Next, understand your target markets. Know their buying cycle that’s critical. Do your sales reps have a systematic approach to selling?

When I used to be a product manager I learned that it would save time and money if I consulted my colleagues on the manufacturing shop floor rather than just throwing over new designs.

It wasn’t enough just to coexist, not when we could work together to create value for the company. More importantly for our customers, it provided increased value. You would think that the marketing and sales teams work so closely and they’re so interconnected they would discover this as well.

It’s important to build a feedback loop to see how you’re doing, where the bottlenecks occur, and then correct them. It’ll reduce your sales cycle and get your teams on the same page. When the buying cycle aligns with your sales cycle, you’ll see reduced time to sale and higher closed ratios.

When we review the sales pipeline for these three different sized companies, and they’re all selling in the same industry we can see a simple sales cycle for the enterprise, midsize, and small businesses. 

Funnel Performance
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The mid-market group generated 8,000 leads that were passed over to sales in Q1, 6% of those leads had converted customers for a total of 480 customers. The average annual deal size for each client was $175,000.

With this conversion data we can start to optimize the stages, but let’s look at the small business leads and specifically pick at the leads to customer ratio. Looks pretty good right? Not so fast here, we might be waiting too long to contact these leads.

This theory can be tested, get in front of the leads early and see what happens. Do your leads to close ratio increase? If I do that and see a 5% bump on leads to sales ratio, I’ve added 550 more customers. With $22 million of incremental revenue, it’s not bad for a simple change right?

Make your website your best sales rep.

build sales pipeline
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If we switch gears slightly, is your website tuned with keyword strategy and what’s the last time you completed a redesign? What is the goal of your site? Is it branding, e-commerce, educating customers, or lead generation? When was the last time you did a website audit?

Google is changing its search algorithm frequently, and you should know how it impacts your site. Most people don’t have any idea about how their website is performing. A typical website is static, and they’re built on platforms like Drupal and WordPress but did you know that you can develop a website that changes depending on your user’s makeup?

These are called dynamic websites and they present content based on each particular user group. It doesn’t have to be based on buyer persona either; you can use criteria like where they are in the buying cycle, or location if you have multiple physical stores.

Even more important is utilizing a responsive website design platform that automatically optimizes for visitors from any device. Responsive design is automatically optimized for mobile and has SEO built-in.

Tune your website with SEO get your keywords in there put them in your header, title tag, meta description, and alt tags. Design your website to funnel people to your highest converting web pages. You
can find the top converting web pages by setting up goals in Google Analytics.

Content Marketing Works

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I love Hotjar; it’s an excellent tool to evaluate the user’s experience. I’m sure you’ve heard the term before “inbound marketing” it’s a marketing tactic to help buyers find you digitally.

Would it be nice if people searching for help could find you with content that answers their questions? Without ever having to speak to them before they’re ready to buy? That’s the power of inbound marketing.

Get your sales reps involved in the process upfront and ask them what the typical questions that they get from their prospects are? Where is the bottleneck in the sales pipeline?

Look for common themes and topics to develop a keyword strategy that maps to those words. This is what your audience uses so you can write with those in mind. We’re all busy, but you’ve got to find the time to get at least two blogs out per week, and you need to create a content production process.

Buyer's Journey
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It’s crucial to develop content that your audience is willing to pay for. To be good at this, you’ve got to think like a journalist. I use a content key that is really an editorial framework that splits into three categories. I call it the head, the heart, and the hands.

The head is thought leadership content, the heart is innovation strides, and customer stories and the hands are functional pieces like how-to articles. It’s a simple way for me to remember the guiding principles behind our content creation.

A strong editorial mission explains who you’re trying to reach and how to serve them with content. These include who are you as a company, who you’re working to reach, how are you going to reach them, and what do you want to accomplish when you do reach them.

Don’t let it get too complicated at the beginning use a simplistic buyers journey and write content that aligns perfectly.

Think of it this way, if you want to lose 10 pounds, you work out hard, you diet for a month, then you meet your goal. Boom 10 pounds are gone. You stop doing that routine. The same reaction applies here, don’t expect it to happen overnight and it’s a commitment that will pay off.

Companies that publish 16+ blog posts per month got almost 3.5 times more traffic than companies that publish zero to four a month. Here’s a representation of an uncomplicated buyer journey.

Once I understand my buyer’s journey, I can begin to develop marketing content to help generate new leads and nurture leads in my sales pipeline.

I use things like prescriptive content, thought leadership content, and some brand or product content.

Building out this slide set, I wanted to make sure that what I was saying was true so I went to Google and typed in “why hire marketing agency” and just to see what came up we’re number two on that page. Content works.

Find an agency
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digital marketing agency
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Matrix Marketing Group

So, now you’ve got your content, you’re starting to generate an editorial calendar, you need to amplify your message. You know where your customers are consuming information about your industry solutions to solve their issues and what publications – both in print and online – are they reading. The sales pipeline process will require different content depending on where the buyer is in the cycle.

Which top influencers do the sales team know? Does an outbound strategy still work? Be very careful here personalized emails are best, and we see about a 20 percent increase in response rates with this method. What is your reach today and how do you grow it for sales leads?

By developing content your audience wants and by using landing pages to capture their information. I recommend if you’re just starting out try some PPC or pay-per-click campaigns and be sure to use negative keywords, so you’re not getting people clicking on it that aren’t relevant.

There are over 7,000 plus technology platforms for sales and marketing this slide comes from marketing technology guru Scott Brinker.

219 martech slide
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I know this slide can be a little overwhelming and not all technology applies to every specific business. However, you’ve got to prioritize a technology rollout if you’re going to employ a digital marketing strategy. Not only will you save time but you’ll align your offerings with your buyers. Most importantly you begin to boost sales and shorten your sales cycles and build your sales pipeline.

It’s time to take a look at analytics and reporting. Set up smart marketing goals. Also, be sure to do that for your sales pipeline as well. You can visit our resource page and grab some free templates if you aren’t sure where to start.

After goals are in place, develop a marketing attribution model. Gather and analyze your data from your sales pipeline and marketing attribution model and review what marketing channels and programs are working.

The sales pipeline process is easily monitored and analyzed to find a bottleneck in the process.

Even more importantly, attribution tells us which marketing efforts are not working. Test and tune your marketing programs, so you’re getting the biggest bang for the buck.

My day starts here in the marketing dashboard

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Here I can look for gaps and see if the sales pipeline process could be improved.

These are some of the regular reports I use every day, and it’s right at my fingertips. At Matrix, we use HubSpot, Keap, and ActiveCampaign to help build our sales pipeline, and we have it set up to send daily snapshots as well as detailed reports automatically.

When you combine and align sales, marketing, and technology magic begins to happen. Strangers become leads, leads become customers, and your business grows.

Create a Proven SEO Strategy in 3-Months

Learn what is an SEO strategy? How do I create an SEO plan? And how do I implement an SEO strategy?

I hope that you’ve taken away two to three ideas from this webinar. You can begin by evaluating your client’s buying cycle, and align it with your internal sales cycle.

Then develop your content marketing plan, and get an independent marketing assessment as well. Thank you for watching and anybody that’s interested, we’re offering a free website audit as well as a comprehensive free marketing assessment.

There’s nothing to lose; it’s all free.

We’re listening to what you have to say about the sales pipeline process

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General FAQ’s

What is the pipeline in sales?

A†sales pipeline†is a representation of†sales†prospects and where they are in the pipeline stages.†The sales pipeline also provides†an overview of a†sales†rep’s account forecast and how close he/she is to making quota, as well as meeting the sales forecast.

Why is the sales pipeline critical?

A†sales pipeline†mostly focuses on the beginning stages of a potential lead. It helps business owners review the number of leads they generate in a specific time frame, state of purchase, source of lead, and ultimately emphasize quality over quantity.

How many prospects do I need in my sales pipeline?

Here is how to calculate your†sales pipeline†coverage ratio. The average sale takes about 90 days to close, and your close rate is 25%, then the†sales pipeline†coverage ratio is 4:1. The opportunities in the†pipeline are†four times the expected†sales†forecast to reach the†sales†quota in a period.

How to build sales pipeline.

How to build†a†sales pipeline†in 6 steps
1. Identify your ideal customer profile and target market.
2. Spot your target companies/target accounts.
3. Find internal contacts and do research.
4. Reach out to your internal contacts.
5. Segment and nurture your†pipeline.
6. Move Your SQLs Further Down the Funnel/Book Demos.

Why you need†sales pipeline reports?

A†sales pipeline†is a systematic approach to†sales, where you have a†sales†funnel that is divided into different†sales†stages.


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