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The Guide to Pipeline Intelligence

This guide explains how to extend pipeline intelligence to the very beginning of your marketing funnel to engage more buyers, generate predictable revenue, and demonstrate the impact of your efforts.



Chapter 1


Chapter 2

Aligning Pipeline to the Buyer’s Journey

Chapter 3

How AI Helps You Hit Marketing Pipeline Goals

Chapter 4

How Pipeline Intelligence Helps Align Teams

Chapter 5


Table of Contents

Chapter 1


Your revenue pipeline is the lifeline of your business. Knowing whether your pipeline is strong or weak lets you know whether it is time to grow or contract your business.

Knowing where your pipeline is weak enables you to fix issues and capture more deals.

Knowing why your pipeline is hitting or missing targets allows you to double down on, revise or eliminate efforts.

Unfortunately, many companies struggle to manage their pipeline to deliver consistent and predictable results.

Pipeline intelligence strategies provide your organization a clearer picture of how buyers are progressing through your pipeline.

With a strong pipeline intelligence strategy, your teams will have:

  • A better understanding of the activities your buyers engage in at every step of their journey
  • Real-time pipeline forecasts that lead to more accurate revenue projections
  • The ability to find gaps where you can make a big impact

Here’s a look at the many issues that can be solved with better pipeline intelligence:

Chapter 2

Aligning Pipeline to the Buyer’s Journey

Ideally, as soon as a potential customer starts expressing interest in the products or services you offer, they would appear on your radar. But that’s not usually what happens for B2B companies.

Why Most B2B Revenue Pipelines Are Fundamentally Broken

Today’s buyers make it difficult for organizations to achieve the ideal state of aligning their pipeline with the buying journey. Roughly 70% of the buying journey is done anonymously. Buyers are purposefully avoiding filling out forms or reaching out to sales until they’ve done enough research to feel comfortable starting a dialogue.

When a buyer has already completed over two-thirds of their journey before they raise their hand, your funnel will be misaligned with their actual buying journey.

That hurts your ability to win deals in three big ways:

  • You miss the opportunity to influence the buying journey in its early stages
  • You communication cadence is off, with the info you deliver misaligned to the buying stage
  • You struggle to anticipate revenue based on the number of accounts doing research, how they are progressing in their buying journeys, and how you are influencing that progress

The only way to overcome those challenges — and fully align your pipeline and the buyer’s journey — is to uncover the previously-hidden activities buyers perform during their initial stages.

How Intent Data Reveals the Full Buyer Journey

To find buyers who have entered the awareness stage of their journey, you need the right technology.

When buyers are really just beginning to understand their problems and seek out their options they’re:

  • Searching topics related to their pain points and your industry
  • Reading third-party reviews and industry sites for information
  • Possibly visiting different pages on your website

These activities are normally anonymous, but if you can pick up on those signals, you suddenly uncover buyers much earlier in the journey and increase your chances of winning the deal. We call this shining a light on the Dark Funnel™.

When you’ve started to uncover the anonymous activities your buyers are performing early in their search, you will be able to align both marketing and sales activities to the stages of their journeys.

Fill Your Pipeline with In-Market and Engaged Buyers

Uncovering hidden intent signals solves one of the hardest challenges of modern selling: targeting only accounts that are in-market and interested in buying.

Most companies create an ideal customer profile (ICP) and use it to build a list of accounts to target. But an ICP can’t determine if that account is actively looking for a solution. An in-market ideal customer profile (IICP) takes your ICP one step further by only focusing on the accounts that have begun a buying journey.

The IICP will take into account:

By focusing on IICP your organization will be more efficient with resources and effective with engagement at the same time. You’ve reduced the money and effort spent reaching accounts that won’t be receptive to outreach, while increasing the chances that your engagement will move the needle with interested accounts.

How Intent Data and AI Can Influence Each Buying Journey Stage

As people progress through their buying journey, their questions change. If you can time your messages to the correct buying stage, you can deliver a much better experience, establish authority, and win trust. Here are the various stages of the buyer’s journey and how intent data and AI marketing software can combine to provide a winning experience at each step.


The types of activities that will happen in this stage include:

  • Broad searches on the internet related to the pain points a buyer is facing
  • Visiting different industry websites to learn more about the vendors in the field
  • Reading top-of-funnel content like blogs to understand the nuances of the topic

How to provide a winning experience in this stage:

  • Serve up targeted ad campaigns for top-of-funnel content
  • Create personalized web pages that focus on the pain points you solve relevant to the searches your buyer is performing


In this stage, buyers will be:

  • Visiting your site and doing more in-depth research on your product
  • Searching for topics more focused on the solutions they’re considering
  • Visiting trusted third-party sites to read reviews

How to win this stage:

  • Launch conversational email campaigns powered by AI
  • Create targeted ads with middle-of-funnel content that show up in the places most relevant to your buyer
  • Create personalized web pages that target the buyer’s industry or title


In this stage, buyers will be:

  • Raising their hands after feeling confident in their initial research
  • Ready for in-depth conversations and demos
  • Engaging with sales on a regular basis

How to win this stage:

  • Uncover the entire buying team, and enroll new contacts in campaigns to drive engagement
  • Provide sales with data about the activities the buyer has been performing
  • Direct buyers to pages that serve case studies relevant to the buyer’s needs


In this stage, buyers will be:

  • Selecting between a handful of vendors
  • Test driving proofs of concept
  • Meeting with the entire buying committee
  • Making business cases to stakeholders

How to win this stage:

  • Serve content that highlights ROI and business impact
  • Engage the entire buying team

Chapter 3

The Foundations of Marketing Pipeline

Gaining an accurate, real-time picture of your marketing pipeline has traditionally been very difficult due to disconnected data, inconsistent processes, and a lack of resources. This is in stark contrast to the sales pipeline which comes with a formal process for managing and tracking opportunities from open to close.

But marketing needs accurate pipeline insights just as much as sales. In a 6sense survey of marketing leaders, 88% of CMOs cite pipeline or closed won business as their most important metric.

More Accurate Marketing Planning

The first step to creating a strong pipeline management strategy is to begin with a plan based on actual data. If your pipeline targets are based on guesses and arbitrary data points, your marketing team won’t be able to build campaigns that move the needle and capture a buyer’s attention.

Leverage tools that provide clear insights to your performance across past opportunities. By having a clear picture of your strengths and weaknesses, you can build better forecasts and targets. 

Why Marketers Struggle with Pipeline Accuracy

Marketers have historically struggled with pipeline accuracy due to buyers’ desire to stay hidden as long as possible, as well as shortcomings with internal data.

Anonymity is an obvious challenge because it makes it much harder to target the most available audiences.

But internal data disconnects can be just as pernicious.

Anonymous Buyer’s Journey Obfuscates the Pipeline

While buyers are searching for topics related to your services, visiting third-party industry sites, or visiting your website, your teams are unaware that a key account has begun the buying process.

Without that knowledge, the marketing pipeline becomes inaccurate. Instead of tracking an account in the early awareness stage of their journey, marketing has to wait for a form-fill or other hand-raising activity to discover and qualify the opportunity.

This disconnect creates several problems:

  • You can’t focus your efforts on accounts that are in-market because you don’t know who they are
  • You can’t focus your messaging on buying stage because you do not know where the buyer is in their journey
  • You can’t personalize your messaging

The Problem with MQLs

In spite of the challenges marketers face, they do manage to collect a lot of data about prospects — especially after those prospects fill out a form. Once they are no longer anonymous, you may be able to track

  • Which emails they have opened and clicked
  • Which pages they have visited
  • Which eBooks they have downloaded
  • Which questions they have asked your chatbot

But until a sales rep gets involved, it can be hard to determine which MQLs represent likely revenue and which leads represent detritus.

The marketing team might qualify a lead who downloaded an eBook only for sales to follow-up and find no real opportunity. This leads to the ugly question that will make a marketer’s skin crawl: Just how much revenue are you actually contributing?

For the marketing pipeline to be as trustworthy as the sales pipeline, marketing needs tools that capture more data about the value of the leads they generate, and more power to predict how their actions are influencing growth.

Consolidated Data Leads to Accessible Insights

Artificial intelligence removes the need to hunt through multiple systems for all of the data you need for planning and forecasting. Instead of referencing 15 different spreadsheet tabs, an integrated AI-powered platform will consolidate your most important data and serve up the insights you need in one central place.

The Power of Pattern Recognition

Your company has closed a lot of deals, been involved in hundreds of opportunities, and engaged with thousands of buyers. All of that historical context adds up to statistically significant data that can help uncover the best opportunities.

Artificial intelligence ingests all of your company’s historical data and starts to learn the commonalities between your successes. Over time the AI becomes smarter and better at recognizing those patterns, leading to more accurate planning and forecasting.

Real-time Visibility into the Marketing Pipeline

A marketing pipeline is not static. It is constantly shifting and changing as buyers perform different actions and move from one stage to the next. The pipeline numbers you pull today won’t look like the ones you pull tomorrow.

That’s a big problem if you treat the pipeline as your north star like a majority of marketing teams now do. Relying on manual report pulling or processes to check your pipeline metrics will result in significant lag time between the activity of your accounts and the actions you take to influence them. And lag time is where deals die.

Pipeline Intelligence Breaks Down Data Silos

Marketing, sales, and operations each have their own systems, data, and reporting processes. It’s easy for data silos to form and make reporting even more difficult.

A robust pipeline intelligence strategy breaks down those silos to provide increased visibility into your marketing pipeline.

Data Silos Impede Analysis and Delay Action

Data silos cause inconsistent data, wasted effort, and error-riddled analysis.

When your marketing team is trying to check pipeline metrics but doesn’t know if they should log into Salesforce, HubSpot or ask operations to hop into Tableau, that’s going to cause costly delays.

Those delays not only limit your insights on where your team currently stands in relation to your goals, they slow the team’s ability to take corrective actions in the case of a pipeline gap.

Real-Time Access to Crucial Data

Your teams need to make quick decisions and having real-time pipeline data is crucial for their planning and forecasting. Use platforms that sync your multiple technologies and act as a single source of truth so that sales and marketing are always on the same page. 

How Pipeline Intelligence Improves Forecasting for Marketing

Pipeline intelligence strategies take the guesswork out of forecasting by tracking pipeline KPIs by source, using AI models, real-time data, and historical performance.

A marketing team that can confidently forecast its impact by segment, source, and channel throughout the year will have:

  • More focused engagements, like advertising campaigns that find the right buyer in the right place at the right time
  • Increased awareness of the total number of engaged accounts
  • More visibility into buying stages and the accounts in each stage
  • Visibility into which GTM channels are making the most impact

More accurate forecasting produces better engagement.

Chapter 4

How Pipeline Intelligence Helps Align Teams

We’ve talked about how pipeline intelligence helps solve a lot of the problems inherent to a marketing pipeline. But sellers also pay the price when a marketing pipeline is inaccurate and unreliable.

Bad leads. Dry pipelines.

Without predictable, high-quality lead flow, sales and marketing are often reduced to warring factions.

The end of the quarter becomes focused on trying to determine who drove what lead and who should get credit for a deal closing. Each team brings a different set of data to prove their case. The scramble for credit (or to assign blame), erodes teamwork.

Pipeline intelligence solves this problem by nipping it in the bud with full visibility into the buying journey, shifting the focus to revenue opportunities, and providing insights into the actions that influenced the deal from the very beginning of the buying journey to the end.

Shifting from Leads to Opportunities

The traditional thinking around marketing and sales goes something like: marketing focuses on driving leads, and once the leads are warm enough they’re tossed over the fence to sales who wait like a hungry dog for a bone.

That leads to problems when a deal closes. Sales feels like they did the hard work of pushing the deal through the final stages, while marketing wants credit for identifying and capturing the buyer in the first place.

With pipeline intelligence there’s no need to worry about leads vs. opportunities. Marketing has access to real-time information about the entire opportunity at all times and can work with sales to deliver insightful engagements tailored for that exact moment.

Marketing also unlocks predicted deal size and likelihood to close much earlier in the process, helping to showcase value and deliver stronger opportunities to sales.

Credit Where Credit is Due

Complete visibility into the entire revenue pipeline — both the marketing portion and the sales portion — removes the need for end of quarter brawls over who influenced which deal the most.

Insights also help teams better support one another’s efforts.

When marketing can see…

  • The webpages a buyer interacted with
  • The ad campaigns they viewed and engaged with
  • The content they read throughout their journey
  • The likely revenue value each account represents in the pipeline

… all of that information also helps sales prioritize outreach and have better conversations.

And when both teams can see how much different actions influenced deals, they can double down on what’s working and also work together to build new strategies based on new insights.

Chapter 5


Pipeline accuracy is crucial because it’s the best measure of your company’s performance and outlook for the future.

Sound pipeline intelligence helps your teams:

  • Have a clear picture of where buyers are in their journey
  • Uncover accounts earlier in the process
  • Breakdown data silos between different teams
  • Work together as one team focused on the same opportunities
  • Identify gaps in the pipeline as soon as they appear
  • Take decisive action to get back on track in real-time

Pipeline intelligence is the answer to any pipeline woes and keeps your teams fully aligned.


Account Based Marketing (ABM): A strategy that focuses on driving engagement within certain target accounts, rather than casting a wide net to generate leads from as many sources as possible.

Customer Data Platform (CDP): A platform that captures all of the interactions you have with your customer. The CDP consolidates data from your other platforms and serves as a central source of truth for customer data.

Customer Relationship Management System (CRM): A technology that logs engagement with prospects and customers, like sales calls or presentations. Many organizations use a CRM to track deals from open to close.

Dark Funnel™: The portion of the buyer’s journey that happens anonymously, such as visiting pages on your website, searching for topics related to your products on the wider internet, or visiting third-party review sites.

Ideal Customer Profile (ICP): A set of criteria and characteristics of a buyer that make them a good fit for your business.

In-Market Ideal Customer Profile (IICP): Buyers that fit your ideal profile but are also currently in-market for a solution.

Marketing Automation Platform (MAP): A technology used by marketers to create and send emails, schedule social posts, create marketing lists, track website traffic, and capture lead information.

Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL): A lead who has performed enough activities to be considered an opportunity. Typically organizations will hand MQLs over to sales who will then work the lead and attempt to qualify further.

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The 6sense Team