Can you predict lead flow? Do you know how many leads you need to hit revenue targets?
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.
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 in order to deliver consistent and predictable results.
Pipeline Intelligence is an AI-powered solution that provides full visibility into the buyer’s journey and gives your organization a much clearer picture of how buyers are progressing through your pipeline.
With Pipeline Intelligence your teams will have:
Here’s a look at the many issues that can be solved with better Pipeline Intelligence:
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.
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:
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.
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:
These activities are normally anonymous, ut, 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.
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.
A visual breakdown of the number of accounts in each buying stage within 6sense.
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 can combine to provide a winning experience at each step.
The types of activities that will happen in this stage include:
How to provide a winning experience in this stage:
In this stage, buyers will be:
How to win this stage:
In this stage, buyers will be:
How to win this stage:
In this stage, buyers will be:
How to win this stage:
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.
Pipeline Intelligence is an AI-powered solution that takes the guesswork out of pipeline planning and forecasting — and puts CMOs in control of their destiny.
Pipeline Intelligence helps marketers drive a targeted demand generation strategy, hit growth and revenue goals, monitor pipeline health, and take quick, decisive action when problems arise.
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.
Pipeline Intelligence helps marketers build accurate, defensible pipeline plans based on actual conversion rates and sales cycles.
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.
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:
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
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.
AI finds the most important signals to make accurate projections based on real-time data. When you leverage AI for your pipeline management you are reducing the need for manual processes while improving the efficiency of everything you do.
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.
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.
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 will not 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 lets your marketing team forecast and track pipeline coverage for current and future quarters for every channel and segment.
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.
Pipeline Intelligence breaks down those silos to provide increased visibility into your marketing pipeline.
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.
Your teams need to make quick decisions and having real-time pipeline data is crucial for their planning and forecasting.
Pipeline Intelligence makes it easy for your teams to quickly view their data. By consolidating information across CDPs, MAPs, and CRMs, Pipeline Intelligence removes the need to check multiple systems.
The dashboard of 6sense’s Pipeline Intelligence tool.
Pipeline Intelligence takes 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 accurate forecasting produces better engagement.
The most stressful situation for any marketing team is when a gap forms in your pipeline. Shortfalls tend to kick off a flurry of activity, but the problem can become compounding. As your teams scramble to build new campaigns, they have to abandon established plans for future quarters, which can then in turn cause a shortage in the future.
Pipeline Intelligence helps marketing teams avoid this vicious cycle by giving them real-time insights into when there’s a pipeline gap and providing suggested courses of action to rectify the shortfall.
Pipeline Intelligence will alert you to any gaps that are appearing across segments, products, or sources.
If your team expects to drive a certain amount of opportunities or revenue through your digital advertising campaigns, Pipeline Intelligence will let you know if your forecasts don’t align with that goal.
With that knowledge, your digital advertising team can evaluate their strategies and make adjustments to get back on track. The best news? This can happen in real-time. No waiting for a post-mortem after the quarter to try and figure out what happened. You can identify and resolve a problem in the same quarter.
When a gap is noticed in the marketing pipeline, it means it’s time to try something new. Your everyday activities aren’t making enough impact. But, they’re still important so you can’t take too much time or resources away from day-to-day life for your team.
Pipeline Intelligence automatically identifies new segments that can be created within minutes and are pre-qualified — meaning they’re more likely to engage and fill your pipeline gaps.
Pipeline Intelligence can also help your teams build out campaigns targeted at the accounts.
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 leadflow, 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.
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 of course 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.
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…
… 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.
Pipeline contribution numbers within Pipeline Intelligence
When there’s a shortage in the pipeline, Pipeline Intelligence let’s marketing take control rather than rely on an all-out blitz from sales.
Recommended actions from Pipeline Intelligence gives marketing the power to:
With all of that at their fingertips, marketing has the ability to deepen engagement and move opportunities further into the sales funnel. Instead of looking toward next quarter for solutions, marketing can save the day in real-time.
Pipeline accuracy is crucial because it’s the best measure of your company’s performance and outlook for the future.
Pipeline Intelligence takes the guesswork out of the marketing pipeline and brings full alignment to the buyer’s journey.
With Pipeline Intelligence your teams:
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.