Edition 1: Pipeline: The Heartbeat of Revenue Growth

E1 Feature Image_ top-view-office-desk-with-growth-chart-glasses

Executives like ourselves face an unprecedented mix of world events, inflation, fluctuating markets, and more. It’s safe to say that it’s pretty chaotic.

But even with the turmoil in the world around us, we share similar worries and stress points. It all comes down to putting our best foot forward and continuing to grow. Our operating rhythm is like the heartbeat of our business. Ups and downs are expected, but we won’t be able to stay afloat if your revenue generation flatlines.

The heartbeat of our pipeline is a direct reflection of how much money your business is making. Your pipeline is a snapshot of your success. If new opportunities aren’t entering the pipeline and old leads aren’t moving along, the business will not survive much longer.

But how do you maintain a healthy pipeline? You can assess the health of a business by the pipeline’s quality and quantity. The question then becomes, how much pipeline do I need to hit my numbers? The short answer– it all depends. There are many things to consider, such as your close rate, sales velocity, cycle, etc.

What is enough?

As executives, we have a general idea of the amount of standing pipeline needed in the coffers to reach our revenue goals.

When I asked my LinkedIn community what they strived for their quarterly pipeline coverage to be, the results were clear. About half of them (49%) were aiming for coverage of 4x or more of their sales quota for the quarter.

While there’s no one-size-fits-all pipeline-coverage approach, it’s evident that solely relying on the standard of “3x your sales quota” isn’t going to cut it anymore. That doesn’t mean we should allow sales reps to load fictitious prospect data into our CRM system that will never come to fruition. You’ll need accurate, relevant data housed in a sales intelligence platform.

Simply having the data isn’t enough; if your sales leaders aren’t capitalizing on your data to collaborate and coach their reps properly, you’ll still be losing out.

Your teams need to know how to work together and methodically use their pipeline to close more deals.

The Remedy

To remedy this, you should define and set specific expectations around behaviors. Simply instructing your team to maintain a certain amount of pipeline coverage doesn’t offer much guidance to them. Instead, provide them with actionable tasks to complete to continue generating new opportunities.

“Your pipeline is a snapshot of your success. If new opportunities aren’t entering the pipeline and if old leads aren’t moving along, your business is  not going to survive for much longer.”

In Go-To-Market (GTM) teams, a successful and healthy pipeline requires every team that touches or influences revenue to function in sync.

Marketing Teams

Marketing plays a significant role in helping build your pipeline through a mixture of brand, inbound, and demand-generation strategies. To make an impact, your marketing teams need to focus their energies on understanding the target audience and having a process in place to obtain and filter leads., Marketing should leverage the tools and technologies available to predict and generate leads better. Investing in a combination of strategies increases the team’s chance of success, resulting in more fuel for your pipeline.

Sales Teams

Sales teams should work closely with marketing to identify audiences highly likely to convert and that fit within your ideal customer profile. Your team should ensure they accurately forecast to drive predictable revenue. Most SaaS AEs need about 2-5 deals per month, so you need to focus on what’s closing quickly, not spend a disproportionate amount of time on deals that are clearly in the distant future. Also, don’t forget your closed lost or “not now” deals. Successful sales teams never lose a deal forever – they remember why they lost and reach out to prospects when old issues are resolved. Also, if you have supportive leadership, get them involved in the deals. It takes a village! Ensure that SDRs/BDRs are continuously trained and coached, equipping them with the right messaging to close deals.

Customer Success Teams

When budgets are tight and winning new business is increasingly complex, the secret is to focus on your customers and make them successful. No wonder investors are looking for NRR (Net Retention Rate) as a new growth metric. Have the Customer Success team involved in the sales process – you want to let the prospect know they’ll receive ample support from you. Additionally, invest in robust onboarding with the customer and their teams, establishing a feedback loop. If Customer Success is working with the customer for future enhancements, the customer becomes invested, and it’s easier to upsell. Revenue-wise, account managers should forecast cross-sell and upsell opportunities as their contribution to the bigger net new revenue picture.

RevOps Teams

RevOps teams must have visibility into all of these individual forecasts and the entire revenue prediction at any given time to ensure they’re making the suitable investments to achieve your company’s strategic initiatives. My advice? Invest in RevOps early, as it pays off dividends. RevOps should be your independent team reporting all GTM numbers and metrics. They should collaborate with GTM leaders and define dashboards for individual teams, directors, and exec teams. This avoids excessive Excel spreadsheet reporting and disparate numbers and instead brings further alignment.

Product Teams:

The Product Team often doesn’t get a seat at the GTM table, which I think is a mistake. Product is an integral part of your GTM team. Be sure to get the leaders of your Product Team involved and up-to-date. I recommend defining your GTM strategy with your product leader and getting their buy-in. After all, what are your marketing teams going to market, and what will sellers sell if there is no product? Collaboratively define a process for a feedback loop with all functions of GTM teams and product (i.e., between sales + product, marketing + product, customer success + product) to ensure the best solution is delivered.

Sparking a New Rhythm

Developing processes and setting new definitions will enable powerful collaboration among your go-to-market teams and stakeholders. This can spark and revive an otherwise stagnated pipeline, bringing it back to life.

There are so many things that go into driving your revenue. And there’s a lot of pressure on revenue leaders to keep up with the latest trends and techniques –  even though the B2B landscape is constantly changing, and best practices are only good for so long.

This series is dedicated to providing revenue leaders with a one-stop shop for proven best practices and industry knowledge from experienced B2B practitioners. I look forward to sharing this content with you. Be sure to subscribe to Empower, so you’re the first to know when a new edition is released.