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Connecting Marketing to Sales: The B2B Pipeline Challenge

B2B Marketing

B2B marketers across industries have one fundamental goal in common: ensuring their sales team has a surplus of qualified leads to draw on to meet their goals. If marketing isn’t generating leads, sales can’t sell . . . and that means something needs to change.

Unfortunately, the process of delivering promising leads gets more and more complicated every year. Marketing methods are evolving and changing rapidly, and the proliferation of channels has created a complex web of touchpoints. According to a recent study from B2B online, Online Marketing: The Next Frontier of Email, Display, Search & Social, more than six out of every ten B2B marketers (63 percent) find it difficult to meet the demands of the sales pipeline with their current set of approaches.

Many of the challenges B2B marketers face involve qualifying leads in the digital era, and then tracking the effectiveness of digital campaigns. They’re having trouble with:

Tracking marketing campaigns

Many marketing pros aren’t effectively tracking and quantifying results for digital campaigns. Many marketing pros are tracking certain metrics, but they’re not getting closer to effective measurement. What are the right metrics to track? What does success look like? Which leads are converting? Where are the high-performers?

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Not having enough qualified leads

Success requires quality, not quantity. But some digital marketing methods are still in beta, Long sales cycles and disparate systems, lacking integration across channels makes it difficult for marketers to identify leads that will actually convert. Improved segmentation can help, and you’ll need to adapt lead scoring processes to today’s digital channels, as well.

Sales acceptance of leads

The conversion of marketing qualified leads to sales accepted leads is decreasing in the wake of new digital methods—especially for social media marketers. New definitions may be required and agreed upon, as sales and marketing both re-think what makes a lead valuable.

Less interaction between buyers and sales representatives.

Buyers have less contact with sales representatives than ever before, and they’re paying more attention to recommendations and referrals from their online networks. If sales can’t get a foot in the door—and credibility with their targets—it’s likely they won’t make their numbers. In fact, now B2B marketers don’t even engage with sales until leads are 57% of the way through the purchase process.

Connecting Marketing to Sales: The B2B Pipeline Challenge image Marketing Leadership Council

Source: Marketing Leadership Council research

But, can marketers leverage this online trend to their advantage? What information can be gleaned from online conversations, and can this data be integrated into the pipeline?

B2B marketers are passionate about the possibilities of digital channels, but unless these channels start filling the pipeline, the advantages digital channels offer and if they can find a solution that supports their goals, sales will get on board as well.

Comments on this Article: 3

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  1. Nice way to take a step back and look at the big picture as well as emphasizing the fact that buyers are “paying more attention to recommendations and referrals from their online networks”. You have a new twitter follower.

  2. Attribution can be difficult not just because of multiple campaigns, but also because purchasing decisions seem to be made by teams, where several people gather information, and the decision maker doesn’t appear until late in the process, and is not obviously connected to the people gathering information.

  3. Christy Ferguson says:

    Thank you for the feedback. I agree, attribution can be challenging. Segementation testing can be very helpful in understanding influence in the purchasing decision. Tracking multiple touchpoints across an organization requires a focused, dynamic process and of course, patience. What is your team doing to track multiple touchpoints today?

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