We just started the final quarter of the calendar year and many marketing professionals are looking at their quarterly budget and wondering how they should spend their remaining balance before they lose it. There are many different avenues one can take when deciding what is the best fit for your organization. Depending on your goals, each option provides a different impact on you sales pipeline. Below, I review four options that most marketers consider when deciding how to spend their remaining budget and I discuss the impact each option should have on your sales pipeline.

Trade Shows/Conferences: Trade shows are making a big return for many marketing departments; the problem is deciding which one you will invest in to provide the biggest return. On any given week there are at least one or two conferences or shows worth attending, but which makes the most sense for your organization? Gauging the ROI on a booth investment can be difficult because most people don’t close business during a booth stop. Booths are great at creating word of mouth buzz (as long as they are done right) and providing prospects for your inside sales team to follow up with, but if you haven’t already committed to an event, the cost of the event is rising with each day you put off your decision. These types of decisions are best made early in the year, so plan ahead. Sales Pipeline Impact: Low/Moderate- Shows are fun to work/attend and generally create a nice list of prospects to follow up on. Most of these prospects do not have immediate needs attached to them. Just because someone stops by your booth and drops a business card into your fish bowl does not equal a Sales Qualified Lead. There can be an impact on your sales pipeline, but you may not see it this quarter.

Webinars: Webinars are another valuable marketing tool that can provide a nice lists of prospects for an inside sales team to follow up on at a later date or include in a lead nurturing program. Webinars allow an organization to showcase what they are best at, which is extremely valuable. Many attendees sign up because they have a pain or need your webinar can address; so taking advantage of this opportunity while you have potential prospects engaged is extremely important. The problem with webinars is that there are a lot of factors that can lead to the success/failure of the production. Are you looking for a partner to produce the webinar with you or are you going solo? How are you going to market your webinar to ensure a high number of registered attendees? You could have the best content for your webinar, but if no one sees it, you’ve wasted your time. Picking the proper channels and partners for your webinar will be essential to its success, provided you have the stellar content that people will want to hear. Sales Pipeline Impact: Moderate- The problem with webinars is that you won’t find any qualified sales opportunities directly from the event. Again, an inside sales team is needed to follow up on the list of attendees to qualify the leads and discover what opportunities may be available. With a good inside sales team in place, you will probably see some sales qualified pipeline within the quarter, but the percentage of opportunities to the number of attendees may be low (assuming your organization did a good job of marketing the event). Webinars, like trades shows and conferences can be disastrous if you have no one attending and a huge waste of time and budget.

Email Campaigns: If your goal as a marketing department is to hit the largest amount of prospects in the shortest amount of time, then email marketing may be your best choice. The success of your email campaign will be a direct reflection on the quality of the list you purchased. This is where the problem usually lies with email campaigns, most lists are only 60%-75% accurate at most (75% may be a little high). Still, if you’ve purchased a 10,000 name list and get a 65% accuracy rate, you are still able to get your message out to approximately 6,500 prospects. Let’s hope these prospects are your targeted titles within an organization. Sales Pipeline Impact: Moderate/High – The reason email campaigns are used in a fourth quarter is because you can get in front of a high number of people quickly. If you have targeted the right contacts and developed the right message, there are opportunities for you to discover an active project or initiative that fits your offering. You still need an inside sales team to follow up on any replies that flood your inbox and to qualify the prospect further before sending the contact over to sales. Chances are you will see a higher number of qualified opportunities move into the sales pipeline and you don’t have to wait till next quarter to gauge the effectiveness of the campaign.

Teleprospecting Campaigns: Teleprospecting campaigns are generally as expensive as your trade show/conference and more expensive then email campaigns and webinars. The major benefit to a teleprospecting campaign is that it will have an immediate impact on your sales pipeline. If you are partnering with an outside organization, there could be some major questions that need to be resolved before you move forward with a program. You need to know that the organization you choose has experience in your space (or at least in similar spaces) and has shown success in the past. You must also have a discussion on what constitutes a qualified opportunity, tire kickers and information gatherers will have no impact on your pipeline. Sales Pipeline Impact: High- If they are managed properly, most teleprospecting campaigns combine both email and outbound calling to discover sales qualified opportunities. The concerns over how long it takes for a program to get rolling need to be addressed before the investment is made. A credible teleprospecting organization should return at least five to ten sales qualified opportunities per month, depending on the amount of your investment. At least 80% of the opportunities uncovered should progress in your sales pipeline, producing the highest level of impact in a quarter out of any of the programs mentioned. You can determine within half the quarter whether or not this was a good investment with a high ROI.

The best marketing departments are utilizing all four of these options to increase product awareness, traffic and marketing leads. But when tasked with spending the remaining balance of your marketing budget, email and teleprospecting campaigns make the most sense when looking for a direct impact on sales pipeline and higher ROI in a shorter amount of time.