Lead gen is dead. It’s time for marketers to focus on pipeline marketing.

Marketing methodologies are always evolving. There’s never been one right way to do anything. There are best practices we all follow — stages of the buyer’s journey and personas we all leverage — but each company tackles marketing with its own spin based on its unique challenges. Regardless of the differing methodologies (inbound marketing, account based marketing, content marketing, social media marketing, influencer marketing — all of which fit under the umbrella of growth marketing) marketing’s core responsibility has always been recruiting new potential customers — lead generation. This post dives into the next iteration of the marketing — pipeline marketing.

Marketers have been using lead generation as a core success metric for decades. However, as new technologies provide marketers with more granular data insights into the behavior and makeup of these leads, we still focus on a legacy (I say “vanity”) metric — the number of net-new contacts sourced by marketing.

If you’re a growth marketer tasked with driving 400% net-new marketing-sourced leads in Q4, you could open up that ICP, double down on content syndication efforts, and blow out your PPC budget to get there. No problem. Well, one problem: Your CEO would find a new growth team. Your business won’t care about the number of net-new marketing-sourced MQLs you drove in H1 unless those MQLs resulted in net-new marketing-sourced customers.

The foundational problem with this mindset is that it focuses on a metric that begins and ends with a team’s board slides. A chart that shows consistent MoM net-new marketing-sourced lead growth (which really isn’t that hard to do), is always nice, but what happens when the CEO gets to the sales slides and presents the number of new marketing-sourced customers the sales team closed? Will that chart also be up and to the right?

If the answer to that question is no, then the team has a problem.

The problem with lead generation goals is that they are focused too heavily on the top of the funnel, weighing too much on quantity. This is just another reason why the marketing team is always at war with the sales team. Take a mental note if this sounds familiar:

Inbound Marketer to Sales Rep: “We sent you 2x the MQLs we sent you last month. Why haven’t you closed 2x deals?”

Sales Rep to Inbound Marketer: “Yes, you sent us 2x the MQLs, but half of them barely knew about our platform and the other half weren’t the right ICP.”

There are a lot of things at play here, but a couple big themes are a lack of marketing and sales alignment on MQL criteria / ICP and marketing’s lack of focus on the true business objective shared by both marketing and sales — MRR (monthly recurring revenue).

The role of marketing is to recruit new potential customers — the keyword being potential.

We’re all probably familiar with the standard lead funnel —


Image sourced via Bizible

Growth marketing (lead generation in conjunction with pipeline marketing) does not end when a new contact submits a marketing form on a landing page, or when they have doubled their organic web traffic by optimizing focus keywords and image alt tags. Growth marketing is about driving scalable and predictable growth in both the marketing and sales organizations. Marketing hasn’t hit its goal until marketing-sourced MRR is in the bank.

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