For B2B technology marketers, the notion of a sales pipeline is nothing new. But developing that pipeline around the client-buying process may be unchartered territory.

Meaningful customer connections and insights are critical to surviving and thriving today, and in the days ahead. With B2B technology sales a never-ending process of prospecting, outreach, and nurturing, the leaders of tomorrow are those that are rediscovering their clients and prospects by using a client-centric pipeline model. This is a valuable method for improving marketing and sales alignment, effectiveness, and measurement.

Doing so will help organisations shift their focus from transaction to client, thereby accelerating and reducing the cost of revenue generation.

But first, how do the elements of a sales-oriented pipeline and a client-buying pipeline differ?

Let’s look at the typical journey both might take.

A sales-oriented pipeline

1. Identify your prospect
2. Send an outreach email
3. Call to schedule a meeting
4. Assess prospect’s business need
5. Determine a budget
6. Submit your quote
7. Deliver a demo/presentation
8. Submit a proposal

A customer buying-oriented pipeline

1. Prospect visits website
2. Engages with content
3. Requests a phone call
4. Outlines their challenges
5. Attends a webinar
6. Schedules a meeting
7. Provides specification and budget
8. Participates in a demo
9. Requests a proposal

The nuances between these two scenarios are hard to miss: the former describes company behaviour, and is driven largely by a transactional need to drive sales, while the latter maps out a client-driven buyer journey and is underpinned by a carefully considered alignment between sales and marketing.

According to Jennifer Lidsky (Managing Director, Customer Insight & Growth Strategy, Accenture), “B2B sales teams are at an inflection point. What used to fill the funnel won’t fill the funnel anymore. Refocusing on defining new digital sales journeys is a must for what is to come.”

Based on the knowledge that organisations that dynamically align their sales processes to customers’ changing paths have 17.9% higher win rates, we’ve outlined five practical steps that you can take to create a successful client-buying pipeline:

Define the client buying process and their behavioural commitment at each buying stage

By defining your prospect’s buying process, you should then be able to develop a solid understanding of their behavioural commitment at each stage of that buying journey.

Together, marketing and sales teams can group the behaviours into buying stages that relate to the buying process. This information can then be used to craft compelling content that speaks to the buyer’s individual needs and requirements.

From the initial recognition of an issue, to the purchase decision stage, there are various points along the buying process where you can input your expertise and impact their decision making.

sales and marketing alignment

The leaders of tomorrow are are rediscovering their clients and prospects by using a client-centric pipeline model.

Determine stage owners

Do your research and find out who is responsible for making purchase decisions at each touchpoint. You want to ensure you’re targeting the right people.

Chief Nation insight

When a client suggests a theme for their upcoming event, we sometimes spot ways their target list can be enhanced. An event about Cloud Transformation, for example, wouldn’t necessarily resonate with a CFO (although having the backing of a financial officer is vital to securing a sale). Understanding who owns what stage of the buyer journey will not only ensure you’re reaching out to the right people at the right time, but it will also mitigate the risk of encountering obstacles that might prematurely halt the funnel progression of a lead.

Align marketing and sales tools and processes to each stage.

The Content Marketing Institute reports that 60 to 70% of B2B content is never used because the subject topics are irrelevant to the buyer audience. Meanwhile, 79% of marketing leads never convert due to a failure to nurture consumer connections. If sales and marketing teams were on the same page, all that work would be less likely to go to waste.

So, to ensure the efficiency and effectiveness of your marketing efforts, you need to ensure that you’re investing in the sales tools you need to accelerate the buyer journey.

Listening to the needs of your prospects and offering helpful information throughout the buyer journey is the best way to build trust and turn a prospective buyer into a loyal client.

Think inbound marketing. It’s the opposite of pushy sales and focuses instead on sharing valuable content that addresses the buyers’ unique needs and any questions they might have surrounding their current goals and frustrations.

Simplify workflows by configuring marketing- and sales-automation

Aligned businesses are 20% more likely to implement marketing automation than non-aligned ones. This suggests that aligned companies are more adaptable to new technologies – and according to Forbes, those that are keeping up with digital transformation have five times more revenue growth that their peers.

Sales and marketing alignment not only unifies leadership and combines shared goals and targeted personas, but it can also simplify workflows. Rather than marketing teams logging into one system and sales teams into another, both departments should be using the same dashboards and tools.

When sales and marketing align in this way, revenue increases, the sales cycle shortens, and conversion rates improve along with forecast accuracy.

Aligned businesses are 20% more likely to implement marketing automation than non-aligned ones.

sales and marketing alignment

Monitor, measure, and report results

When it comes to B2B technology, sales cycles are notoriously long, especially if you’re trying to reach C-level executives. In some cases, it can take up to a year to close a deal. That’s why it’s all the more important to monitor, measure and report results to keep track of your efforts.

Once you’ve identified the stages of your buyer pipeline and developed your objectives, make a sales dashboard to help track your development. This control panel should be updated regularly with important information on your pipeline. With just a glance, your sales and marketing teams should be able to tell where you are and what your strategy is. This will not only help to inform your content and nurturing strategy, but it’ll tell you where to prioritise your efforts to ensure you’re keeping your prospects front and centre.

Redefine the buyer journey

In recent months, many B2B technology organisations have seen their client and prospects’ needs dramatically shift as they clamber to serve new revenue streams of their own. Out of these changes come new opportunities for business leaders to reconsider the way their marketing and sales teams are working together.

In a virtually distanced world where empathy has become a key component to nurturing digital leads, engineering a client-buying pipeline that is led by both sales and marketing departments is essential to pipeline success.

If you want to learn more about our Digital to Human™ marketing approach that gets you face-to-face with your target personas, get in touch today and we’ll send you a sample database.

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