Raise your hand if you have a fool-proof way to forecast and project pipeline?
While sales teams are often equipped with the data and tools to accurately forecast revenue, marketing teams tend to struggle when it comes to projecting pipeline. A lack of even the simplest data and insights, like lead quality (remember, quantity does not equal quality!) and conversion rates, makes it difficult for marketers to commit to a number. Since pipeline and revenue generation go hand-in-hand, this can have a major impact on hitting your revenue targets.
The fact is unpredictable pipeline leads to unpredictable revenue generation. In this article, we’ll walk through how you can create accurate pipeline plans in partnership with your sales team, so you can work together to strategize and hit your goals.
Understand your funnel metrics
It’s time to eliminate the guesswork. The only way to begin accurately projecting pipeline is to start utilizing hard data.
The first step is to analyze your funnel and review these three key metrics:
- What are your conversion rates at each stage of the funnel?
- What’s the average velocity, or time it takes for a prospect to move to the next stage at each point in the funnel?
- Where are your leakages? How far is a prospect or deal traveling through the funnel before being lost?
Once you understand your conversion rates from leads to MQL, MQL to SQL, and SQL to bookings (opportunities), the average time it takes for a prospect to move from one stage to the next, as well as leakage, you can begin to project pipeline for your current and subsequent quarters.
From here, you should see a clear picture of not only how much you currently have in pipeline, but also how much you expect to add over the next quarter based on how many prospects you have at each stage, the conversion rates, velocity, and leakage.
Analyze data and metrics to project pipeline
Knowing the current composition and health of your pipeline, as well as each funnel stage, is key to not only generating pipeline and revenue, but making accurate projections as well. Once you’re aware of your basic funnel metrics, you can begin to identify needs and optimize against your targets.
Make sure you’re monitoring your bottlenecks and leakages across the funnel. Which stages are lacking in volume? How many active prospects do you have at each stage? Take a look at your newly created, moved, and disqualified/dropped numbers, so you can help support weekly check-ins with sales and marketing.
This will help set the stage for discussions on marketing to SDR and SDR to AE handoffs, and any potential friction points that are causing leakage or bottlenecks. It’s critical to identify these pipeline gaps or bottlenecks early, so you can adjust your tactics and reduce any future leakage in these areas.
Take a look at the composition of your pipeline. Here are four important areas to analyze:
- Top regions - What areas of the country or world are your leads and opportunities coming from?
- Top titles - What job titles are you seeing?
- Top industries - What industries are appearing across the funnel?
- Top channels - What channels are your leads and opportunities generating from?
Are there any patterns you’re seeing? Perhaps you’re seeing a bulk of leads coming in from CMOs, the financial industry, North America, and paid search.
Then ask yourself, are these good or bad opportunities? Are leads from the financial industry contributing to leakage? Are paid search leads converting higher than your other channels? Are CMOs progressing through the funnel quicker than other titles? How does this data map back to your ICPs?
Understanding the quality of your pipeline, in addition to the quantity, is critical to pipeline projection. Do you have enough of your best fit leads active in the funnel to hit your pipeline goals? Once again, coming to your weekly sales and marketing meetings with insights on the type of leads that are converting to pipeline will help you refine your ICPs, and understand which channels and audiences to target.
Layer in predictive pipeline intelligence
Stitching together reports and trying to make sense of how much pipeline you can expect to generate is not reliable. You can’t leave it up to guesswork. Marketing and sales must work together to generate pipeline and if you have a way to accurately project it you won’t believe what happens. The constant worry of if you will hit your goals…disappears.
The best way to ensure this happens is to layer in predictive intelligence. With RevSure, you can turn more leads into opportunities with our real-time pipeline projections. We use predictive intelligence to provide lead and account insights that allow you to see the behaviors, roles, verticals, channels, segments, and more that are most likely to convert. It also takes it one step further by serving up AI-based insights and recommendations to eliminate time spent trying to make sense of the data.
Interested in seeing how RevSure can improve the accuracy of your pipeline projections so you never miss your revenue targets again? Book a demo today.