Pipeline acceleration helps you achieve efficient growth by shortening your sales cycle.
A shorter sales cycle means your sales team can close more deals and spend less time waiting for cold leads or prospects to make up their minds. On the other hand, longer sales cycles can lead to stalled growth, heavy workloads, and strained revenue forecasts.
But pipeline acceleration isn’t as simple as telling your sales team to close more deals in less time. Keep reading for proven tactics you can apply to accelerate your pipeline and watch your revenue grow.
Finding quality leads is essential to closing deals faster. With UserGems, you can generate a pipeline of qualified leads by surfacing past champions, users, and prospects in your CRM when they change jobs
The 3 buckets of sales pipeline acceleration
Pipeline acceleration refers to the strategies that are used to speed up a potential customer’s progression through the sales pipeline. This helps you increase your pipeline velocity, which measures how quickly prospects convert into paying customers, providing you with a more accurate picture of your future revenue.
In turn, understanding your pipeline velocity gives you an opportunity to identify gaps and weaknesses in your sales process.
For example, if your pipeline velocity is low, it may indicate that you’re spending too much time focusing on unqualified leads or that your sales process is too long and complex.
You can use these insights to improve your go-to-market strategy, optimize your sales funnel, and identify where sales reps need training or resources to win customers.
While this might make pipeline acceleration look like a job for the sales team, it’s a cohesive process that also involves the marketing and revenue teams.
It can be categorized into three buckets.
1. Automating workflows
Automation enables salespeople to focus on activities that’ll help them close high-value prospects quickly instead of time-consuming tasks like finding leads.
You may think that automating processes like pipeline generation and lead scoring will only help to lighten the workload. But, some automation processes can actually do the heavy lifting for you.
Here are the ones our AEs and ADRs like the most:
- Sales multithreading
If you want to close a deal today, being connected to a single decision-maker spells danger as there’s a good chance they might resign, get promoted, or move to another department.
That’s why you should always multi-thread your deals by connecting with multiple decision-makers at a single account. Luckily, this process is easy to automate.
Here’s how our Senior Account Executive, Joe Jarvie, does it:
“Multithreading through paid media can be automated to spark conversation and curiosity at companies that have open opportunities. Show relevant multithreading value (case studies, customer stories, playbooks specific to the persona) to get them excited!
“Ongoing nurturing through email can also work as long as it isn't content they dread getting in their inbox.”
- Social sharing
As a salesperson, sharing thought leadership content with your audience is a no-brainer. It makes you the go-to person to solve your current and potential customers’ problems.
But the hardest part of social sharing is finding relevant content to share.
Here’s what Blaise Bevilacqua, our Enterprise Account Executive, does to solve this issue.
“I automate thought leadership content with Feedly feeds so I can skim through articles on Marketing, Ops, Sales, and the Great Resignation to find new things to share every day.”
2. Coming up with valuable sales enablement assets
Sales enablement is a collaborative strategy that uses all your resources collectively to maximize engagement and improve buyer interactions. Both of which help to shorten the sales cycle.
Creating content is an important part of this process because it helps to develop meaningful connections and persuades prospects to make a final purchase decision.
If you’re wondering how content marketing helps accelerate the sales cycle, think of it this way: valuable and relevant content (like articles, videos, case studies, and more) that address the needs of your target audience attract and educate prospects who are already interested in what you have to offer.
This can help shorten the sales cycle, as you and your team can focus your time and resources on nurturing these qualified leads rather than cold-calling or emailing uninterested prospects.
There are many different types of content pieces you can use for effective outreach, but here are the formats that have worked best for our sales and demand generation team:
- Value and social proof
Value-based selling isn’t optional anymore. If you don’t educate your prospect on the value you bring to the table and back it up with social proof, it’s going to be hard to hit that monthly target.
Here’s how you do both, according to Isaac Ware, our Director of Demand Generation:
“Provide ungated value and then show them stories from other customers about how much easier their life is now that they use your product or service.”
- Case studies:
Instead of hitting your prospect with a 1000-word case study to show how your company produces results, Blaise recommends that you add them to conversations anecdotally.
Here’s an example:
“Hey X, I just spoke to Medallia’s CSM on Friday. In year 1 of partnership, they saw 38 closed won opps, 152 opps in qualified pipeline, and total revenue generated > $4M.”
According to Joe, every account should have a simple form containing information like the number of users, All-commodity volume (ACV) or annual sales volume, funding news, industry awards, tech stack, and comments or concerns from the leadership team to personalize content quickly at scale.
This isn’t a sales enablement asset per se, but it does help create hyper-personalized content pieces and messages that improve the overall buying experience.
3. Creating accurate reports
Measuring the success of your sales and marketing programs helps you gauge which ones accelerate the sales pipeline and which ones slow it down.
But the fundamental issue is that measuring this type of success isn’t always straightforward because of something Eric Wittlake, Product Director at 6sense, calls “Dark Funnels.”
Whenever we talk about funnels, we tend to think of the awareness, interest, consideration, and decision phases. But according to Eric, the reality is that “when we think about our own internal buyer journey, the funnel view that we have, we don’t actually see awareness.”
In other words, you don’t know the steps customers go through before getting into your traditional funnel, such as how they realized there was a problem, the research they did, or which competitors they reviewed.
That makes this initial process a dark funnel you shouldn’t ignore if you want to accurately measure how your sales and marketing process contributes to pipeline acceleration.
The best way to keep a pulse on this funnel and measure your overall progress is to use platforms like Terminus and RollWorks to measure hard metrics like marketing pipeline growth, revenue growth, account engagement, and more.
Now let's talk tactics.
10 tested pipeline acceleration tactics
Now that you understand the three buckets of sales pipeline acceleration, it’s time to figure out which tactics to use to boost growth and close more deals. Here are ten strategies that some of the biggest companies employ to accelerate their B2B sales pipeline and shorten the sales cycle.
1. Take advantage of the job change trigger
At least 20% of your customers are likely to change jobs within the next 12 months. Our Hidden Gems research shows that ignoring the opportunity to track job changes leads to missed opportunities to experience 114% higher win rates, 54% bigger deal sizes, and 12% shorter sales cycles.
For instance, Cobalt, an industry leader in cybersecurity, grew ROI by 12X in less than a year by tracking the customer job change trigger.
“For us, the customer-job-change trigger use case was a no-brainer. Trying to track this otherwise would have been a manual and difficult process on LinkedIn. And we would have things slip through the cracks,” says Ryan Murray, Director of Business Development at Cobalt.
Once the Cobalt team started using UserGems, the influx of warm leads ensured that business development representatives (BDRs) hit their conversion goals without experiencing pipeline anxiety.
“UserGems puts a nice warm lead who’s open to having a conversation for a BDR. Our BDRs are happy. I look forward to the first week of every month because it’s the UserGems day,” says Clare Corriveau, Director of Demand Generation at Cobalt.
Where to start:
- Use a prospecting tool that lets you track when a lead or contact leaves a job or starts a new position. You can track job changes with UserGems, check it out here.
- Identify key contacts to track, such as buyers (directors, managers, and C-level executives) and end-users (sales reps, account executives, and CX teams).
- Set up a trigger to send an automated outreach message to job change leads.
2. Sales and marketing alignment
Businesses with aligned marketing and sales teams are up to 67% more efficient at closing deals than businesses that don’t, according to Review42. With an aligned sales and marketing team, you can accelerate sales by customizing the sales experience to a contact’s individual needs with the right sales enablement content.
Companies often believe that they don’t have silos. However, the Director of Evangelism and Customer Marketing at Alyce, Nick Bennett, says that’s not true. On the UserGems "The First 100 Days" podcast, he says that revenue leaders need to proactively work to ensure that the sales and marketing teams aren’t siloed from the rest of the company.
Getting sales and marketing on the same page may seem daunting, but B2B sales pipeline acceleration is an excellent place to start. It requires both teams to work toward a common goal through collaboration.
Where to start:
- Create a lead or account scoring system that aligns expectations and identifies marketing-qualified leads and sales-qualified leads, so your pipeline isn’t cluttered with bad leads.
- Determine the best ways to fill the top of the funnel with high-quality leads, so the sales team has more reliable opportunities to close.
- Develop content for all stages of the buyer’s journey across buyer profiles so that sales can deliver relevant content at the right time.
3. Clean up your sales pipeline
Doing a little housekeeping on your B2B sales pipeline may not seem like the obvious way to accelerate pipeline velocity.
But a cluttered pipeline creates inefficiency across the board. It probably means you have too many prospects who aren’t ready to buy, your data is skewed, and your team’s workload is being weighed down by bad information.
So, clean up your pipeline and create experiences that matter to your audience. That’ll accelerate sales and help you focus your efforts on prospects that bring value to your business.
Where to start:
- Identify leads that have been stuck in your pipeline for an extended period and dump them.
- Clearly define your target audience and research their needs extensively to create targeted content and messages. This will avoid cluttered pipelines in the first place.
- Set up a system to keep the data in your CRM updated and organized (and keep the information regularly maintained).
4. Multi-thread your deals
It needs repeating. But if your sales teams are overly-reliant on a single connection at your client organization, you’re risking revenue loss in the event that the connection changes or roles or leaves the company.
But the good news is that you can avert this risk if you focus on sales multi-threading, which is the practice of forming multiple relationships at an organization to create stronger ties. If your key contact for some reason leaves the company, and the account goes dark. You don’t have to start all over again.
Where to start:
- Make sure you have developed a deep understanding of your prospects to build a robust buyer profile.
- Share content with potential buyers based on their role and level of expertise.
- Personalize communications with contacts that go beyond copy and paste messages.
- Nurture more than one person at atime
5. Automate nurturing
Even if you’ve got the best ABM strategy in place (Yes! We think our ABM program is awesome), B2B customers aren’t likely to buy from you after a single engagement; you still have to convince them your product is the solution to their problem.
And if you’re selling a complex product or service, this process becomes more challenging as the stakes are higher. That’s why it’s essential to have a solid lead nurturing strategy in place. Lead nurturing enables you to engage multiple decision-makers with content tailored to their situation. Then, you can use it to establish meaningful relationships and shorten the sales cycle.
However, conducting in-depth research to understand your ideal customer’s needs takes a lot of time and energy. So, use marketing automation to save your team valuable time and free up more resources to bring in additional leads or increase your sales velocity.
Where to start:
- Deliver timely content to prospects through personalized email sequences.
- Use automated scheduling features to prevent missed appointments and double bookings. Try UserGems’ Meeting Assistant, a free tool that helps you keep track of meetings with leads and integrates with your SalesForce CRM.
- Create sales reports that use CRM data to give revenue teams a bird’s eye view of their performance.
6. Use B2B influencers to accelerate pipeline generation
Regardless of their niche, influencers have already built a strong rapport with their audience. This means they can easily market relevant products and services to their audiences.
While leveraging B2B influencers for your ABM campaigns may sound unusual, not working with them means missing opportunities to improve brand awareness and authority. But does this mean you should immediately set aside a massive budget for influencer marketing?
Not at all. You can transform your employees into thought leaders and brand ambassadors of the company. This will elevate their profiles, accelerate your sales pipeline, and help you close deals faster.
Where to start:
If you’re looking to work with B2B influencers:
- Identify B2B influencers in your industry or previous customers who can sway the opinion of a prospect.
- Set up a referral program to tap into B2B influencers within your network who love your product or service.
- Use a job change trigger to track when a current champion moves to another company your business is targeting.
To Identify and position employees as subject matter experts (SMEs):
- Optimize their online profiles and ask them to share newly produced and curated content.
- Encourage them to share content on their personal social media profiles, which can open up a whole new avenue of followers and drive traffic to your website.
- Give them opportunities to speak at industry events or write articles for industry publications.
- Feature them in your company's blog or social media channels.
- Provide them with access to training and resources so that they can stay up-to-date in their field.
- Recognize their contributions and expertise both internally and externally.
7. Invest in sales coaching for your team
Sales coaching programs create a space for reps to improve performance, establish better working relationships with their cohort, and reduce sales team attrition. But coaching is hard — you must diagnose the rep’s shortcomings, train them without overwhelming them, and create an accurate system to evaluate them.
Here’s what Signal’s (HubSpot’s freemium tool) CRO, Mark Roberge, suggests you do to make the coaching process successful:
- Coach one skill at a time:
Each rep will have their own strengths and weaknesses, so you should use data to identify where they need coaching and focus on one skill at a time to ensure they don’t get overwhelmed.
“No rep is a rock star on day one, even if they have the potential to be. So a lot of managers see so many ways they can improve their reps that they end up just throwing too much at them, which ultimately overwhelms them. This is natural, you see a lot of ways to improve a rep, and you instinctively want to help them. But you’ve got to fight this temptation,” says Mark.
- Get buy-in from the rep:
After using metrics to identify the one skill the rep needs to work on, you need to co-create a plan with the rep. This opens up a two-way dialogue about their struggles, gets them invested in the process, and helps you create a tailored training plan for them.
- Train your reps the right way
Most companies follow the same old process of hiring a rep, giving them a sales manual or playbook, and shadowing a senior rep to take notes on how to sell.
According to Mark, this approach is flawed.
“Often, the new rep will simply be learning another sales rep’s individual selling style instead of learning based on their specific characteristics. Most salespeople do one thing very well but are mediocre at rest, which means they naturally tend to center their teaching on the one skill they excel at–and this doesn’t translate to a complete or successful learning experience,” he says.
The best way to not fall into this trap is to tailor coaching to each individual rep, encourage them to follow their individual skill sets, and then give them the sales playbook. This will help you create a sustainable process and get consistent results from your team.
Where to start:
- Build a coaching plan that’s proactive, not reactive. You don’t need to wait for your sales team’s performance to dip before developing a coaching plan.
- Create a repeatable, scalable process for sales reps to review their performance and engage in conversations for improvement.
8. Implement a sales enablement strategy
Today's buyer is in the driver’s seat. They’re armed with information about how the vendor works, ask complex questions, and demand customized information about how the solution will affect their business.
This means the salesperson should be armed with adequate training, content, and data analytics to have more successful sales conversations without stretching the sales cycle.
These include focusing on effective sales onboarding, coaching, and continuous learning about the product through content to help the customer make an informed decision.
Where to start:
- Create a knowledge base for sales reps to answer common questions and consolidate information.
- Collaborate with marketing to provide all relevant assets to the sales team.
- Establish top performers on the sales team as leaders or mentors to coach fellow reps.
9. Revisit your sales messaging and assets with the content team
Your prospects are seeing more content now than ever before. And if you’re not creating relevant or compelling content, they won’t be inspired to take the next step and make a purchase decision. So, create up-to-date content and revisit it from time to time to generate new leads.
Here’s how Couchbase does it.
Couchbase is an engagement database built on NoSQL technology. They needed to find a way to market their business to a highly technical audience and cross-sell and upsell to their existing accounts to improve the Average Order Value (AOV).
Their team decided to do a content audit and reviewed every one of their pieces by persona, buying stage, and pain point. They also pulled out existing content consumption data from their CRM and chalked out persona-led content plans.
After the campaigns were finished, the teams could see if their account selection models were accurate and refine them accordingly. As a result, Couchbase’s account engagement increased. And the program generated $1.5 million for its pipeline.
Where to start:
- Audit your current sales assets and comb through prospect messaging.
- Remove outdated messages, irrelevant assets, and any communication that creates bottlenecks or negatively impacts buyer understanding.
- Identify key customer touch-points and map out the best content for those touch-points.
10. Prioritize warm leads and accounts
Cold outreach is valuable, But if you’re looking to accelerate your pipeline and shorten your sales cycle, you’re better off focusing on warm leads.
It can take a ton of time and resources to reach out, capture their attention, and convert cold leads.
Instead, dig into the data you already have to identify warm leads who are more likely to buy from you. These can include:
- Past prospects
- Past customers
- Customer referrals
Where to start:
- Get a temperature check on your leads to see who is most likely to purchase from you.
- Prioritize leads based on your temperature check.
- Save cold leads for last, but don’t ignore them completely. Follow the 80/20 rule; most of your team’s efforts should go toward warm leads.
- Automate this process with UserGems. We make it easy for your sales reps to find and act on warm leads.
3 benefits of sales pipeline acceleration
Even though pipeline acceleration may sound like a lot of work, it comes with significant benefits.
Some translate into clear results (more money), while others might not be as obvious (increased SDR productivity). However, they’re all tied to eliminating unnecessary blockages and bottlenecks that lengthen the sales cycle and decrease revenue.
1. Increase revenue
Unless you’ve managed to build the most efficient B2B sales pipeline the world has ever known, there are probably plenty of opportunities for shortening your business’ sales cycle. A shorter sales cycle will free up time and resources your team can use to close more deals at a faster rate, resulting in revenue lifts.
2. Boost sales rep productivity
HubSpot found that salespeople spend as little as one-third of their working day talking to prospects. The other two-thirds go to writing emails, data entry, prospecting, lead research, internal meetings, and scheduling calls.
Whew, that’s a lot of time not closing deals. 😅
Imagine a world where sales reps are freed from a million tasks by using automation in their workflows powered by CRM data enrichment. Or one where SDRs can stop chasing deals with prospects who just aren’t that into them.
That’s the world of accelerated sales pipeline velocity that results from spending less time doing things that don’t get results and more time working with prospects who are ready to buy.
3. Improved internal communication
While relationships between sales and marketing teams can be tense, there’s no doubt that creating alignment between the two departments will bring more value to prospects and improve company results.
With sales and marketing working in tandem, teams will be more aware of their common goals and more inclined to collaborate. After all, what good are marketing reports without sales results or sales reports without marketing attribution?
Shorten your sales cycles and reduce pipeline anxiety with automated pipeline generation playbooks
Accelerating your B2B sales pipeline means all your teams make a collaborative effort to improve your sales process, marketing strategies, and team workflows.
While it takes a bit of heavy lifting upfront, once you begin implementing sales pipeline acceleration strategies, your team (and revenue) will thank you.
One of the most important steps you can take right now is to start tracking your customers’ job changes since it’s the easiest way to find warm leads and do away with long sales cycles and pipeline anxiety.
I like to say:
"In the current market condition, there's an increased focus on achieving more with less. ‘Automating pipeline generation' means automating manual tasks, and more importantly, not only highlighting data or insights but also turning them into actions. This enables revenue teams to boost productivity and efficiency, helping them achieve their growth goals."
UserGems helps you accelerate pipeline by tracking when your best buyers, past customers, and prospects join new target accounts. We automate the whole process from end-to-end to make it easier for sales reps to follow up on these warm leads — from lead capturing & creation in your CRM all the way to enrolling them into your sales outreach, marketing emails, and targeted advertising.