The revenue you bring in directly correlates with your sales cycle length.
And longer sale cycles could lead to stalled growth, heavy workloads, and strained revenue forecasts.
But increasing your pipeline velocity isn’t as simple as telling the sales team to close more deals. Take a look at these proven tactics to accelerate pipeline, and increase your revenue.
The 3 buckets of pipeline acceleration
Although pipeline acceleration looks like a job for the sales team, it’s a cohesive process that involves the marketing and revenue teams as well. It can be broadly 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.
Most only consider automating processes like pipeline generation and lead scoring to lighten their workload. But here are a couple of different processes you can use to do some of the heavy lifting, according to our AEs and ADRs.
i. 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. 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.”
ii. 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, Great Resignation and 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. There are different types of content pieces you could 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 un-gated value and then show them stories from other customers about how much easier their life is now that they use [insert your company name].”
- 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.”
- Forms: 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 things the leadership team has said to personalize content quickly at scale. This isn’t a sales enablement asset per se, but it helps create hyper-personalized content pieces and messages which 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 — how they realized there was a problem, their research, which competitors they reviewed, etc. Therefore, this initial process is a dark funnel you shouldn’t ignore if you want to accurately measure how your sales and marketing process contributes to accelerating pipeline.
The best way to keep a pulse on this funnel and measure your overall progress is to use revenue AI tools in conjunction with platforms like Terminus and RollWorks to measure hard metrics like marketing pipeline growth, revenue growth, account engagement, etc.
Now let's talk tactics.
10 tested pipeline acceleration tactics
Now that you understand what the three buckets of pipeline acceleration are, 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 sales pipeline and shorten the sales cycle.
1. Take advantage of the job change trigger
According to internal UserGems data, at least 20% of your customers are likely to change jobs within the next 12 months. So, ignoring the opportunity to track job changes could lead to missed opportunities to close warm leads in the shortest time possible.
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.
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.
- 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. With your marketing and sales teams aligned, 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, Director of Evangelism and Customer Marketing at Alyce, Nick Bennett, says that’s not true. On the UserGems "The First 100 Days" podcast, he insists that revenue leaders 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 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 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 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.
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, use it to establish meaningful relationships and shorten the sales cycle.
But 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 for bringing in additional leads or expanding the capacity for sales teams to close deals.
Where to start:
- Deliver timely content to prospects through personal email sequences.
- Use automated scheduling features to prevent missed appointments and double bookings.
- 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.
And while it may sound unusual to leverage B2B influencers for your ABM campaigns, 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.
Select online profiles of a select few employees and position them as subject matter experts (SMEs) by optimizing their online profiles and sharing newly-produced and curated content. You can also encourage them to share content on their personal social media profiles to open up a whole new avenue of followers and drive traffic to your website.
Where to start:
- 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 in 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.
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 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 the coaching for the 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 are armed with information on 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.)
So, 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. So, 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 effort should go toward warm leads.
3 benefits of accelerating your sales pipeline
Some of the following benefits 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 have managed to build the most efficient sales pipeline that the world has ever known, there are probably plenty of opportunities for shortening your business’ sales cycle. That short sales cycle will free up time and resources for your team 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 aren’t that into them.
That’s the world of accelerated sales pipeline flows that result 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 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 strategies to accelerate the sales pipeline, 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.
Trinity Nguyen, VP of Marketing, UserGems, puts it best:
"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."
With UserGems, you can:
- Automate your repeat business when your customers and prospects join new target accounts, and then
- Identify the rest of the buying committees in those accounts.
The cool thing is we automate it end-to-end, from lead capturing & creation in your CRM ... all the way to enrolling them into your sales outreach or marketing emails or advertising.
Does automating your pipeline generation sound interesting to you?