how to conquer pipeline anxiety
how to conquer pipeline anxiety

We’ve all seen the news: layoffs, budget cuts, increased interest rates, and the news of an impending recession. The result? Pipeline anxiety.

But pipeline anxiety isn’t anything new for most sales and marketing teams (who have had to often deal with stretch goals and the stress that goes along with them.) The difference is with all going on; stretch goals are beginning to look like impossible to reach goals.

This means pipeline anxiety is hitting teams in a big way. And it’s here to stay for the foreseeable future.

How pipeline anxiety affects revenue teams

There are a lot of symptoms of pipeline anxiety, for individuals and for teams, that many people can relate to. Low morale, increased levels of tension, feelings of being overwhelmed—and that’s just to name a few.

1. Every department is affected

We might not all call our anxiety “pipeline anxiety” across different departments, but the effects of pipeline anxiety seep through all parts of a company. Our jobs are more challenging now than they were six months ago.

Why? There’s closing anxiety for sales and renewal anxiety for customer success. And on a larger scale, there’s revenue anxiety for the whole organization.

2. Everything requires stricter evaluation processes

Faced with high goals and limited resources, companies become stricter at evaluating everything, from tools to people. In practice, that can look like this:

  • Making distinctions between “nice-to-have” and “need-to-have” tools.
  • Setting higher expectations for sales and marketing to hit their goals.
  • Prioritizing short-term cost-cutting measures over long-term sustainability.

Founders and executives have to make difficult decisions.

  • Will cutting a product or service out of the budget create significantly more work and more stress for their employees?
  • Is adding a new tool to the organization’s tech stack a smart move (because it solves a problem) or a risky move (because the tool is unproven)?

Buying and selling are harder in this environment.

3. Earlier goals have become unrealistic

You can have pipeline anxiety in a good environment and a bad environment. Setting very ambitious goals and stretching yourself to reach them isn’t a negative thing, but leaders need to keep revenue goals in perspective.

When there is a disconnect between what’s possible in this environment and what a leader thinks is possible, this can add more pressure on employees to hit impossible targets.

How can companies still thrive?

Right now, the biggest source of pipeline anxiety comes from the disconnect between expectations from leadership and what can actually be achieved by their teams. Leaders are responsible for filling in the gaps between expectations—which were established based on an entirely different set of information—and our current reality. Here are three ways to address these issues.

1. Prioritize efficient growth over growth at all costs

Ultimately, it’s time for leaders to put efficient growth on a pedestal and retire the notion of “growth at all costs.”

For example, the definition of efficient growth at my company is very straightforward: We strive for a burn multiple of 1, which means that it costs a net burn of $1 to generate $1. It’s possible to maintain efficient growth by adopting efficient targets—not just high targets—that focus on the goal of long-term sustainable growth.

2. Talk to revenue leaders

Unfortunately, the hardest things to come by right now are comparables that will guide leaders on what everyone else is experiencing. We can all see that companies are being impacted in big and small ways by the market, but it’s not clear to what extent.

Talking to other revenue leaders, including CEOs and founders, has never been more important to gather information and make more informed decisions.

3. Tap into existing relationships

Especially right now. Everyone is extremely cautious about buying new products. Spending is evaluated much more closely.

Bad purchases are much riskier now for the individual. This has buyers and vendors on edge. How can teams tip the scale in their favor?

Relationships are the key. When a product or solution is already proven, this removes a lot of risk for the buyer. No one gets fired for buying IBM!

Tapping into existing relationships will improve pipeline generation and help your sales and marketing teams find previous buyers and users who can champion your company and remove significant barriers.

Pressure creates diamonds

Even though the market is difficult now, it’s important to remember that it will get better.

In the meantime, founders are responsible for taking meaningful steps that help alleviate pipeline anxiety and steer their companies away from the long-lasting negative effects of growth at all costs. Executives are under a lot of pressure right now, but don’t forget the truth behind the old saying: Pressure makes diamonds.

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