Last updated: How forecasting and pipeline management bring sales closer to marketing

How forecasting and pipeline management bring sales closer to marketing


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The days of sales and marketing operating in silos should be long gone. Most organizations say they try to align the two functions because the role of marketing can be critical in the sales process.

But in reality, that alignment is more conceptual than practical – and it requires CRM.

The numbers underscore the lack of alignment: SiriusDecisions research found that only 46 percent of companies include marketing in sales planning activities. That can translate into a lot of lost opportunities. According to SiriusDecisions, aligned organizations grow 19 percent faster and achieve 15 percent higher profitability.

Forecasting for marketing and sales: Same team, different goals

Marketing and sales naturally have different goals. The marketing team generates leads and hands them to sales while the sales team generates revenue by moving leads through the pipeline to close. Marketing’s success is often measured on leads generated and sales is measured on revenue. So how do you bring these two teams together?

Forecasting and pipeline management is a natural place for sales and marketing to work together. When we look at a sales forecast, we see lots of data: deal scores, what stage a deal is in, customer information, dollar amounts, and more. What if that forecast also ties into data that marketing finds relevant, such as the last time a customer was engaged, and by what marketing campaign? Now we can start to see marketing’s impact on the forecast.

Tactically, if a critical deal has a low score, marketing can work with the account executive to create a targeted campaign to drive more meaningful engagement with existing stakeholders, connect with new stakeholders, and move the deal forward.

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By working together to unstick stuck deals, sales and marketing can figure out what marketing campaigns are truly resonating with customers and which ones are failing to gain traction.

Working together, sales and marketing also can make sure customer renewal campaigns are effective.

For example, if a customer is coming up for renewal, but engagement is low, then the teams can collaborate on a better strategy.

Sales forecasting and pipeline management enables marketing and sales to overcome their differences and meet in the middle. Joined together, the teams are interested in not just generating leads and meetings, but in a common goal: generating actual, substantial pipeline.

It also provides accountability on both sides: Sales holds marketing accountable to MQLs and marketing can ensure sales is following up on leads. This alignment is what G2 Crowd discovered after it implemented Datahug.

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