B2B marketing and sales leaders found it more challenging to generate sufficient pipeline last year than to pivot go-to-market approaches amid changing conditions or sell virtually with a remote team, according to The State of B2B lead Management 2022, a report from LeanData, Sales Hacker, Heinz Marketing and Outreach. And this year, those same leaders will be focused on generating pipeline, per the study.
Indeed, not only was pipeline the top challenge cited for 2021, but it’s the leading priority (among 5 listed) for this year, according to the survey’s more than 1,700 respondents. Almost half (48.8%) named pipeline growth their top priority for their go-to-market organization this year. That’s more than double the share who said that building/staffing teams (22.4%) is their top priority. Other initiatives such as expanding their addressable market (18.3%), accelerating digital transformation (7.1%) and new tech stack investments (3.5%) registered lower on the priority list.
The attention paid to pipeline growth – at least for marketing respondents – is understandable given the extent to which marketing is expected to contribute to sales pipeline. In a recent study, 82% of marketers said they are measured by the sales pipeline they initiate, and 78% reported being measured by the sales pipeline they influence.
It also makes sense given that more than half of respondents agreed that revenue growth was a challenge for their organization last year. The good news is that almost 6 in 10 respondents agree to some extent that their sales and marketing are aligned to deliver growth this year. A key priority for for B2B demand gen marketers this year is to better align their marketing and sales teams around go-to-market initiatives.
However, some improvement to lead management systems and processes may be in order. Although a slight majority agree that their organization’s lead management systems and processes help them deliver an ideal customer experience, more than one-quarter don’t feel that way. Moreover, one-quarter disagree that their current lead management system will support revenue goals this year. And, although almost 2 in 3 feel that they are somewhat effective in achieving their conversion goals with their current lead management strategy, only around 1 in 4 (27%) are very confident in this area.
Lead Routing Proves Problematic
The survey indicates that B2B organizations are at times assigning leads to the wrong owner – with 6 in 10 admitting this to sometimes happen and another 7% claiming that it happens half or more of the time.
On a positive note, 2 in 3 are able to match leads to accounts and are happy with the process. Even so, this leaves many for whom lead matching occurs but is slow or error-ridden (24.3%) and a small fraction who simply aren’t matching leads to accounts despite a desire to do so (4.3%).
Issues with speed may be the result of outdated processes: the #1 method for routing leads is manual, as opposed to other methods such as using marketing automation platforms or native assignment rules in the CRM. This brings to mind recent research in which 1 in 3 B2B organizations were found to be using manual processes to move sales and marketing data across tools.
Looking forward, then, the top lead management capability that respondents would like to have but currently don’t is more automation/fewer manual processes.
About the Data: The results are based on a December 2021 global survey of 1,732 B2B sales, marketing, and operations professionals, with technology the most heavily represented industry.