Your Company's Sales Pipeline has an Endless Appetite...How Well are Your Marketing Activities Feeding It?

As an ISV, or any B2B organization for that matter, your sales pipeline is a living, breathing entity—almost like a baby. It must be fed, nurtured, carefully looked after, and it requires attention constantly. Marketing is the fuel that powers any sales pipeline, because it provides the constant flow of leads that sustain it. As a marketer, how often do you need to be focused on generating leads? The answer is always. May sound obvious to some, but for many others it may not.

When I’m discussing marketing strategies with ISVs, you wouldn’t believe how many of them tell me things like, “We generated so many leads at Convergence, our pipeline is full for the rest of the year”, or “We’re not focused on any specific marketing activities at the moment, because we’re trying to work more closely with partners.”

Here’s a reality check for ISVs who think this way…

  1. There is no such thing as having “too much business” to handle. If you cannot focus on all of the leads you have, and at the same time, generate new ones, you need to hire additional staff—immediately.
  2. Your sales pipeline can never be too full. You will never close all of the leads in your pipeline. That’s a fact. To make up for this, you need to constantly be adding new leads to your pipeline. Fresh leads invariably include prospects with a sense of urgency, who are likely to buy now. How can you do this? Marketing with a schedule of programs on a regular basis throughout the year.
  3. VARs will never market effectively market your solution to their customers. Sure, your solution might be great, but there are hundreds of other ISVs out there who also have great solutions. To separate your organization from your competitors, you’ll have to do your own marketing and pass the leads off to the VARs you work with.

If you’re struggling to keep the leads coming in while keeping the nurture and qualification processes moving forward, then chances are you’re not using CRM, or not using it properly. Trust me, a lot of ISVs will privately admit to being in the same position with their CRM solution. We’ve learned this in various ways over time. For a good primer on the basics of CRM and the benefits of sales force automation, I’d recommend you check out CRM expert Rick McCutcheon’s excellent new presentation on this topic from Decisions Spring 2012.

Lead qualification and keep-warm strategies can and should be automated, bringing greater transparency and efficiency at many levels of your company. And that efficiency and visibility ought to illuminate the fact that a single burst of leads from an event or another one-time source is not going to fill your sales pipeline with warm leads for long.

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