How to create pipeline that converts: Insights from Drift + Outreach GTM leaders

Posted April 12, 2023

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By Maggie Valentine

Senior Product Marketing Manager at Outreach

Get ready to supercharge your revenue team's pipeline game in 2023! In a recent webinar, we brought together two GTM powerhouses: Melton Littlepage, CMO at Outreach, and Andrew Arocha, CEO at Drift. Attendees were eager to hear from these two top industry leaders on the most effective ways to create and close high-quality pipeline. And it's no wonder; when we asked the 600-plus attendees what they were most focused on in 2023, the results were nearly unanimous: 

I need to drive high-quality pipeline that converts.

If you're looking to accelerate sales velocity and increase win rates, this recap is for you. Here, we'll share the biggest takeaways from the conversation. Keep reading for no-fluff insights that will help you achieve your revenue goals.

Want the full recording? Watch it on-demand: How to create and close more pipeline in 2023

To create quality pipeline with qualified buyers, look beyond MQLs

As SDR coverage declines and budgets are tighter than ever, marketing must partner with sales to create quality pipeline from lower volumes of inbound interest.

Traditionally, marketing team goals revolve around driving MQLs. But, as many sales leaders might guess, those MQLs didn't always turn into revenue. Even if marketing crushes their goals, sales would still be short on pipeline if those leads aren't ready to buy, don't match their ideal customer profile (ICP), or are otherwise considered a low-quality lead. 

Figure out what marketing programs drive qualified pipeline that made it to the second or third stage of your sales cycle — where deals are consistently won.
Melton Littlepage, CMO at Outreach

When marketing leaders at Outreach shifted their focus to measuring marketings impact on pipeline, we saw that the top-of-the-funnel pipeline was wide, but the conversion rate to wins was too narrow. To strengthen sales and marketing alignment, we started measuring our success on qualified pipeline, and figured out which marketing programs consistently generated closed-won revenue. By focusing on these programs, we brought in more qualified deals, and reps were able to improve their close rate.

Accelerate deal velocity with the right tools and signals

The shift from growth at all costs to profitable growth demands that marketing and sales teams work together to create and close more pipeline. 

Creating healthy pipeline is essential in order to generate new opportunities. Its also just as crucial for closing deals quickly and effectively. When it comes to accelerating deal velocity, the key is to equip your sellers with the right tools and to pay attention to signals from buyers that indicate deals may be falling behind schedule.

We're all familiar with the frustration that comes with deals that push to the next quarter those deals that take months to close only to fall through at the last minute. To avoid surprises, there are several key signals Drift reps use to assess pipeline health: including qualification, deal progression, and executive engagement.

To make sure that all the essential information is consistently captured by sales reps, Drift and Outreach are heavy adopters of mutual action plans that document qualification methods like MEDDPICC, a sales methodology that helps reps qualify every deal in an efficient, consistent way.

Anything we can do to remove friction from the sales cycle is where we lean in.
Andrew Arocha, CEO at Drift

By using Success Plans directly in Outreach, reps have everything accounted for in one place, including recorded demos and Q&A sessions. That means sellers can bring new stakeholders up to speed quickly and keep them engaged. What's more, both buyers and sellers stay aligned on the deliverables and milestones throughout the sales process. 

Always be qualifying

Both leaders agreed, reps must continuously qualify deals throughout the sales cycle, rather than just qualifying them after the first meeting. Reps need to continuously test their champion, reevaluate the paper process, and adapt to the changing environment of the buyer. 

The way to get a deal done 90 days ago may not be the way to get a deal done right now.
Melton Littlepage, CMO at Outreach

This ensures that the deal is not lost because the champion lost their leverage or the paper process actually required an additional set of steps. Qualification criteria should be in one place where everyone on the selling team can see, add, and participate, allowing for easier deal inspection and big deal reviews. Having up-to-date qualification criteria and buyer engagement information helps AE managers make more informed decisions when choosing whether or not to put a deal in the forecast.

Don't be the last one to the deal

To drive better results, Andrew and Melton also stressed the importance of providing selling teams with rich signals that help them take action. For instance, chat engagements on your website can indicate an interested buyer, and we can leverage this signal to initiate a meaningful back-and-forth with our sales development reps or account executives.

In today's fast-paced business environment, time is of the essence. To be first into a deal, we need to ensure that our signal response engagement is as quick and efficient as possible. By using automation through sequences and playbooks, we can enable our reps to follow up with accounts early on in the purchase cycle and discover new opportunities. This way, we can stay ahead of the competition and set the terms of the deal in our favor.

Improve rep productivity to deliver more revenue per seller 

Generative AI can remove non-selling tasks enabling reps to focus on winning the winnable deals and avoid wasting time on the non-winnable ones. 

Perhaps the most exciting takeaway from this webinar was the discussion around AI and sales. The old days of 20% of sellers delivering 80% of revenue are over. In a world where sales leaders need to ensure their rep participation rates are far beyond 20%, increasing rep productivity is mission-critical. 

The 80/20 rule just doesn't work in today's world. Every rep, ramped or ramping, is expected to have impact and contribution.
Andrew Arocha, CEO at Drift

So how can sales teams leverage AI to make reps more productive? Melton discussed how Outreach is already using machine learning models to identify winning opportunities and spot losing deals for their customers, directly in the platform. This allows reps to focus on the deals that have a higher chance of closing, instead of wasting time on deals that are less likely to succeed. This is a great example of how technology can help our reps make better decisions and increase their chances of success.

Another exciting development Melton talked about was generative AI in Outreach, with the introduction of Smart Email Assist. This tool auto-generates accurate and relevant email copy based on the prior context of conversations between buyers and sellers. Now, reps become editors, instead of spending the mental energy required to craft a response from scratch. In other words, reps gain efficiency, without sacrificing quality or the ability to personalize. 

The use cases discussed by Andrew and Melton are just a glimpse into the potential of AI in sales, and we're excited to see how its role in the sales workflow will continue to grow this year. 

To recap

The shift from growth at all costs to profitable growth has given rise to a new era of B2B sales. One where marketing and sales must work together with the sole focus of creating and closing more pipeline. When working in synergy, GTM teams unlock the ability to:

  • Create quality pipeline with qualified buyers
  • Increase seller efficiency and productivity to deliver more revenue per seller
  • Accelerate deal velocity and win rates, at the same time

For more insights from top sales leaders, follow Outreach on LinkedIn. You'll get daily tips and strategies to help you create and close more pipeline in 2023. And if you're looking for a deep dive into this topic, check out the full 60-minute session: How to create and close more pipeline in 2023.


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