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A Shallow Pipeline Wave on the Horizon

Posted March 26, 2020
shallow pipeline

Pipeline creation is a team sport. As a Salesperson, I wanted to share my point of view on current happenings with Marketing, in hopes we can better achieve our current and future goals – together.


The New Norm: Questions We’re Asking Ourselves

We’re all feeling a bit of what’s happening on this Kubler-Ross Model professionally, and personally… And for salespeople, hits to pipeline are as alarming as it comes, whether that’s via global crisis or just a bad month. But when it is a global crisis, we’re especially feeling these things:


  • Is my job safe? If there’s a 30% reduction to pipeline creation, does that mean the same for headcount?
  • Prospects aren’t calling (well, that actually hasn’t changed) or emailing me back. Am I doing something wrong?
  • I have a goal to hit, but I have to make sure I’m doing so tactfully, and not shortsighted like this person


The good news is, this sort of situation gives us a chance to work together more closely. We’re all seeking greater certainty, and we can find that more readily through teamwork.


Let’s look at some ideas through the lens of now, future, and ongoing alignment.


Now: Keeping Our Focus in the Face of Adversity

Let’s review what I just mentioned Sales is feeling:



In the short term, we’re going to need to do more with less responsiveness, travel, and opportunities.


There’s an even sharper need to make the most of every interaction we have with prospects. We first need Marketing’s help crafting the revised direction of the customer experience, with a greater emphasis on how we can help, and timely insight – here’s what it looked like for us at CaliberMind.


From there, we can purpose this for the individual.


Secondly, we’ll need to narrow our focus on the top potential prospects that are most likely to give us their attention. We want to sell – but mainly to the companies that really need our help right now. Take a look at Challengerinc.com’s guidance relating to COVID 19 for when buyers develop “new patterns of consumption:”



Understanding trending engagement on our Accounts may be more relevant than ever. We’ll look to marketing teams to pull together the data to blend an evolving ICP score with engagement and intent trends.


In order to accomplish bullet points 2-4, we’ll have to break through the noise – and there’s so much of it right now (do we really need a #handwashchallenge?). The Account intelligence you provide will give us the best opportunity to find success.


Future: Doing More with Less

It feels more like an oncoming COVID-19 winter than a blizzard, with some average estimates expecting the crisis to last 3.7 months to 4.5 months. Only 15.1% of respondents here believe things will go back to normal in under 3 months.


The reality is that our most challenging quarter may be the one a sales cycle out from now. We can think of it like a wave –  if it doesn’t develop now, it won’t hit the beach later.


Once again, we’re forced to make more with less when:

  • Our prospects are giving less of their engagement and focus
  • We can’t meet them in person
  • Their budgets are shrinking or frozen
  • Their priorities suddenly shift


If the bottom of our funnel has narrowed due to recent events and we know that the top of our funnel (future opportunities) will see lower volume, we must optimize the middle and our efforts around pipeline conversions.


With demand generation activities shrinking, we’re asking you to double down on the campaigns you know turn into pipeline $. And here is the trick in it all: when Marketing can do that… it increases our Sales effectiveness and focuses our efforts on the highest value activities.


Alignment: Building Habits for the Long Term

The outbreak has been all over our feeds these last few weeks in a way that can be disabling. Yet, something interesting is happening in response as well.


When our Marketing, SDR and Sales teams are forced to narrow the scope and only focus on top value activities, we eliminate much of the internal noise.


That quiet provides us a chance to better collaborate. The seriousness of the situation has us all giving our full attention to each other.


In the absence of other distractions, this is our opportunity to build habits of alignment. Some of those look like:

  • Partnership on campaigns
  • A commitment to data quality
  • Increasing our understanding of our customers and how they buy
  • And of course, a renewed commitment and focus on our shared KPI: Pipeline creation


If we’re going to move through this successfully, we’ll have to do it together. Let’s rally around that as a silver lining in this situation.



Adapting: My Hunch on What it Looks Like

What can history teach us?


In 2008, the economic crisis created a massive shift for sellers. Overnight, markets froze and people stopped buying. One shift that came out of the crisis was The Challenger Sale, which at the time was a significant change for how Sales operated.


For example, buyers became so risk-averse that they stopped making decisions in a silo and looked to their teams for purchase buy-in – hello ABM.


Teach, Tailor and Take Control rose as a framework for sellers that needed to deliver insights in order to move buyers off of their status quo. Quite a bit changed.


It’s too early to know what long term impact this recession will cause, yet what we do believe on the CaliberMind team is that winners will need to adapt quickly and will make smart investments when others will not


It will be interesting to see what that adaptation looks like – here are a couple hunches I have:

  • Teams with empathy and give-first mentalities will rise to the top – unlike in 2008, social networking and pressuring will drive this change.
  • Marketing will be relied on even more heavily as owners of the data and tech stack – when there is so much uncertainty, the silence of feedback from prospects is deafening. Our data is the voice of the customer, telling us what direction we should take.


Lastly, let’s keep up and celebrate other goodwill efforts.

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