The three kinds of pipeline problems

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Pipeline problems often come in three types: a need for a higher quantity of leads or opportunities, a need for higher quality pipeline, and a need for a more efficient pipeline process.

If you’ve encountered these issues, you’re not alone. Many marketing professionals grapple with these obstacles. So how can you turn these challenges into opportunities for growth?

Introducing The Growth Framework™

At Intelligent Demand, we live and breathe driving smarter, more efficient growth. In our 15+ years of delivering integrated growth plays for clients with diverse growth goals, we’ve built a framework that allows for smarter, more accurate diagnosis and solution treatment to pipeline problems. It’s called The Growth Framework™.

The Growth Framework is designed to be a systematic guide for identifying issues and formulating solutions that align with your overall growth goals.

It starts by stepping back and taking an objective look at current results and activities, then identifying the areas where the most significant improvements can be made.

Type 1; Quantity

Indicators include:

  • Coverage relative to goals
  • Delayed or pushed opportunities (especially in MoFu and BoFu)

Delays or pushes of opportunities, especially in the middle and bottom of the funnel are one of the most common symptoms of the first kind of pipeline problem: quantity.

Without sufficient or healthy pipeline, people will do all kinds of outlandish things to hit revenue goals. While less-than-optimal pipeline numbers are worthy of some stress, low quantity cannot be fixed with unaligned solutions. If these symptoms sound familiar, take a step back and evaluate how your current strategies align with your ICP and modern B2B buyer behavior.

Type 2; Quality

Indicators include:

  • Not seeing enough ICP fit
  • Low conversions throughout marketing and sales processes
  • Low sales acceptance rates when leads move from marketing to sales
  • Deal sizes have shrunk or simply need to be higher
  • Deal velocity is too slow

If you’re experiencing issues like weak ICP fit, low conversion rates, shrinking deal sizes, or slow deal velocity, you likely are dealing with the second type of pipeline problem: the need for higher-quality pipeline.

Organizations experiencing these issues might be focused solely on driving higher quantity, only to end up with more of the same symptoms. Smart organizations are adopting an efficient growth mindset and pivoting away from growth at all costs. This new strategy is rooted in targeting the buyers who are most likely to buy, repurchase, and become brand advocates. It requires an honest look at your personas and understanding how well your strategies to reach them align with their preferences, and can be key to unlocking efficient, sustainable growth.

Type 3; Efficiency

Indicators include:

  • Too high of acquisition costs (CAC)
  • CAC to lifetime value is too high or too low
  • Cost per lead or cost per opportunity is getting too high

An efficient pipeline is every organization’s dream. Who doesn’t want to live in a world where deals move through the process quickly and with low spend?

However, the inefficiency is more common and presents some issues. When customer acquisition costs (CAC) are too high, CAC to customer lifetime value ratios are off-target, or cost per lead (CPL) is too high, you likely have opportunities for improving pipeline efficiency rather than quantity or quality. Buyers are doing more independent research and adopting anonymity to avoid sales-induced spam, suggesting that a high volume of emails and sales messaging isn’t likely to encourage efficient funnel progression. Instead, organizations are moving to high-value offers, where they can engage their buyers in trust-building, valuable experiences without risk of being pitched to.

Start with stepping back

By systematically addressing each layer of the Growth Framework, you’ll uncover where to focus your efforts to improve pipeline—faster, smarter, and more measurably—and ultimately achieve a higher return on your marketing investment.

Remember, solving pipeline problems isn’t about doing more of the same; it’s about stepping back, taking an honest and objective look at current activities then identifying where you can make the most significant impact. Objectivity can be hard to achieve with internal teams, and many organizations have found great success referring to an external partner when addressing and solving pipeline problems. Explore our success stories for examples, and reach out to schedule a free discovery session. We’d love to help you reach your growth goals.