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Sales Pipeline Report Reveals a Gap
Without fail, sooner or later every company struggles to meet a quarter’s financial targets –some companies more often than others. Typically, the warning sign is when the sales pipeline management report reveals a gap between the sales forecast and plan. Then, the cry—“let’s review the sales forecast”–is heard throughout the halls, Sales and Marketing “harmony” is about to be tested.
It’s true that Marketing should be aligned with revenue because it can impact deals at all stages of the sales cycle. What is not true is that the lead generation engine can be turned on and off and still yield qualified opportunities that will close within a 90-day period. Granted, some lead generation programs focus on developing qualified opportunities further down the sales pipeline. However, those qualified opportunities in the sales funnel tend to be bluebirds and should not be depended upon for building a sustained sales pipeline.
A management team has to question a marketing leader who brings PowerPoint slides and Excel spreadsheets to the current quarter sales forecast review highlighting leads to be generated from the current quarter. In the short-term, (and especially if the sales cycle is six months or longer), the marketing leader should be focused on converting every qualified opportunity residing in the sales funnel today. That requires Marketing to focus on sales tools and sales enablement. So, step one is for the organization to understand the relationship and time lag between leads and deals.
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