How To Build a Sustainable Sales Pipeline With Shorter Deal Cycles

May 1, 2024

Small marketing teams usually contend with three challenges: budget, headcount, and time.

Without any wiggle room for waste, meeting goals (and beating the competition) hinges on targeted efforts that yield outsized results. 

How To Build a Sustainable Sales Pipeline With Shorter Deal Cycles

This is especially true for small teams with a massive target audience. For these teams, the question isn’t so much how can we drive demand, it’s how can we make the most of our approach?

The answer? Account-based everything.

The problem: Too many in-market accounts

Having a large target audience is generally a good problem. It means there’s a vast pool of buyers who might benefit from your solution.

But it also puts marketers at risk of casting the widest net possible to influence pipeline. For small teams, this is both unsustainable and ineffective.

If there are thousands of accounts that could use your product or service, it’s impossible to give each of those accounts meaningful attention. It’s also unlikely that your organization has the budget or the sales capacity to engage that many accounts.

The play: Prioritize high-fit, high-intent audiences first

What should you do if your team is small but your target audience is huge? Focus your budget and sales outreach on the accounts that seem the most ready-to-buy.

Instead of spinning your wheels trying to focus on every account equally, you can use intent signals as a guiding light to identify which accounts your team should prioritize.

At RollWorks, we generally group intent data into two tiers:

Tier 1: Branded search, competitor names, anything containing “ABM”
Tier 2: Category intent (e.g. B2B advertising; display advertising, cross-channel advertising)

We still care about tier 2 because there’s some level of interest, but it’s not enough to merit immediate sales outreach.

By bringing intent data to your account list, you’ll be able to highlight which accounts are already searching for solutions like yours across the web. 

From there, you can create a list of ‘hot’ accounts that receive the majority of your marketing investment and sales outreach—for us, these are tier 1 accounts.

Here’s a breakdown of the play:

  • Problem: Your universe of target accounts is far too large for your budget and sales team to work efficiently, so you need to know who to prioritize first.
  • Goal: Build a sustainable pipeline with shorter deal cycles.
  • Audience: Target accounts showing higher levels of intent on key topics related to your business.
  • Tactic: Run higher-value plays like digital ads, email, e-gifting, and personalized sales outreach.
  • KPIs: Engaged accounts, appointments booked, opportunities created

For BetterCloud, intent plays a key role in their overall targeting strategy, helping them focus their engagement strategies on the accounts that truly matter.

Here’s a snapshot of how they do it:

  • Work with sales to align on each seller’s top accounts
  • Prioritize accounts showing intent via sites like G2Crowd
  • Focus on region-specific accounts with personalized messaging
  • Nurture accounts through the funnel with targeted campaigns that pull people closer to sales

“For BetterCloud, it’s not just account-based marketing, it’s account-based everything. The core of our approach is getting marketing and sales aligned on our target accounts and implementing scalable tactics that will drive pipeline by hitting the right accounts at the right time with the right message. 

That requires a laser-focus on which accounts are more ready to buy, and developing account-based programs that allow us to prioritize budget and sales outreach in a smart way.”
— Derek Ries, Director of Marketing Ops, BetterCloud

How to check the play

There’s a lot of buzz around intent data, but it’s not enough to close deals on its own. In addition to defining and acting on levels of intent, foolproof your play with the following checkpoints:

  • Did you select intent topic clusters that align best with your business?
  • Did you develop a clear plan for how you’ll tier resources against high-intent accounts over others?
  • Did you pause to think what other use cases might benefit from intent?
  • Did you consider the do’s & don’ts that will make you most successful?

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