Shadow Pipeline – accounting for the missing dollars

Shadow Pipeline – accounting for the missing dollarsWell its summertime, a time when we turn down the volume of campaigns and look at the business impact we were able to drive. It’s my favorite time of year to reassess based on our stated strategy and tweak our tactics to match. But can you really get a good handle on the business impact in real time? Not really.

Just because you decided to throw an event at the beginning of the year doesn’t mean anyone wanted to buy your solution or even had the funding to buy your solution. Budget cycles dictate this ebb and flow. You get your budget in January and the decision to fund the typical roster of technology projects at your client was decided upon in December. I always tried to “front load” my budget to get the most impact in the first quarter for 2 reasons: to get a jump on the competition but also to stuff the pipeline early so your impact would be recognized in this calendar year rather than the next year when no one remembers your campaign.

It’s a fallacy to think we as marketers can understand the business impact of our programs in a mere 6 month period – after all we are in B2B marketing not B2C. There are no impulse purchases in Technology or Consulting Services. It’s a highly considered purchase.

There are dollars sitting in your pipeline just waiting to show your marketing impact – what I like to call the shadow pipeline. Projecting those dollars that are showing up in proposal volume as a possible percentage of wins (based on historical win rates) is one way to account for this year’s impact.

There are other shadow dollars that are harder to account for that haven’t shown up yet in the pipeline – you know those projects that magically appear once they get to proposal stage! Depending on your sales force and their comfort with your CRM system you may see some of these “fly in” proposals.

My advice is to use this time of year not just to readjust the current tactics in your marketing plan but to also go back over last years plan to see how much impact your team had. You will be surprised but the results but it will also give you a better sense for how you are doing so far this year.

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