Podcast: Build a Marketing Plan That Generates Pipeline

| | Time to Read: 17 minutes

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Episode topic: How to Build a Marketing Plan That Generates Pipeline

In this episode, host Shahin Hoda chats with Joanne Schofield, Director of Marketing, ANZ at The Access Group, about how marketers can build a plan that generates a pipeline. 

Joanne advises marketers to start with their organisation’s business objectives. She then recommends working backwards from the company-wide revenue growth projections to develop a realistic target and a plan for the marketing team. 

During the conversation, Joanne also talks about important considerations while building an effective marketing plan such as the role of SDRs, product marketing, historical conversion rates and handling marketing sourced versus marketing influenced revenue.

This episode’s guest

Joanne Schofield, Director of Marketing at The Access Group

Joanne Schofield is the Director of Marketing at The Access Group, where she leads the ANZ region. 

With more than 17+ years in the industry, she has been a part of several global organisations such as Rackspace, Kronos and PGi. Her areas of expertise include Go-to-Market Strategy Development, Customer Segmentation, Financial Planning, Demand Generation, Content Marketing, Social Media, Marketing Budgeting and ROI analysis.

Joanne is a passionate marketer who believes that being curious and authentic ensures strong, long term partnerships that provide ongoing insights into the ever-changing world and a strong base to develop exceptional sales results. 

Joanne is also a wine connoisseur, loves hiking and is passionate about the game of netball!

Connect with her on LinkedIn

Conversation segments on this episode:

  • 01:40] Start with business goals 
  • [02:58] Define which business goals marketers must align themselves with
  • [04:11] Deciding pipeline and revenue targets from a marketing perspective
  • [05:34] Role of historical conversion factors
  • [07:57] What to do after revenue numbers and pipeline metrics are decided?
  • [13:22] Have the confidence to demonstrate the commercial value from marketing and not the volume
  • [14:47] How to differentiate between marketing-sourced versus marketing-influenced revenue?
  • [19:34] Role of sales reps in marketing - they assist in providing feedback to marketing on the quality of a lead
  • [23:37] Advice for B2B marketers - walk in the shoes of the seller
  • [24:34] Exciting thing about B2B marketing - how hybrid work will change the GTM strategies?

Resources mentioned on this episode:

About the Growth Colony Podcast

On this podcast, you'll be hearing from B2B founders, CMOs, marketing & sales leaders about their successes, failures, what is working for them today in the B2B marketing world and everything in between.

Produced by Shahin Hoda & Alexander Hipwell, from xGrowth

Get in touch!

We would love to get your questions, ideas and feedback about Growth Colony, email alexander@growthcolony.org

 


Episode Full Transcript:

[00:36] Shahin Hoda  Hello, everyone. Welcome to another episode. I'm Shahin Hoda with xGrowth. And today, I'm talking to Joanne Schofield, Director of Marketing, APAC at the Access Group, about how B2B organisations should approach building a marketing plan that will actually result in generating pipeline in 2022. On that note, let's dive in. Joanne, thanks for joining us.

[01:00] Joanne Schofield  Thanks, Shahin. Great to be here.

[01:02] Shahin Hoda  Super excited. It's towards the end of the year, and this episode is going to come out either towards the end of the year or early next year, which is really timely. A lot of people are doing marketing plans, they are, you know, putting all those bits and pieces together. And I think it's really timely for us to talk about, how do you go about and put put a marketing plan together? How does that look like? So I want to start with that question of where do you start when you want to put a marketing plan together? Where do you start?

[01:34] Joanne Schofield  I know you probably get people saying at the beginning, because it's an obvious one, but where is the beginning? So it's really with the business goals. I think there's a tendency for marketers to dive straight into marketing goals, and not necessarily checking how they align to business goals, because business goals can often be very varied and broad. So it's really about defining the subset of goals as it relates to marketing. So I think we've got to sometimes stop ourselves from diving into that tactical approach. Because we've got to also be able to measure those outcomes and tactics don't necessarily start from the right place around things like measurement. 

[02:14] Joanne Schofield  So I think there's a reason why marketers do that. It's often because things can't be measured. Or it's often difficult to define, you know, what should the outcomes look like? And I think if that's coming up for your listeners, I think the one thing that has to happen as part of the planning process is what can I fundamentally change about the process that allows for me to be able to measure my outcome or my team's outcome. I guarantee you that if your listeners do that, if they demonstrate that a fundamental change to process will provide visibility around commercial outcomes, people won't fight that. 

[02:53] Joanne Schofield  So even though the business goals may be broad, it's then about defining which goals marketing must align to support. So for most marketers, this could be a mix of growth, revenue, or cost. All of those goals carry a commercial number that marketers often find really challenging to align to. So defining that goal and measuring it is absolutely a great key. And the reason that's key is because without it, marketing is just simply a cost center. So in excess, the way that we look at this is it's predominantly and there are other goals, but it's predominantly a sales and marketing pipeline goal. So that's to align to the business goal of driving organic growth comprising new business and existing customer growth.

[03:39] Shahin Hoda  Got it. Got it, got it. So think about that pipeline revenue, where, you know, where would you start with that? So that's interesting because, you know, I've been in situations where somebody comes in and is like, okay, our target for next year is $5 million. And, and you're like, okay, that's cool to have that business objective. But, you know, if you give me, I can't generate $5 million out of $50,000, right? How do you decide on those revenue and pipeline targets from a marketing perspective?

[04:17] Joanne Schofield  It's a great question, because often they are handed down exactly as you said. It's this because it's based on a percentage growth increase from the previous year. You may be in a startup where you literally are starting from scratch and the number is quite arbitrary. I think having history to be able to back out the facts or feasible targets is really helpful. But the process that we undertake at Access is we start from the goal in mind. So we take that $5 million, and we work backwards. So we start with the predicted growth expectations which get applied. 

[04:52] Joanne Schofield  So let's assume that 5 million is somewhat realistic, because we've got history to determine that, you know that a significant growth rate, or it's a growth rate that is achievable across the business, not just from a marketing perspective. And then we look at how it gets applied to sales bookings, or what we call audit intake. So we then look at all the historical conversion factors. So that's, if you start with the goal in mind, which is your audit intake number, so that's your sales bookings number, and then you start to work backwards, your pipeline, for example, should be around three times that number. Now, that's a reasonably generic number. 

[05:32] Joanne Schofield  But in most cases, you'd have historical conversion factors by product by portfolio, and you apply those. So I can't emphasize that enough, I'm just giving you an example of what the average is, but if you've got historical conversion factors, those are the numbers that you need to understand and plug into your model. So let's assume it's three times that number in the pipeline for new business, for existing customers who are purchasing a new product, it might be 2.5 times or an existing customer, adding more of what they've already got, it might be, say two or less. 

[06:04] Joanne Schofield  So then we take those historical conversion factors, we apply that to the pipeline value. So, we've taken let's say, new business, we've times the average order by three, and then we determined through an average order value, what's the volume of sales qualified leads that we need to apply? And then we work the same way, again, for marketing qualified leads. Occasionally you're going to get arbitrary numbers in there. And you have to challenge that. But what it does, you've got, first of all, you've got the ability to measure something so you can manage it. And you can start having conversations. 

[06:39] Joanne Schofield  If you have a ridiculous number applied to a marketing qualified target, you're like, well, that's not achievable with the budget I've got, maybe we need to rethink. Is it a messaging issue, is it a product issue, is just not viable in the market? So already, you can start to see the conversations that will challenge your marketing plan in the right way, because you've got the data there to support it. And don't forget, we've also got to consider that sales and marketing conversion factors are really different. So sales will typically convert a lead that they've self-generated at a much higher conversion rate than marketing. So that's got to be factored into the model as well.

[07:14] Shahin Hoda  Got it. Yeah. So the source of that opportunity or lead is extremely important as well. It is going to change the conversion rates later on in the funnel in the sales process. I think that's a such an important point to raise, because a lot of companies would, some of the smaller companies, in my experience, maybe they've done a lot of work through maybe the founders' connections, and then they're like, Hey, we're going to go maybe have an inbound or an outbound strategy. And they're like, so our pipeline looks like this. And you're like, no, that's a referral pipeline. That is, those numbers are way different when you're looking at the other channels. So I think that's such an important point. Okay, let's say I have my numbers in place. I know, you know, in terms of leads, or in terms of opportunities, what I need to hit, where do I go from there? What are the next steps?

[08:09] Joanne Schofield  So I'm really fortunate enough to have a solid and fantastic capable product marketing team. And I realised that some listeners might go, that's a bit of a luxury. And what if I don't have that in my business? Look, I haven't had product marketing through my whole career. So it is a wonderful, wonderful thing to have, because it really cements that voice of the customer. So it's about what's happening in the market. And what are our what are our customers telling us. How does that relate to them? So you can still do that. And obviously, I've done that in many of the roles that I've had. But it's very nice to have someone who's fully qualified in product marketing to be able to bring this to the table.

[08:48] Joanne Schofield  So we'll often start with the current state. So we look at simple, simple, what's working, and why? What's not working, and why? And then we look at the ideal customer profile against that current state review. So that will typically lead into a refinement of messaging around the solutions that could already be in the market. But we've you know, I know that this is probably marketing 101 to a lot of listeners, but you know, making sure that narrative is about pain points, and not exclusively products is really important, you know. And I think it's really easy to fall back into, oh, we've got these amazing features and functionality because we sell products, and you sort of got to keep coming back up to okay, but why does the customer care, so the so-what factor. 

[09:31] Joanne Schofield  We've also we're really fortunate we've got a sometimes it's a good thing, and sometimes it's hard. We've got a plethora of products from the UK. So we have this option to be able to assess the market around suitability for bringing those solutions to market where there might be an opportunity but we've also able to acquire locally capability, potentially that can't be bought down or can't be localised. So that makes for a really interesting dynamic when you're building your marketing plans. There's lots of shiny new things. But you know, we've also got a really sizable and loyal and long serving customer base that we need to keep delivering value to. 

[10:08] Joanne Schofield  So I think you're going to have a lot of different design thinking within the room and a lot of cross-collaboration across functions. And it's easy to be the magpie and go, oh, that that looks great. And we should do this. But you've got to also plan for the fact that it might be some time before that's a minimum viable product that you can bring to market. So I think the messaging really anchors that the product set and the messaging and the customer base that you have, making sure that those ideal customer profiles are really succinct and are constantly reviewed. And that the messaging is really an anchor point from where you go, you step off next. 

[10:44] Joanne Schofield  I talked briefly about making sure there's collaboration across go to market stakeholders, sales, product, customer success, they've got to be part of the planning conversations, otherwise, you just literally you're rolling in a race by yourself. And so, you know, it's important that at the table, there's agreement around the various target customer cohorts. And it's amazing how when you have that conversation, it really flushes out these big ideas around, okay, well, actually is that plausible in the period for which we're planning? 

[11:17] Joanne Schofield  And then lastly, we look at, we look at applying once we've got that fully agreed across all stakeholders, we look at the campaign concepts against each of these. So the you know, the last thing you do is the how. We look at past digital performance, that's a really key data set that drives decisions around what we invest in to drive the outcomes. But the plan ultimately, and this is the full circle moment, the plan is not final until the activity can be mapped against a forecast that will achieve or ideally over achieve the pipeline goals that you started with.

[11:53] Shahin Hoda  Got it. Got it. Okay, I love that. So, you know, once you have those numbers in place, once you have that pipeline success metrics in place, look at the ICP, discuss that with sales, make sure that you're all on the same page and everything is mapped out properly, then start looking at messaging, and then think about campaigns, right? Did I get that? Did I get that correctly? 

[02:15] Joanne Schofield  Absolutely. 

[12:16] Shahin Hoda  Got it. Okay. Tell me a little bit about some of the mistakes you've made until getting, yeah, until getting to this because it's, you know, it might be intuitive for you right now. But I know that you probably have gone through multiple iterations. And oh, that doesn't work, or this doesn't work. Or you've seen other people, other marketers go through that? What are some of the mistakes that either you've made, or you see that marketers make when they're trying to put a marketing plan together?

[12:49] Joanne Schofield  Yeah, look, I've made loads. But, you know, the benefit of hindsight is a wonderful thing. And I'm a confident person, I'm a confident marketer. But actually, I want to talk about confidence a little bit more because often it was lack of confidence to change the process. So the simple act of being able to assign a value when an SDR passes a lead is ready to be accepted by sales. I mean, it's such a simple concept for you to be able to demonstrate the commercial value that you bring to the business. You know, I wish I'd had that confidence to make that change earlier in my career to say, nope, the process as it stands right now doesn't work, because of many, many different reasons. 

[13:34] Joanne Schofield  But primarily, how can we ascertain if we have confidence in the marketing plan to achieve the audit intake number, if we can't ultimately measure the contribution we're making now. And I know people define measurement in lots of different ways. But it really was a breakthrough for me to say, actually, this is the language of the CEO. When he's looking at your SQL number, or your SQL or MQL, or whatever terminology or model you use. 

[14:02] Joanne Schofield  I don't know if anybody's noticed. But the eyes do tend to glaze over when you're talking about a volume number and not a value number, because it doesn't give them an immediate line of sight to achieving that ultimately the sales target. So I think I wish I'd had the confidence to be able to challenge the process instead of accepting the status quo, and really been quite fixated on the value contribution, rather than just being perceived as cost center continuously and having to always fight for budget, when you can't really prove what that budget has actually delivered to the business.

[14:37] Shahin Hoda  Yeah, that's very true. Very true. Now, you talked about SDRs. I want to come back to that. But before talking about SDRs you also touched on again, measurement and  you brought that up and really talked about that talking in the right tone to the leadership outside of marketing. How do you approach marketing-source and marketing-influence revenue?

[15:03] Joanne Schofield  I love this question because it's so messy. Because there's all this debate that happens within organisations and you say to a seller, well is that influencers it sourced and they're looking at you like you're from Mars, and we don't care, we just want the deal. And a lead is a lead. We own the total sales and marketing source pipeline at Access. That's still a big change and an adjustment for everyone involved. And it takes some adjusting to as well as for sales. There's a kind of why. Why do we own that? When the investment that we have around budget is firmly invested in marketing-sourced. 

[15:38] Joanne Schofield  But it means it really, it really means that we don't actually have a conversation about marketing sourced or marketing influenced, right? Because you could say that the marketing-influence comes in the support of the pursuit of supporting self gen for sales. So part of the marketing plan is to ensure that sales actually have what they need to be successful to self generate. So with higher conversion rates that we talked about earlier, and they have much faster close rates against those conversion rates, of course. 

[16:07] Joanne Schofield  Even if you have a high performing marketing engine, if sales are not self-generating, or you're not providing support for that self-gen, the business is ultimately not leveraging every facet of capability, it has to achieve those goals. I use this, it's a bit crude, the analogy but it's you're leaving money on the table. Because you have this capability, the strong capability within a sales organisation, that should be leveraged to best effect. And that's where you start to get this really much different conversation with sales.

[16:37] Joanne Schofield  Because you're measured on the same outcome. So it really dynamically changes the conversation internally, when marketing has to take ownership of the whole pipeline. It forces you know, closer relationship and mutual understanding of you know, that we're all pulling to achieve the same outcome. So while Access is really, really new to this market, and in Australia, we've really only been here since the beginning of 2020. The UK team just won the B2B Marketing Team of the Year Award for UK B2B marketing awards. And this model really underpins that win.

[17:10] Shahin Hoda  That's really cool. That's a very interesting concept that you say, marketing owns a pipeline. And I feel like sometimes marketers like, oh, but how do we contribute to the other parts of the pipeline? And I think that's where kind of pipeline acceleration, sales enablement come into play where, you know, if, just like you said at the beginning, if they have the numbers of different stages, then one of the marketing objectives could be, hey, if we're looking at a 30% conversion over here, how can we bring that up to 35% conversion? Or how we, you know, sales cycle is another component. If it's taking 100 and something days, 120 days, how can we bring that down to 100 days? And can we enable sales better if they enable sales better to do that? And I don't think that's gonna happen.

[18:02] Joanne Schofield  They're absolutely the right questions. 

[18:04] Shahin Hoda  Yeah, I don't think that's gonna happen unless you say marketing, you own pipeline, which is very awesome.

[18:11] Joanne Schofield  It is. It's terrifying and it's awesome all at the same time. And listeners will probably be really, you know that as well? But what it actually affords is if you're not seeing the performance that you wanted to see in the marketing side of things for whatever reasons that may be, you've got to back up, you know. So you've got the sales-gen model, if it's working well. You've got the ability to overachieve on that. So that there's balance. And ultimately the goal is achieved. So it allows the Northstar metric of audit intake to be at the forefront. You know, it's very polarizing, and I love the conversations that change dramatically when there's that joint ownership, but to get to the number.

[18:57] Shahin Hoda  I imagine. I imagine, I think, you know, it also will get marketing quite a lot more involved with the sales team and therefore it just generates certain insights for the marketing team that they would not have, because they were previously they were so removed from that what happens after they kind of handover an MQL to sales. So that's very interesting and I love that model. The other question I want to ask, I want to come back to the SDR. Sales development, lead market development, lead, lead development lead, rep sorry, all those reps, but SDR LDR, MDR whatever you want to call it, why is that role an important part of the equation for you?

[19:43] Joanne Schofield   It will, it's absolutely critical. You know, they bring all of the pipeline mechanics that I've spoken to together. So at Access, the RSTRs are gold on the marketing source number, because the cost for the SDR actually sits under marketing. And that actually is an important differentiator because there's a lot of conversation around, should it report to sales, should it report to marketing? I think serious decisions says that it's actually around about 50/50, in terms of reporting that leads to sales and marketing. 

[20:12] Joanne Schofield  The important difference was the cost sits under marketing, in terms of headcount, the pathway is still sales. Because they are ultimately still sellers. And, you know, some do move into marketing, but the majority want to move into a sales role moving forward. So I think that, that's quite key. But of course, we're also trying to aspire to achieve these amazing conversion rates that sales will generate themselves and SDRs are really key to achieving that. But I think the most important thing, the most important role they have is they're kind of like this quality assurance team, right? 

[20:47] Joanne Schofield  So they're assessing and constantly feeding back, what's a quality lead. So they have conversations with the sellers that they're aligned to because that seller has to accept that lead. And until they do, it doesn't count as a pipeline. So it's not visible as a value or contribution. And so they build rapport with each other to understand, help me make sure I'm qualifying to a really high level, so that your conversion factors are really strong. And on the flip side, that feedback back to marketing to say, I wouldn't try this again, or this, we could tweak it in this way. 

[21:23] Joanne Schofield  So they're part of the planning process. They're part of the dialogue and the teams we meet well. At the moment, they're meeting a lot more regularly. But it's usually weekly to say, tell us what's going on with the leads that you're working in the queue. Provide us with that direct feedback. And sometimes that can be a missing link in teams, even if they report into marketing, sometimes that dynamic, that circular dynamic is not happening, or marketing just hasn't joined the conversation.

[21:51] Shahin Hoda  Joanne, this has been absolutely awesome. And you've shared so much insight. And, you know, I think you've structured the process really well, before kind of moving to the rapid fire questions, is there anything that you feel like we should cover, that maybe I didn't ask, or we need to touch on, does anything come to mind?

[22:12] Joanne Schofield  I think it's just reiterating that, you know, measurement is key. In order to have and keep that seat at the table, we need to be able to demonstrate our contribution to the overarching business goal of growth. But also remember, it's iterative, and it never stops changing. It's got to be reviewed constantly. So that's yeah, that's how I would summarize the model that we've built.

[22:34] Shahin Hoda  I love it. Alright, let's do our rapid fire questions. So the first question is, what is one resource? It could be a blog, it could be a book, a podcast, talk, whatever it is, that has fundamentally changed the way you work or live that comes to mind?

[22:48] Joanne Schofield   Well, of course, I'm not going to choose either of those things. It's actually the design thinking assessments, things like human brain dominance index, Gallup Strengthsfinder, teaching people, teaching you what motivates individuals. So for me, that's been a real key change in the way that I lead is understanding how what motivates people. You know, you want diversity in your team, you sometimes come across people that are similar to you, and it's horrifying. You know, you're looking for someone that's completely different and is happy to challenge the status quo. And I think these assessment tools, if you can get your team engaged, or if your company's happy to fund some of these,, they're game changing. They really give you a deep insight into the team that you're working with.

[23:33] Shahin Hoda  Question two, if you could only give B2B marketers one advice, what would that advice be?

[23:41] Joanne Schofield  Walk a day in the shoes of the seller?

[23:43] Shahin Hoda  Shahin Hoda  I love it. Question three, who are some of the influencers that you follow on a regular basis in the B2B space?

[23:52] Joanne Schofield  You know, I really, I like Andy Locke. I know, people probably say that all the time, fellow kiwi, but also he's just, there's no BS. He's straight down the line. He calls it as he sees it. And he's got this, you know, really diverse experience that you sort of got or you've lived and breathed that got into the waves, and it just feels really authentic. But I also like Thomas Barta, he does this Marketing in a minute. And they're just little, they're just little things that remind you, you know, to stay the course and just, yep, what you're doing is the right thing that just reminds you of how to go about it.

[24:26] Shahin Hoda  I love it. Will definitely make sure that they're in the notes of the show. Thanks for that. And the last thing that I have a question that I have is what is something that excites you about B2B today?

[24:38] Joanne Schofield  You know, initially, I thought it's got to be tech, but I'm actually really curious to see what we do as we sort of start to come out of this whole hybrid way of working. You know, this fundamentally changes the dynamics of how people go to market because, you know, we've got this mobile workforce. So I'm sort of curious to see how that changes the way marketers go to market. 

[25:03] Shahin Hoda  Yeah, the post pandemic GTMs .

[25:05] Joanne Schofield   Yeah. 

[25:06] Shahin Hoda  Got it. Got it. Well, Joanne, this has been an absolutely awesome conversation. I really enjoyed this. And this, I feel like there's so much insight that you've shared here and summarised the whole marketing plan approach really nicely. So I really appreciate you coming on the podcast. And thank you so much for your time.

[25:28] Joanne Schofield  Thanks so much. Shahin. I really enjoyed the conversation as well. It's nice sometimes to stop and think about the things you do on a day to day basis. So I appreciate the invitation. 

[25:46] Shahin Hoda  My pleasure.


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