How Do You Find Those White Spaces In Your Pipeline?

By Sean Zinsmeister, Head Of Product Marketing, ThoughtSpot

Every sales leader, in every company, is searching for a killer growth angle. We all want to know how to squeeze more out of our pipeline. The best go-to-market managers differentiate themselves by pinpointing key segments where they can close deals quickly. However, this isn’t a code many people can easily crack.

Whether you know it or not, your company is sitting on at least some “white space” of untapped opportunities that are already in your funnel. Few businesses realise how much potential revenue they’re actually leaving on the table, but we’re seeing more and more elite sales and marketing shops figure out how to turn pipeline gaps into revenue growth upwards of 10% – and I’ve had the privilege of learning from several of them.

One thing I’ve noticed in top-notch Sales VPs is that it all starts with how good they are at forecasting pipeline. But even when management is great at predicting how much revenue each rep and each channel will bring in, high-growth companies are never quite on target. That’s why identifying gaps is crucial to meeting sales goals.

Once you determine where your team is missing the mark, you need to make adjustments quickly to address those gaps. This could mean reassigning territories, changing the makeup of the team, mandating training programmes, etc. Good managers go through this cycle again and again to optimise and perfect sales motions until they hit or exceed their number.

The second stage in that sales management cycle – identifying gaps – is the toughest to nail, especially as a company evolves. But I’ve found that the gray area of discovering hidden gems already sitting in a CRM or Marketing Automation system is actually one of those variables that can have a large impact on the topline.

Tips for Finding the White Space in Your Pipeline

At Infer (a company I formerly worked at), we relied heavily on dashboards and scorecards that size up our pipeline across the buyer’s journey – from marketing engagement, to sales development, to active opportunities. I’ve found it hugely valuable to look at each of these layers through the lens of just two or three main indicators. For example, how many logos can we close off existing leads or accounts? How much potential revenue does that account for? Here’s an example of the at-a-glance view we use to monitor our white space at Infer:

Let’s dig into the three specific ways sales and marketing teams can find untapped growth to add up to the overall opportunity illustrated above.

Scour Your Marketing Systems

Any company that’s been selling for a while probably has a chunk of leads buried in some type of archive. Too many good leads end up neglected in so-called “nurturing” programs and are never heard from again. While most sales folks assume that old leads are worthless, they can actually be the fastest route to growth when activated, because these are contacts or accounts that already know something about your product. By looking for leads that haven’t been touched in a while but still retain ideal customer characteristics, marketing can often resurface high-potential sales prospects that are worth another try.

Analyse Sales Development Outreach

But if you stop with your marketing database, you’re still missing out on some precious white space. The next layer to analyse is sales development (SDR) outreach by looking at how much opportunity is in the funnel this quarter. Whether SDRs sit in your marketing or sales team, consider which accounts each rep should go after and how they should load balance them to avoid anything sitting idle. It can be very helpful to employ a profiling tool that lets you slice and dice your target markets by key attributes. When reviewing your pipeline in this multi-dimensional way, you’ll find a bunch of accounts ripe for more aggressive SDR follow up, and can provide reps with context into why and how they should target them.

Stay on Top of Active and Inactive Sales Opportunities

The third layer of white space falls under the purview of quota-carrying account executives (AEs). By now, leads are well-qualified and what’s important is making sure reps stay on top of them – especially those best-fit accounts you really want to convert. This may include older closed/lost deals that should be revisited (depending on the circumstances of the original decision not to buy).

It’s also helpful to analyse whether any reps have opportunities stuck at certain stages for too long and figure out why. Once you know where things are slowing down, you can invest in the right managers, reps and resources to improve cycle times. You might want to fine-tune your sales SLAs, or re-assign certain leads to SDRs or marketing so that AEs can double-down on top accounts.

Many sales leaders underestimate just how much revenue falls through the cracks at each of these stages. Of course, there are no free rides, but I believe every company can do a better job of nurturing golden leads and accounts throughout the buyer’s journey. There are always gaps somewhere in the go-to-market process, and using a methodical approach to fill those gaps has proven successful. Time and time again, I’ve seen businesses expose significant revenue growth by executing on these three key white space opportunities.

Sean Zinsmeister was a senior director of product marketing at Infer. He is now head of product marketing at ThoughtSpot. You can reach him via Twitter @SZinsmeister or on LinkedIn.

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