B2B Articles - July 15, 2021

Reallocating Event Budgets to Feed Your Sales Pipeline

By Michelle Ashmun, Senior Market Analyst & Research Writer


The trend of reduced business travel and in-person events continues, with the outlook of recovery being uncertain. Businesses need to compensate for the lost demand created during these events by changing their approach to sales and marketing.  

Ironpaper recently surveyed B2B leaders on their current marketing challenges. We sought to understand the pain points experienced with lead generation and sales enablement. Given that in-person events have been largely canceled or postponed, the survey asked about budget reallocation and expected growth drivers for the year. 

The survey found that 84% of companies relied on in-person events to drive demand. We wanted to understand where B2B companies expect to drive the most demand with those in-person events on hold. 

  • 38% of respondents answered customer experience improvements
  • 32% answered website improvements
  • 30% answered account-based marketing campaigns
  • 29% answered direct sales.  

These answers show the varied expectations for sources of demand recovery. There was no single answer leading by a wide margin to indicate consensus on a clear path forward.

The lack of clarity around lead generation, nurturing, and growth becomes evident since only 56% of survey respondents stated that they have enough qualified leads to fill their pipeline and succeed in their growth goals consistently. 34% stated their lead generation success fluctuates, and 6% said they could not consistently achieve their growth goals. Similarly, 3% stated they could not always fill their pipeline or achieve their growth goals. 

Challenges in a one-to-one setting

One-to-one selling stands out as an important approach. Respondents viewed effective one-to-one outreach (41%) as the factor contributing to the most success in their qualified lead generation strategy. We then reviewed the survey to identify roadblocks to success in this area. Respondents said the top challenge to nurturing leads is understanding the buyer’s motivations. Companies can mitigate this obstacle by capturing information on the buyer’s motivations during the lead generation process. Otherwise, lacking this information creates problems further along the pipeline.  

It isn’t easy to have the right sales approach without understanding the buyers’ motives. Companies should ask themselves: 

  • How can my team gain a better understanding of our buyer? 
  • How can they test that their messaging to buyers is successful?

The survey identified additional concerns about one-to-one outreach and sales processes. When asked to identify the most challenging part about generating qualified leads, 25% of respondents answered one-to-one outreach efforts are not scalable. Given the questions raised above, that may be a good thing. It doesn’t make sense to scale pursuits without a verified, effective strategy. In fact, one-to-one sales may not even need to be scaled. Consider instead that 27% of survey respondents cited the leads aren’t qualified as the top reason prospects drop out of the sales pipeline. In other words, it’s common for sales to waste their efforts pursuing unqualified leads, only for the prospects to drop out of the pipeline. 

An alternative to scaling up sales efforts is to increase effectiveness and efficiency by improving the lead qualification process. It starts with using your website and marketing and sales automation software to gather data relevant to the prospect’s motivations, interests, and buying stage. Data improvements include defining the right metrics to use as progress benchmarks. The improved data verifies and refines qualified leads’ motives which the sales team uses to adjust their approach and content to align better with their prospects. Iterating verification and adjustment creates a feedback loop to optimize the lead qualification process continuously.   

Ironpaper recently surveyed B2B leaders to learn the current state of sales and marketing and how companies are adapting amidst reduced in-person events. The survey also revealed that one-to-one outreach is still viewed as the most effective approach for qualified lead generation. Companies can discover the top obstacles to lead generation and improve their growth performance by optimizing their software, data, and processes. 

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