blog post

10 Mistakes to Avoid When Setting Up Pipeline for Your B2B SaaS

Anjali Barnwal
Anjali Barnwal
May 20, 2024
8 min read

Avoid common mistakes in setting up your B2B SaaS pipeline with our guide. Learn how to establish clear goals, integrate data, align teams, and use analytics to drive growth and streamline your sales process.A pipeline in a B2B SaaS is a mechanism to track the sales process from leads prospecting to closing it for organizing potential customers' journey through the sales process.

But, setting up the pipeline requires allocating resources and time.

Dedicating a minimum of four hours per month to manage each sales rep's pipeline witnessed a 14% higher revenue growth than those allocating less time.

However, building a B2B SaaS sales pipeline isn’t a cakewalk because of the complex nature of the B2B sales funnel. 

Reasons?

  • Longer B2B sales cycle
  • The involvement of multiple decision-makers. Harvard Business Review's The New Sales Imperative shares an average of 7 people are involved in B2B purchase decisions.
  • Complicated B2B SaaS products/services

Also, the buyer journey isn’t a linear one like traditional sales. Instead, the B2B sales will have prospects assessing multiple touchpoints before purchasing.

Sales journey in B2B SaaS
Sales journey in B2B SaaS

Prospects may enter and engage at various stages of the journey, influenced by online searches, peer referrals, social media, and third-party reviews.

Hence, any mistake in setting up a B2B SaaS pipeline can erode your efforts, impacting both sales and marketing teams.
Let’s explore these mistakes and ways to avoid them.

#1: No Clarity on Short and Long-Term Pipeline Goals 

The mistake lies in not setting clear, differentiated goals for the immediate future (short-term) and strategic planning (long-term).

It causes disequilibrium in the pipeline where the marketing team marks MQLs at high velocity (faster conversion to MQLs). But then, SQLs will progress slowly due to less interest or high price rates, resulting in a bottleneck.

Here’s how you can avoid this mistake:

  • Set SMART Goals

SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound) goals make objectives concrete and measurable.

Smart goal vs vague goal example
Smart goal vs vague goal example

When done correctly, your SaaS marketing and sales team will aim for quantified results within the specific period. It ensures that efforts are aligned across teams to boost the pipeline's velocity, where leads through the sales funnel more swiftly, increasing the overall win rate.

  • Conduct Regular Market Analysis

Identify emerging trends, customer segments, and market analysis to refine your lead generation strategies. 

It ensures your pipeline is filled with high-quality, relevant leads that are more likely to convert.

Here’s how you can do this:

  • Identify industry trend
    • Collect the data through reports from industry associations, market research firms, and financial analyses.
    • Do a SWOT analysis to understand your position in the market.
  • Analyze your competition
    • Analyze competitors' offerings, marketing strategies, pricing models, and customer feedback. Here, tools like SEMrush, Ahrefs, or SpyFu can help.
  • Acquire customer feedback
    • Collect feedback directly from your customers through surveys, interviews, and reviews. Social listening tools like Brandwatch or Mention can also help monitor social media interactions to analyze customer sentiments.

#2. Lack of Clear Buyer Personas

Without precise buyer personas, your sales and marketing teams won't know the specific needs, likes, and how their target audience decides to buy something.

It results in flat sales pitches since they cannot tailor their approach to match the unique motivations of different buyer types.

When you set up the buyer persona, it will help you in —

  • Driving effective communication to address specific pain points and interests.
  • Aligning sales activities as teams can refine their pitches and approach to tailor conversations that resonate with buyers’ motivations.

Consider the following to avoid this mistake.

  • Leverage Data-Driven Persona Development

Move beyond basic demographics and job titles. Instead, have machine learning algorithms to analyze customer data, social media interactions, and engagement patterns in a pipeline.

For instance, have your marketing team clearly define a persona about its job profile, demographics, aspirations, goals, etc.

Here’s an image demonstrating an ideal persona:

Buyer Persona Example
Buyer Persona Example

Such a detailed persona reveals deeper insights into buyer behaviors and preferences that feed the sales team in tailoring pitches that resonate.

  • Provide Persona-Based Sales Training

Equip your sales team with persona-specific insight like common objectives, preferred communication styles, and key decision criteria. This can drive sales training customization, including role-playing exercises and scenario-based planning on these personas.

#3. Incomplete Data Integration

Using various data sources and systems like CRM, marketing automation tools, customer support platforms, etc., may overwhelm your teams.

The end goal is to have cohesive data on prospects and customers.

But, incomplete data integration means a certain disconnection, which may lead to — 

  • Losing out on opportunities since sales and marketing teams can't personalize interactions.
  • Inefficient lead scoring (more on it later) and prioritization that results in focusing on leads with less conversion potential.
  • Delayed or inaccurate sales forecasting, especially when integrating CRM with AI-based tools like Revlitix for predictive pipeline analysis.

Here are some solutions.

    • Implement a Centralized Data Platform
      Have a centralized platform to integrate data from all customer touchpoints (CRM, email marketing, customer support, etc.).
      It will offer the sales and marketing team a cohesive pipeline view to drive personalization and efficiency.
    • Regularly Audit and Clean Data
      Regular data audits ensure data integrity across systems.
      Key tasks include -
      • Identifying and merging duplicate records
      • Correcting inaccuracies
      • Updating outdated information to maintain a reliable database, etc.
    • Adopt Integration Tools and APIs
      Integration tools and APIs drive seamless data flow across different systems.
      You can either choose SaaS platforms that offer native integrations or can be connected through third-party middleware solutions.
      For instance, Salesforce (for CRM) and Mailchimp (for email marketing) may operate independently, creating data silos.

      Integrated API for email automation


      With API integration, when a Salesforce registers a new lead, it can automatically add prospects to the appropriate Mailchimp mailing list (say, looking for a demo?).

#4. Ignoring Lead Qualification Criteria

There needs to be specific standards in determining whether a prospect is a good fit for your product. 

Otherwise, it can impact the pipeline setup resulting in — 

  • Underdeveloped sales processes
  • Misalignment between sales and marketing w.r.t what constitutes a qualified lead.
  • Overlooked customer lifecycle stages in the qualification process.
  • Inadequate feedback mechanisms to refine lead qualification criteria over time.

The following actions can help avoid this mistake.

    • Develop Clear Qualification Criteria
      Have your marketing and sales teams collaborate to set qualification criteria that both agree upon. Ideally, every qualified lead should be tested through this framework to decide on further progression.
      The image below shows where the lead qualification framework fits into filtering leads.

      Lead qualification framework


      The factors considered in the lead qualification framework are based on demographic information, behavior, needs, and the potential for conversion.
      This includes -
      • Industry-focused targets wherein you know that certain industry users do covert the most.
      • The size of the company (say, 100-250 employees).
      • Decision-maker role where you prioritize leads based on the targeted individual’s position in the company (For instance, a project manager, team lead, CTO, etc.)
    • Implement Lead Scoring
    • When you don't prioritize leads, you waste crucial time and resources.
      Therefore, lead prioritization based on predefined criteria requires adopting lead scores. It needs a scoring system that assesses and prioritizes leads based on how they occupy the pipeline.
      For example, assigning weightage based on how they interacted with your SaaS brand. For example, whitepaper downloaded, webinar attended, viewed product price page, etc.

Example of a Lead Scoring Model
Example of a Lead Scoring Model

Then, assign points to each criterion based on its importance. 

For example, a lead downloading your ebook may receive 5 points, while those who watched a webinar get an additional 10 points, and so on.

Looking to boost your pipeline velocity?
Try Revlitix Reportsand gain enhanced pipeline visibility for effective decision-making.

Mistake #5. Not Updating the Pipeline

Pipeline management requires regularly reviewing and adjusting details such as —

  • Leads and deals status
  • Contact information
  • Projected close dates
  • Interactions or communications

This practice provides a pipeline reflecting the current status of the sales process, allowing accurate tracking, forecasting, and strategizing.

Pipelines remain outdated because of — 

  • Perceived hassle of manual updates
  • Lack of clear ownership for pipeline maintenance
  • Underestimating the importance of up-to-date information.

What’s the real-time impact of this?

  • Increased risk of attrition as you miss signs of customer dissatisfaction that increase churn risk.
  • Inaccurate sales forecasting which complicates planning and resource allocation.
  • Negative impact on personalization since old data reduces the effectiveness of customer pain points and interactions efficacy of the sales team.

Implement automated alerts in the pipeline for sales reps to update deal statuses weekly. 

Moreover, the below actions can help.

  • Implement Data Cleansing Practices

Regularly cleanse your pipeline data, remove duplicates, correct inaccuracies, and update stale information. 

For instance, a monthly cleanup process could involve verifying lead contact information and removing entries that no longer match your qualification criteria.

  • Automate Updates with CRM Integration

CRM tools integrate email, call logs, and marketing automation platforms.  So, every interaction with a lead automatically updates their status in the pipeline.

For example, let CRM update a lead's status to "Engaged" after they open an email and click on a product demo link.

Mistake #6. Failure to Align Marketing and Sales Teams

What happens when the marketing and sales teams operate in silos? They will chase different goals without a unified strategy. 

For example, the marketing team may emphasize MQL, whilst the sales team may focus on connecting with clients. And this leads to a gap in goals.

The goal should be revenue, lead, etc. 

Goal Gaps in Sales and Marketing
Goal Gaps in Sales and Marketing

Key consequences of such misalignments are — 

  • Inconsistent messaging is where prospects receive a mix of discount messages and use cases (ideally happening at different stages in the funnel).
  • Wasted leads wherein high-quality leads leak through the cracks as your teams are not aligned with what constitutes a 'qualified lead.'

This mistake is avoidable if you can act on the following:

  • Integrate CRM and Marketing Automation Tools

Integrating marketing automation with your CRM system offers a seamless flow of information between marketing and sales.

Both teams will gain access to the same data on lead generation, nurturing activities, and conversion rates. Also, they can track the lead journey from initial engagement to sale to brew targeted follow-up strategies for effective conversions.

  • Ensure Shared Goals and KPIs

Let both teams share common objectives and key performance indicators (KPIs). Such alignment helps both departments achieve the same end goal, like revenue increment or enhanced customer retention rates. 

For example, both teams can focus on boosting the conversion rate from lead to customer by 20% within the quarter.

Mistake #7. Not Tracking Opportunities

Your SaaS firm must systematically monitor and analyze potential sales or expansion opportunities. This is true for both — existing customer bases and prospective leads.

Not doing the same is a mistake that may create issues when setting up the pipeline.

Sometimes, you can attribute this mistake to a lack of resources, inadequate tools, or the absence of a defined process to capture and evaluate opportunities.

The major consequences of this mistake are — 

  • Strategic misalignment with evolving customer expectations that makes your offerings obsolete or less competitive over time.
  • Delayed response to market demand means missing out on a new industry pivot.

For instance, your product may focus on remote work solutions, but you notice unexpected interest from educational institutions. With close tracking and analyzing these leads, you can tailor marketing propositions and sales pitches to highlight features for remote learning.

The following actions can help you avoid this mistake.

  • Integrate Advanced Analytics and CRM

Advanced analytics within your CRM can automatically identify possible business opportunities. It analyzes how potential customers behave and interact with your business (across different touchpoints like social media, website, etc.). Such integrations reveal untapped markets, emerging needs, and product expansion or customization opportunities.

  • Establish a Dedicated Opportunity-Tracking Tracking Team

A specialized team can focus on identifying, tracking, and evaluating new opportunities. They will work across departments to capture market and customer insights for providing strategic recommendations.

Mistake #8. Not Prioritizing Opportunities

Even if you have tracked the opportunities, what about prioritizing them?

Consider the prioritization matrix to focus on high-value - low-effort opportunities.

Product Prioritization Matrix
Product Prioritization Matrix

If not, you may dissipate resources on low-impact initiatives while high-potential prospects yearn for attention.

This framework will — 

  • Evaluate and rank opportunities based on their potential impact
  • Ensure alignment with strategic goals and feasibility.
  • Provide clear criteria for decision-making becomes subjective.

To avoid this mistake, consider the following tips:

  • Implement Predictive Lead Scoring System

The opportunity scoring mechanism evaluates each potential lead based on predefined criteria like market size, strategic fit, potential revenue, and implementation complexity. 

Ideally, ML-based lead-scoring tools like MLJAR, Toplyne, etc., can analyze the data to find patterns and relationships humans might not easily see.

Predictive lead scoring
Predictive lead scoring

With score leads as output, you have a score that predicts their likelihood to engage or buy. This needs further segmentation into groups, score-wise ordering, and then prioritizing. 

  • Use Dynamic Market Scanning Tools

Tools like Crayon, TalkWalker, and SpyFu, among others, use machine learning algorithms to continuously monitor and evaluate market conditions, competitor actions, and customer sentiment changes.

This proactive approach can simplify identifying opportunities and ensuring timely and strategic responses.

Mistake #9. Not Automating the Follow-Up Process 

A typical follow-up involves engaging with potential customers after initial contact. 

It can be a response to an inquiry, providing additional information, or moving them further along the sales funnel.

Remember — 

Effective follow-up keeps leads warm to maintain their interest, guiding them toward a purchase decision.
But, not automating the follow-up can hinder your pipeline because it leads to —

  • Inconsistent engagement due to overdependence on manual follow-ups
  • Increased risk of human error like missed communications or sending incorrect information.

Instead, adopt the following tactics to avoid this mistake.

  • Use Drip Campaigns for Lead Nurturing

Set up drip email campaigns to send messages to leads automatically over time. 

As the example below mentions, you can design a drip campaign to follow a logical flow.

How Drip Campaign Works

For example, send a white paper; if the prospect opens it, they receive an eBook. If not, they get a video overview which is a gentle nudge. 

And then those who do not engage at any point are either removed from the campaign or added to a re-engagement strategy.

  • Use Multi-Channel Follow-Ups

Integrate other channels like SMS, social media, and direct mail into your follow-up strategy to increase the chances of engaging with your prospects. 

For this, categorize leads based on their —

  • Actions like clicks, downloads, demo requests, etc.
  • Engagement level like email open rates, frequency of contacts, social media following, etc.)
  • Status in pipeline (MQL, SQL, etc.). 

Accordingly, tailor your follow-up messages.

Mistake #10. Ignoring Analytics and Performance Metrics

Missing out on crucial data points when setting up the pipeline deprives you of optimizing every stage of the sales and marketing process.

These data points can be —

  • Lead conversion rates
  • Customer acquisition costs (CAC)
  • Customer lifetime value (CLTV)
  • Sales cycle length, etc. 

Also, analytics and performance metrics are neglected due to — 

  • Lack of data-driven culture
  • Insufficient tools for data analysis
  • Misconception that intuition can help navigate the pipeline.

And why do you need analytics and performance metrics?

  • To get a clear view of your sales funnel's health, from lead generation to conversion. 
  • To better understand customer behavior, campaign effectiveness, and product appeal.
  • Refine marketing approach that ensures ongoing customer engagement and retention that leads to increasing customer lifetime value.

Avoid this mistake by taking the following actions.

  • Conduct Regular Review Cycles

Periodically review key metrics like lead conversion rates, customer acquisition costs, lifetime value, and funnel leakage. Use these reviews to adjust strategies and improve pipeline efficiency. 

For example, a quarterly review cycle may reveal that LinkedIn ad leads have higher engagement but lower conversion rates. To boost conversion rate, perform LinkedIn marketing to include more targeted content and direct call-to-action.

  • Move to Advanced Attribution Modeling

You can pick an attribution model that suits the complexity of B2B sales cycles like linear, time-decay, or algorithmic models. This will account for the nuanced impact of multiple touchpoints.

Go beyond multi-touch attribution to establish a cohesive workaround that reflects the complex buyer journeys typical in B2B sales. 

This means integrating relevant data sources into your attribution models, like CRM data, marketing automation tools, and platforms capturing customer interactions.

The Way Forward

Set and optimize your B2B SaaS pipeline that drives robust revenue growth by avoiding the abovementioned mistakes. 

Act on strategic insights and actionable tips that help avoid these mistakes. Accordingly, refine your approach, enhance pipeline velocity, and ensure sales and marketing teams yield the best possible outcomes.

How Revlitix Helps in Setting Up a Robust B2B SaaS Pipeline

Revlitix lets you access pipeline data that promotes quick decision-making confidently.

When setting up a B2B sales pipeline, use Revlitix for its two major features - Pipeline and Alerts.

  • Revlitix Pipeline

Addresses pipeline leakage and misaligned sales/marketing with AI-driven data analysis of your funnel.

 Revlitix Pipeline
 Revlitix Pipeline


    Accelerate your pipeline velocity with Revlitix by -
    • Early diagnosis of your pipeline bottlenecks as you identify where leads are dropping off
    • Optimizing funnel performance as you get predictions on expected outcomes versus goals. This will help take actions to optimize efforts on lead follow-ups, running remarketing campaigns, etc., to impact the revenue.
    • Forecast revenue with precision as our tool leverages historical data and AI algorithms to predict future performance across teams, channels, and products.
  • Revlitix Alerts
Our Alerts feature helps proactively manage and optimize the sales and marketing pipeline. We leverage AI for real-time KPI monitoring to analyze the root cause of anomalies that fluctuate pipeline velocity.

Revlitix Alerts
Revlitix Alerts

Here’s how Alerts can prevent the common pipeline mistakes we discussed above.

  • Actionable insights for correction by pinpointing where and what went wrong in your pipeline while providing suggestive corrective measures. 
  • Get notified in case of deviation from goal to take actions that rectify problems and maintain pipeline integrity.

Looking to streamline your SaaS B2B pipeline?
Request a demo and experience the impact instantly.

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