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In this episode, we’re covering High Intent Revenue Opportunity (HIRO) Pipeline. John Bonini chats with Chris Walker, CEO & Founder of Refine Labs, to learn why he created this metric, how they define it, and the framework they use to increase it by an average of 76% for their clients.
Refine Labs helps drive demand and pipeline revenue for SaaS companies from Series A through D. When they hit 30~ Clients, the team went to measure how many pipeline dollars those clients would get for every $1 they spent in ads. Chris wanted to be able to show what the growth of their pipeline was (across all clients) from the time they started working with his team, to then.
But he had a problem. He realized that out of all their clients, none defined pipeline the same. Every single one had different definitions. For exome companies, “pipeline” meant that the lead booked a meeting with an SDR, and was in a stage where the deals convert at < 10%. Others defined pipeline as a deal in a stage that converted at higher than 50%.
So Chris created a new pipeline revenue metric that could be easily adapted by all clients (and non-clients who wanted to), and would allow them to benchmark their performance against others.
They define HIRO Pipeline as leads that come in through a high intent source (book a call, schedule a demo, etc) with win rates greater than 3% from lead-to-win, and reach a deal stage in your pipeline that converts at a 25% rate for that cohort of opportunities.
These two qualifiers mean that if the deal stage starts to close below 25%, marketing needs to change the stage that HIRO is defined by (to a 25% or higher one) so they’re always aligned to sales performance.
It also helps align marketing to revenue, without having to wait for the lagging metric of actual revenue to come in – because it’s based on a secure win rate.
Using qualitative attribution
First, Chris believes it’s important to understand that HIRO Pipeline’s efficacy isn’t going to be clearly shown by traditional attribution software. It requires a blend of qualitative and quantitative attribution. For most, this can be done by adding a simple open text field in the onboarding process, asking prospective clients how they heard about you.
Balancing focus and budget between creating demand, and capturing demand
Chris believes the main key to driving HIRO Pipeline is striking the right balance between creating demand and capturing demand.
Capturing demand is waiting in channels where people have demonstrated intent, are “solution-aware”, and are actively looking to buy something. For example, Google Ads or product review sites like G2.
Creating demand is spending time reinforcing your messaging in channels where people are not in the market for your product or service. They may not be “solution-aware”, and don’t have intent to buy what you’re selling.
Chris believes the key is to have two different strategies to reach each of those audiences.
Chris believes that because companies rely so heavily on attribution software, they’re only focused on the “channels that work”, which are all demand-capturing channels.
This means there are only so many buyers these companies can reach, and worse still, they have no control over how that demand was generated.
Instead, companies must focus more on creating demand (vs capturing it), so they have control of the flow of new buyers entering the market.
This means most companies must change the way they think about and approach demand generation. For example, if you don’t draw a distinction between “demand capture” and “demand gen” channels, you’ll end up treating the audience in each of those buckets the same. Where in reality, one audience is ready to buy and wants to consume one type of content, while the audience in the other is not going to buy and is interested in an entirely different set of content.
For Refine Labs, this means using “demand gen” channels to help clients amplify messaging that educates clients about:
Chris believes marketing teams need to take those elements, say them in compelling ways, and serve that messaging up natively in demand-gen channels that prospective buyers are already in. The goal is not to convert the prospective customer in that moment, but rather to educate them and keep your company top of mind.
This means that instead of driving a person on LinkedIn to download an e-book, you might run an impression-based video ad that showcases the growth you drove for a client, or a written post breaking down what people should know about the category you’re in.
The idea is that you plant the seed in this person (who has consumed this messaging) in the belief that they will end up sharing your company in a Slack channel, with peers at an event, or through a LinkedIn DM. And then someone from their network or company will come directly to your site when they’re ready to buy.
Refine Labs has been applying that framework for customers since Day 1.
They researched a cohort of 20 customers from B2B SaaS companies that had clean, historical data for 6+ months before starting to work with them.
They then compared the 6 months prior to working with Refine Labs to the 6 months after working with Refine Labs, specifically drilling down to the HIRO metric.
Across those 20 clients, the median increase in pipeline was an impressive 76%. This means a series C or D company doing $2m in pipeline before Refine Labs was doing $3.5m~ after working with Chris’s team.
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