Marketing Automation Mistake 4: Not Coordinating with Sales

Adam Smartschan

Partner & Chief Strategy Officer

Marketing, by itself, cannot drive improvements in a business’ bottom line. It can’t win deals. It can’t create new revenue streams.

It can lay the foundation for all that to happen, sure. But siloed marketing efforts – those that aren’t integrated with holistic business goals and realities – are simply expenses without the hope of positive returns.

No matter how efficient your processes and seemingly effective your inbound marketing efforts, if they’re not providing useful data and actual qualified leads, they’re not worth very much. Efficient junk is still junk.

At the end of the day, marketing needs to serve other departments – sales, in particular – the way they need to be served. Asking others to change their workflows or “just deal with it” is a lesson in frustration. A successful B2B marketer is flexible enough work effectively with the entire rest of the enterprise.

Take, for instance, lead scoring – a key component of enterprise marketing automation solutions. In many cases, the goal of lead scoring is to give the sales team insight into where a particular prospect sits in the lead funnel. Are they interested in the concept? Intrigued by a particular value proposition? Ready to be contacted? By smartly aggregating and scoring a prospect’s actions, you – the marketing professional – can tell sales just about everything they need to know.

But you can’t do it in a vacuum. Before you begin lead scoring, it’s critical to sit down with sales leadership to gather anecdotal evidence on what makes a good lead. When, in their opinion, is someone “ready?” After reading a white paper? Requesting a case study? Opening an email? And what can current sales bandwidth support? It’s easy for marketing to tell sales to call every prospect as soon as they’re engaged. Problem is, doing so might be impossible for a small sales staff. In this case, you’d set your escalation threshold relatively high – prospects need to show a decent amount of interest before they’re passed through as a marketing qualified lead, or MQL.

(If you have dozens of sales people and all the time in the world, however, your calculus is quite different. We’ve all given our information to big companies and been inundated by calls and emails. That’s fine … if it’s sustainable.)

A quarter or so after you’ve started feeding scored leads to your sales force, it’s time to check in with them. Are the folks you’re considering “qualified” really qualified? If so (and bandwidth permits), tweak your scoring down a bit, juicing the number of leads going to the sales team. If not, tweak the scoring up, reducing the number (but increasing the quality) of prospects going to sales.

The need to interface with sales goes beyond lead scoring. How are reps being notified when an MQL is coming their way? Email? A message within the CRM? Slack? Does the status quo work for them? Are there fail safes in place to ensure they never miss a lead?

When a member of the sales team needs information on a prospects’ past actions, are you able to readily provide it, in a way that makes sense for the rep? Is it a manual process, or can you automate it (probably by syncing data between the MAP and your CRM)?

The lesson here is simple: Marketing is part of a greater whole. KPIs can never truly stand on their own. Instead, the success or failure of a marketing effort ultimately lies in how well it supports the other departments in play. By giving sales what they need, when they need it, you’ll ultimately build credibility and secure your place within the enterprise.

Adam Smartschan

Adam Smartschan heads Altitude's strategic marketing and branding efforts. An award-winning writer and editor by trade in a former life, he now specializes in data analytics, search engine optimization, digital advertising strategy, conversion rate optimization and technical integrations. He holds numerous industry certifications and is a frequent speaker on topics around B2B marketing strategy and SEO.