One of the annoying “features” often pitched by marketing automation vendors is the ability to maintain a separate marketing and sales database. In other words, hold certain leads back from being synced from your marketing automation platform into your CRM.
This sounds desirable on paper: The ability to hold leads back until they’re ready for the sales team to follow up. Marketing gets to ensure their sales teams don’t dive in before a lead is ready, and sales sees more value in marketing because they’re only getting the leads that are qualified. Win-win, right?
But this misaligned marketing and sales database only causes problems, and ends up hurting the marketing and sales relationship too. Instead, marketing and sales operations teams should strive to achieve a One-to-one sync between their marketing automation and CRM databases, where leads always exist in both system. Here’s why:
Better visibility for sales
Holding leads back implies that marketing is able to accurately predict which leads are qualified, and which aren’t. But this isn’t always the case. While marketing automation is scary good at tracking online lead behavior, there are certain things it doesn’t do well, namely offline tracking and phone calls. Suppose you have a lead that hasn’t yet been synced, but decides to pick up the phone and call a confused salesperson who can’t find the lead in their system. This then leads to sales creating a duplicate in the system, which lacks all the activity you were tracking on the original lead. With a 1:1 sync, all leads are always visible for sales to look up, should they need the visibility.
Because you’re only syncing some leads, it’s hard to rely on personalizing your emails to come from a sales representative, because only a portion of your leads are actually owned by a sales rep in your CRM. With a 1:1 sync, you can use your lead owner tokens much more liberally (assuming your assignment rules are working well).
Complete CRM campaign touch tracking
Marketing automation tools like Marketo have their own Salesforce campaigns equivalent, Programs. These are great for seeing all the marketing touches that have occurred for a lead, and can even by tied to directly sync with a Salesforce campaign. This is hugely valuable when you’re running an event and your sales team is curious how many people have registered or attended. They can see the data on their leads natively within the campaign reporting of Salesforce. But if you’re trying to hold certain leads back, you can’t maintain this campaign sync. This also means that any program activity that occurred pre-sync won’t be tied back to salesforce campaign activity after the sync occurs. So if your lead attended a webinar, downloaded a whitepaper, and watched a video before they were synced, that data won’t necessarily be mapped back into Salesforce campaigns.
Without a 1:1 sync, to get an accurate picture of the full funnel, marketers have to run reports in both their automation system and their CRM. True, some automation tools have their own funnel reporting tools, but a common cause of sales and marketing misalignment is reliance on different data. If marketers start relying on reports outside of what sales sees, it starts undermining the relationship they’re trying to build. That’s not to say that marketing-specific reporting tools don’t have their place, but when it comes to funnel-critical reporting, CRM-based reports are the only way to go.
These benefits all just scratch the surface of a 1-to-1 sync. So it’s surprising to see so many organizations that don’t pursue this. In my experience, the the opposition often comes from a lack of understanding of how to properly implement this, or a resistant sales team that doesn’t want “junk” in their systems. But these concerns are often unfounded with the right approach and training. Plus there are a few ways you can implement this depending on your business situation.
For example, you could choose to sync all leads and assign to a marketing owner (Avoid queues if possible), and then reassign later once leads reach a qualification status. This works, but requires some extra workflow logic on the CRM end (because the default lead assignment rules only run upon lead creation), or creating your assignment rules within your marketing automation tool.
Or you could take arguably the cleanest approach: assign all leads to the proper sales rep with a descriptive lead status value, and train your sales teams to set views for their leads so they only look at the leads that are qualified. This is most easily done by adding a lead status values that mimic the names in your revenue cycle: inquiry/suspect, marketing qualified lead, etc). The key here is to set expectations through training with your sales teams so that they understand which leads to work and when.