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Aligning Marketing and Sales Operations

Over the years, marketing has increasingly had more responsibility for revenue generation. Because of this, being a successful marketing operations professional requires that you learn the tools–such as Marketo and Salesforce, that are part of both your marketing and sales technology stack. Learning to speak the language that your Salesforce admin speaks, and learning how the sales operations tools process data will clear the way for efficient and productive marketing operations architecture.

By taking on this additional knowledge, you will be able to communicate with the sales operations team to reduce the time to complete projects requiring both teams. This partnership in turn will allow your organization to realize revenue faster through tighter processes and will also help bridge the relationship with the sales team, a win-win.

Listed below are some common items marketing operations professionals will be asked about in their careers that will also require an understanding of the tools typically owned by sales operations. If you are a marketing operations professional, you should have a regular cadence of meetings with your Salesforce team, and these items can serve as a guide for an initial agenda if you need to make the case to meet regularly.

Field Management and Mapping

This is a basic item but definitely one that can get overlooked easily. There are many items to think about when looking at how you manage field-level data between your MAP and CRM, and if you need to make changes then you will need to work within both technologies.

Some important considerations:

  • System of Origin: Does the field need to be available in Salesforce and Marketo, if so then it’s important to create the field in Salesforce and allow it to sync down to Marketo. This results in one (1) field syncing data between the two systems.
  • Marketo Sync User Permissions: Every field you sync to Marketo from Salesforce can impact your sync queue. If you are experiencing delays in your sync cycles, take the opportunity to conduct a field audit. The type of information you want to understand include: object sync volume and which fields are syncing the most data. Take this information and work with your team to make strategic decisions on if this data is necessary to have in Marketo. Once you complete your field audit, work with your Salesforce Admin to update the Marketo Sync User’s permissions to only those fields you need to leverage for Marketing efforts in Marketo. This will allow your system to process data quickly and efficiently. Also, don’t worry if you do this after you have already synced your systems, you can still update permissions and then just hide the fields you don’t need in Marketo. There are a few steps involved to hide fields, information available here.
  • Field Updates: This addresses how to preserve the integrity of field data, think: read, write, edit. This is an important one as some fields should only be set once and then never updated, for example, the lead source fields or acquisition fields. In addition, some fields are just information for sales to action off versus be responsible for updating – these fields should be set as read-only on the sales page layout and you need to work with your CRM administrator closely to ensure that sales is seeing exactly what they need to see, and editing exactly what they need to edit, but there is no additional “noise” to slow down their process. Once you work through the sync profile permissions, take your consolidated list and define sales user permissions from a marketing field perspective.

Lead Ownership and Disposition Process

This item is specific to how the sales team will take ownership of a lead in Salesforce, qualify it, and convert it into a contact with an opportunity. If you don’t fully understand how the sales team is managing leads you could end up with duplicates in Marketo.

Here are some recommendations on areas to focus:

  • Lead Queues: It’s not recommended that the Marketo Sync User ‘own’ leads in your CRM; that user should be used only for the management of record sync if possible. So, you will need to understand how the sales team is using lead queues and design a place to “hold” leads until they are either qualified by marketing or sales takes ownership to conduct some outbound efforts. It’s important to note that contacts can’t be assigned to lead queues, so you will want to ensure your campaigns in Marketo are only assigned if SFDC type is lead. Another option is to work with your SFDC team to create a workflow or auto-assignment rules, which puts the ownership of the process for lead assignment on the CRM side.
  • Lead Conversion Process: Ideally your sales team will be notified if a lead has filled out a hand raise formed or been qualified through scoring. They will find the record in Salesforce and take ownership of the lead, officially ‘working’ that record. That record remains persistent throughout the sales process, gets converted to a contact, account, and opportunity and eventually (hopefully!) closes as a new customer. By creating a contact from the standard Salesforce lead conversion process, all activity, field mappings, history, etc are tied to the new contact. If sales, for whatever reason, decides to create a net-new contact or creates a secondary lead because they didn’t search first when doing outbound prospecting or because they don’t understand the conversion process properly, that record will sync to Marketo as well and you will end up with duplicate person records in Marketo. This is because while Marketo primarily uses email addresses to lookup their database and see if a record already exists, when a new record syncs from Salesforce, it is always treated as a net new record. This is where working with the SFDC team to mitigate the creation of duplicate records in the CRM is so important – there are measures they can take to prevent these duplicates from being created and even 3rd party tools they can implement, and it will save you a ton of headache in the future around privacy compliance, your Marketo database size, and other things that will take a long time to untangle.

Customer Lifecycle

As marketing operations has matured, looking at the full customer marketing lifecycle has become more important. This is especially true if you are marketing a SaaS or renewal-based product, or if you see a high degree of cross-selling across different product lines. There are many ways to build out a customer lifecycle to allow for scalable marketing to your existing customers, but before you start building the architecture in Marketo to support this lifecycle, it is recommended to work with the sales, sales operations, and customer support teams. The goal of this discovery process is to define your current customer model and then build the architecture to support that model.

Here are some questions to get that conversation started and identify any potential roadblocks:

  • Who owns customers at your company?
  • What is the structure of your company’s account teams?
  • Does ownership change during the customer sales process?
  • Who is involved in the customer sales process?
  • How are products defined on opportunities and accounts in your CRM?
  • Have you defined your customer lifecycle stages?
  • Is your data clean and actionable, can you identify customers?
  • What is the definition of a qualified customer?
  • How does the team need to be notified of customer engagement?
  • What does success look like for your company upon implementation?

The topics above are a small piece of the information marketing operational professionals will need to understand but a great starting place when trying to open communication between marketing operations and sales operations.

Learning more about the sales tools will help you be a better marketing operations professionals.

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