February 16, 2017

5 Strategies to Align Your Marketing and Sales Operations [FAQ]


At the top of everyone’s to-do list for 2017 — and for the last couple of years if we’re being honest — sits aligning your marketing and sales operations.

This past week we held a webinar that featured industry experts in sales and marketing ops from Bedrock Data, Bizible, InsightSquared and New Breed. Toward the end of the discussion, our attendees posed some great questions as to how the panelists successfully aligned their sales and marketing teams. We couldn’t get to them all, so we thought we'd dive into the rest here.

Let’s jump right in.

1. What should the ratio of resources to number of sales and marketing staff look like?

A growth stack that compliments the reporting needs of your sales and marketing teams will set them up for success. Yet, it’s something Evan Robinson, director of sales ops at InsightSquared, thinks a lot of companies tend to get wrong.

Teams often make the mistake of implementing a marketing and sales resource far too late in their growth process. At which point, instead of working toward a higher level strategy, they end up spending a large amount of time fighting fire after fire throughout disparate technology platforms.

[Strategy]: Understand your goals and build you stack around them

Instead of focusing on the ratio of resources to staff, look to build a growth stack with tech platforms that provide actionable insights towards your business goals. First, establish what those reporting goals are and then implement the platform that'll help best accomplish each specific goal. Dave Rigotti, VP of marketing at Bizible, has found that the farther down the funnel your goal lies — say contribution to revenue or pipeline — the better decisions you’ll make.

So for example, let’s say you determine contribution to pipeline to be the main goal for your marketing team. Look to implement a platform such as InsightSquared to leverage real time reports that show how your marketing efforts across both your MA and CRM directly relate to contribution to pipeline.

2. What are the KPIs we should report on when looking to achieve growth?

When you’re in growth mode, it’s easy to overwhelm yourself with KPI data that has no impact on your business goals. With that in mind, it’s important to not just report on what’s happening, but draw actionable insights into which processes are directly contributing to those results.

[Strategy]: Establish closed loop reporting

To gain actionable insight, Matt Solomon, sales operations strategist at New Breed, says it’s best to take a step back from your KPIs and begin to establish accurate closed loop reporting. With actionable data on your prospects' full conversion process — from first visiting your site all the way to becoming a customer — you can analyze which conversion points are lagging and which specific tactics are a contributing factor.

Leverage this free checklist to start aligning your marketing, sales and  service operations.

For example, let’s say the conversion rate of your MQLs to SQLs has trended below your benchmark rate. This could be a good indicator that there’s a misalignment in goals between your sales and marketing teams. Instead of focusing on a KPI, look to solve the root processes that are causing the misalignment. Consider drafting up a Service Level Agreement to ensure both of your teams are on the same page.

With closed loop reporting you can establish a culture amongst your teams where everyone is accountable to the data and has the transparency to know where they stand. Here at New Breed, we help customers achieve this by leveraging HubSpot, Salesforce and InsightSquared in their growth stack.

3. In measuring marketing's contribution to pipeline, how do you measure attribution? First touch? Last touch? First and last? Other?

It’s important not to overvalue the impact of a certain marketing effort, but it can be hard to tell which touch actually contributed to your conversion goal. As for a specific attribution model, Dave from Bizible says there’s no right answer for every company. He suggests you take an in-depth look at your sales cycle and begin to analyze which stages matter the most to a deal.

[Strategy]: Develop an attribution model that fits your cycle

Bizible has put together a great list of attribution models that you can use as inspiration to structure your own. For multi-touch attribution models, most companies use either a W-shaped or a U-shaped model.

  • W - Shaped: First Touch (30 percent), Lead Conversion (30 percent), Opportunity Creation (30 percent), All Other (10 percent)
  • U - Shaped: First Touch (40 percent), Lead Conversion (40 percent), All Other (20 percent)

Again, look to your closed loop reporting to see which funnel stage matters the most to your sales cycle and weigh your marketing touches accordingly. If your company has a shorter sales cycle, a U-Shaped model might be the perfect fit. If longer, something more like a W-Shaped model could be appropriate.

4. If marketing and sales are both focussed on revenue, why not establish a well integrated Business Ops dept?

Yeah, why not? In the move toward alignment, this is the ideal end goal. Zak Pine, VP of marketing at Bedrock Data, serves as a good source for inspiration. He’s aligned his sales and marketing operations into a single business ops function from the ground up. He notes that while it took a good deal of discipline to get there, the centralized business ops team saw reduced friction across processes and had an efficient, one source of truth mentality.

However, most sales and marketing teams don't have the ability to build their operations from the ground up. Sales and Marketing have likely existed on various platforms for years and it can seem near impossible to combine the disparate processes.

[Strategy]: Begin to move sales and marketing ops toward a centralized business ops team

Here at New Breed, we’ve made it a one-to-one process as to the operations team members working in our MA or CRM platforms. Traditional marketing operations has largely lied in tactically building assets, but with the increase of automation their scope has increased and their respective data has moved further down the funnel. In response, we’ve folded specific roles under a revenue operations team, whose main focus lies in the stage between MQL to SQL. Take a look at your current operation functions and look to fold similar roles under the same team if possible. It'll go a long way toward further alignment.

5. Where can we get more Marketing and Sales Ops info?

[Strategy]: Look to both higher level and granular resources

Here are a few of our suggestions:

  • Datanyze - their resource center will provide you a fairly high level view regarding sales and marketing technology.
  • Salesforce Communities - For a more technical approach, we suggest frequenting communities such as Stack Exchange or the Salesforce Success Community. These will give you more granular solutions that you can implement throughout your tech stack.
  • Inbound.org - For a healthy mix between a high level approach and something more granular, we suggest joining in the conversation over at Inbound.

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Adam Kinsella

Adam is a Senior Web Strategist at New Breed with a focus on inbound best practices, conversion rate optimization and web strategy.


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