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Closing the Loop Between Marketing and Sales

By March 16, 2017May 19th, 2017Inbound Marketing, Lead Gen, Sales

This blog post is part of “The Ultimate Guide to Lead Generation” blog series.

Closed loop marketing is the holy grail of sales for most companies. It means that you can track every dollar of revenue back to marketing initiatives to determine ROI. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software has been a must-have for businesses that are serious about growth. Managing contacts, know where they are in the purchasing process, centralizing communications and logging all pre- and post-sales activities help companies take better care of their customers.

In recent years, marketing automation platforms have helped marketers similarly manage and control the marketing messages and the offers contacts receive, log the responses to these efforts, and score and qualify leads based on their online and offline behavior. Blending the capabilities of CRM and marketing automation can create a single view of all contacts and their activities with the company, and offer powerful metrics to close the loop between sales and marketing.

Deeper Integration

The first generation of marketing automation platforms like HubSpot and Marketo worked with CRM platforms like Salesforce to add marketing activities to the CRM records. More recently, HubSpot has introduced its own CRM to offer a deeper level of integration between the CRM and marketing automation functions.

Salesforce is an extremely powerful platform and for large global enterprises, perhaps it the most reasonable choice as it is proven to scale. It is complicated, with most large companies hiring special administrators to manage and customize the platform and it’s many add-ons and extensions. Usually, Salesforce is used by sales teams to manage sales performance and track contacts through their life cycles. The communication between marketing automation and Salesforce is usually one-way–HubSpot activity, for example, will appear in the Salesforce contact log.

HubSpot + HubSpot

Using HubSpot CRM and HubSpot Marketing, sales and marketing have the same view of the contact status and behavior. Sales teams can place calls and send emails directly from the same platform that is used to track contacts’ responses to emails and behavior on the company’s website. Lead scoring and qualification criteria are shared across both sales and marketing, deals can be created and moved through the sales funnel, and all the while, the contact’s owner is notified when an action is taken or an action is required.

The shift of buyer behavior to a “search first” mentality, meaning people search online and develop a shortlist of possible suppliers long before they contact a company, is forcing sales relationships to change. In many businesses, sales gets involved in opportunities much later in the traditional sales funnel, and marketing is responsible for managing the relationship up until a contact is deemed a “sales qualified” lead. It is increasingly important for sales and marketing teams to work together to agree on qualification processes and criteria, how and when to handoff to sales, and the tracking of contact status pre-and post-handoff.

Sales and Marketing Alignment

Integrating CRM and marketing automation functionality can play an important role in keeping sales and marketing aligned and smoothly transitioning contacts to marketing qualified leads, marketing qualified leads to sales qualified leads, sales qualified leads to opportunities, and opportunities to closed business. You can do this with separate platforms from different companies, but it can be cumbersome. With HubSpot sales and marketing functions bundled, users can see when a contact opens an email, visits the company website, fills out a form for a content offer, etc. The contact’s record will contain all marketing and sales interactions.

HubSpot’s CRM has an additional advantage in that it is free. It also syncs up with web business databases so that once you enter a company name, it typically populates the record with information like the company address, size, industry, etc. With sales relationships happening mostly online in many businesses, an integrated CRM/marketing process can make businesses convert contacts into customer more efficiently.

Closing the Loop

The ultimate advantage of integrating CRM and marketing automation functionality is the ability to directly tie sales revenue to marketing activities. Marketing automation allows both sales and marketing teams to see which campaigns resulted in closed deals. Knowing which campaigns are more successful in making sales improves your predictive and other data-driven marketing efforts.

With sales contacting potential customers later in the buying cycle, it is more important than ever for sales and marketing teams to work together, and to share ownership and accountability for identifying, qualifying and nurturing leads into customers. Using a CRM and marketing automation platform together makes this collaboration much easier and can make it much more effective.

This blog post is part of “The Ultimate Guide to Lead Generation” blog series.