Marketing and Sales Alignment Delivers the Wow Factor

Melissa Rothchild, VP of Marketing, Thomson Reuters and Bryon Thelen-Perry, Senior Director of Sales, Thomson Reuters
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Melissa Rothchild, VP of Marketing, Thomson Reuters

Melissa Rothchild, VP of Marketing, Thomson Reuters

Until recently, our business unit was saddled with an unconventional, manual lead assignment and tracking process that offered no visibility. Last month, we successfully rolled out a new fully automated lead scoring, lead assignment and marketing attribution workflow based on industry best practices. In addition to dozens of internal stakeholders, two consulting firms helped us at different stages of the project–Demand Gen and B2B Fusion Group. See below for a breakdown of our approach and the goals we had in mind throughout this 2-year collaborative initiative.

• Get the Right Sales and Marketing Decision Makers around the Table Up Front–We started this project with a full-day session of our sales and marketing leaders deciding on how to define key terminology so that everyone would have the same definition of important terms like MQLs (Marketing Qualified Leads), SALs (Sales Accepted Leads) and SQLs (Sales Qualified Leads). We also agreed up front on a few key SLAs (Service Level Agreement) for how quickly sales reps would need to follow up on new leads and how many attempts they could make at contacting a lead before sending it back to marketing to nurture or disqualifying it. These early sessions laid the foundation for a common understanding and common goals across the sales and marketing teams. Later in the project, we brought this cross-functional team together again to fine-tune and agree on a robust lead scoring model.

  The reps no longer have to spend time searching through long lists of campaign codes and manually attributing the values 

 • Focus on Productivity Enhancements–to make this new roll-out as effective and attractive to the sales team as possible, we kept the emphasis on areas where we could speed up and streamline the sales rep’s workflow (less clicks, much more intuitive) for sales reps to receive, view and accept leads and convert those leads into opportunities in the CRM. This has also been very helpful from a sales training perspective, making it easier and faster for new reps to quickly pick up the process given it follows industry standard best practices vs. a customized workflow.

• Automate Lead Assignment–our goal was to take the human factor out of routing and assigning leads. Marketing Qualified Leads now automatically route to the appropriate sales rep, based on line of business and geography and round robin assignment, in a near real-time fashion while the lead is still hot.  

• Automate Marketing Campaign Attribution–the primary campaign source and campaign influence is automatically captured in the lead’s DNA as it passes from our marketing automation system (Eloqua) into our CRM (Salesforce.com) and stays with the lead as it converts into an opportunity–the reps no longer have to spend time searching through long lists of campaign codes and manually attributing the values. This gives Sales & Marketing much better visibility into which campaigns are having the most positive influence on sales so we can do more of those things, and less of the activities that are not having a heavy influence.Bryon Thelen-Perry, Senior Director of Sales, Thomson Reuters

• Create New Paths to Collaborate–the sales reps now have the option to send leads with potential, but who are not yet ready to be converted into opportunities, back to Marketing to nurture along with a requirement to note the reason code–ex. in contract with competitor, no budget, etc.–and Marketing is setting up automated email nurture streams for each reason code within each line of business so these ‘leads with potential’ don’t just fall to the side, but get nurtured and warmed up again to come back into the qualification stream at a later date. We’ve found the sales reps are energized to have this option, knowing the marketing activities will keep these leads with potential alive for action by sales down the road.

• Report on SLAs and Results for Sales and Marketing–we’ve set up dashboard reports in our CRM so our sales and marketing managers can receive daily reports of the leads their teams are working and if they’re accepting/working leads within the agreed-upon timeframe. Jointly we’re now able to view the opportunity lifecycle charts to understand where opportunities may get ‘stuck’ in the sales process and set up sales enablement tools and automated marketing nurture touches to more quickly move those opportunities through the sales cycle.

As noted in a recent infographic from Wheelhouse Advisors via HubSpot, research shows organizations which aligned sales and marketing functions enjoyed 36 percent higher customer retention rates and 38 percent higher sales win rates. This new program is still in the very early stages and we’re just scratching the surface of all we will be able to achieve with this new workflow. As the sales and marketing leads on this project, we feel the collaborative approach we took throughout the process, leaning on each other’s strengths and experience and developing a strong trust, enabled us to move this initiative from ideation to implementation.

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