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Series: Closing the loop between marketing and sales

This is the first of several post we’re publishing to discuss best practices in closing the loop between sales and marketing. As a quick foreword, we’ll note that the actual tactics of how your organization will tangibly close this loop will vary greatly depending on your key performance indicators, the tools you’ve adopted, and other variables like staffing and policies. Due to these different setups, we’ve split these posts between strategic and tactical concepts:

  • Introduction: Why your organization should be thinking about this problem (you’re currently reading that, now)
  • Actually defining what it means to close the loop; metrics, KPIs, success
  • Technically connecting your tools to automate closing the reporting loop
  • Getting buy-in from leadership and contributors to make it happen
  • Ongoing reporting, common problems, and building a better organization

First things, first: why should your business even care about this?

Let’s face it: everyone has their own list of priorities each morning when they pull into the office. The even sadder truth is that when it comes down to it, tactical things always win over strategic. Sales is always going to deliver demos over marketing them as complete and recording the delivery results in Salesforce. Marketing is always going to prioritize the email marketing campaign over the search engine optimization.

As humans, we seek instant reward and we’re usually measured in a similar way. It’s harder to prove value, progress in your career, and get that raise without pointing to the tangible things in your work. So as consultants, we understand our partner’s hesitancy when we say we want to add process, procedure, and overall work to their plate with the vision of providing long term understanding about cross-department success.

Why leadership should care:

As an executive, your sole responsibility is to facilitate a healthy, growing business. You’re probably more focused on the initiatives that move the larger numbers at your board meetings rather than the number of marketing emails sent and delivered last quarter. Building a feedback loop between marketing and sales allows you to report on what tactics are working, where to double-down, and where to back off.

We partnered with a Chief Revenue Officer several years back and his marketing team was often reporting campaign metrics and very loosely, leads generated metrics. He was responsible for reporting the standard sales figures (pipeline, closed-won, etc).

The only thing missing from allowing him to connect these two figures of discussion and elevating his next quarterly board meeting from “here’s how we did” to “here’s what worked” is this feedback loop between marketing and sales.

Why marketing should care:

While marketers in general tend to be more creative and visionary, the folks we report to aren’t always the same. We need cold, hard facts about our success and this can be difficult to do without the feedback of a sales team.

Even the most solid of a lead attribution plan can fall apart when an executive asks “how many of those sales qualified leads closed, how much revenue did that drive and which channels closed best“.

Closing the loop means you’ll not only be able show your value and success but C-level execs will actually jump at the bit to pour more gasoline on your successful initiatives.

Why sales should care:

As a quota-carrying individual, being asked to do anything that doesn’t directly impact your number can be a hard stop. You might even already be up to your eyeballs in policy that’s forced onto you by the sales operations folks.

This; however, is the one thing (amongst all) that directly ties back to your success. When marketing is able to determine that their initiatives are driving more leads (or perhaps more qualified leads) they’re able to double down on those initiatives. More leads means more at bats for you and well, you’re a sales rep so you can do the math on that one.

In the next part of this series, we’ll actually take a look at defining what it means to close the loop, what metrics you should be reporting on, and what a successful rollout should look like.