Marketing automation tip: 4 steps to integrate Salesforce + marketing automation

Did our recent post on reasons to integrate Salesforce + marketing automation get you jazzed up and ready to implement this for your own company? Great! We’re going to walk you through the steps you need to take to make this a reality.

Step 1: agree on terminology

First and foremost, you need to know how you’re defining your leads in the various buying stages. Issues often arise because sales and marketing aren’t speaking the same language. Your teams need to sit down and talk, using the SiriusDecisions Waterfall model to agree upon definitions. Have them ask themselves the following question (crucial to tagging or identifying any lead!).

What types of behavior, budget, need, timeline, etc. do leads need to display in order to be considered:

  • a prospect – often, these are the folks at the very top of the funnel. You may have collected their name when they downloaded a white paper or met you at a tradeshow.SalesFunnelClip
  • marketing-qualified – these are leads that marketing sends over to sales. They have met specific criteria that the sales and marketing teams have agreed will make them qualified to look at. It may be that they have filled out the ‘Contact Us’ form on your site, or downloaded a whitepaper in conjunction with visiting your site several times. Whatever criteria you decide, make sure that both sales and marketing agree before moving on.
  • sales-accepted – your sales team acknowledges that these leads meet the criteria needed to be considered qualified. You can consider this step a check in the process. It helps ensure that the sales team is acting on every lead passed, and helps identify any problems that arise in the process.
  • sales-qualified – leads that the sales team considers a true opportunity.

It’s important to establish these definitions up front. Otherwise, marketing can’t deliver leads that sales will find useful.

Step 2: identify customer segments

It’s time to have your sales and marketing teams define your major customer segments. In order to make your emails relevant to the end user, you need to think about how you can logically group them.

  • Consider:
    • Which industry are they in?
    • Have they expressed interest in a particular product or service?
    • How did they find you?

You then need to see if you have that information already in your database or if you need to find a way to collect it. Carefully consider which type of information you need to collect for sales and for marketing, and how you are going to collect it.

Which is more important to you – a lead’s home address or their industry? The answer should be obvious, since your teams can use industry or budget information to segment and filter leads. Leads aren’t a limitless source of information – you don’t want to ‘bug’ them, so make sure you’re collecting the most important information up front and leave the rest for when you’ve established a solid relationship.

Step 3: map out communications

Now that you’ve identified the different customer segments and the types of data you can gather up front, it’s time to map out which type of communication you want to send to each of these segments. These communications should be specifically targeted to their interests – careful personalization is a way to show each lead that you’re paying attention to their own individual needs.

It is helpful to create an email flow diagram that charts the different paths a lead can take, how they qualify for these emails, and the appropriate timing. Check out Whereoware’s own email lead flow >>

Step 4: establish a lead scoring model

Now that you have all of the necessary information about a lead, it’s time to peer further along down the sales funnel. The beauty of a good marketing automation platform is that it allows you to score your leads using their own behavioral data and demographic information.

What does this mean? Not all interactions are created equal. While it’s definitely a good thing when a recipient opens an email, it doesn’t express the same amount of interest as if they actually visit your site or even fill out and submit a form. In a way, each lead is telling you their ‘sales readiness’ level through their actions. By tallying up the value of each of these interactions and combining it with demographic information, you can get a sense of when leads are primed for your sales reps.

This is where the concept of automation comes in. Assign a numeric value to each action and/or piece of demographic data and set required thresholds for a lead to be considered marketing-qualified. For example, if you designate 12 ‘points’ as your threshold before leads are pushed to reps, opening 12 emails (at 1 pt each) may make a lead sales-qualified, but filling out 2 forms (at 6 pts each) will get them there much faster. By allowing behavioral data to dictate lead scoring, reps will receive leads only once they’ve proven to be highly qualified.

Takeaways

Salesforce.com and Marketing Automation integration may seem overwhelming during set up, but it will make the sales process run much more smoothly in the future. Once leads are defined, mailings are targeted, and behaviors have been assigned values that will automatically ‘push’ leads on to the next step, the sales funnel becomes simple.

Now, instead of both your marketing and sales teams having to wade through hundreds of leads and rely on instinct to tell them which are the highest quality, leads need simply be entered in at top of the funnel and left to percolate. Sales-qualified leads will be sent directly to reps only when the lead-scoring model has deemed them worthy. It’s a win-win situation that will save you time and effort from here on out. So…what are you waiting for?