3 Ways to Align Marketing and Sales Using Marketing Automation

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Isaac Moche
Isaac Moche



Smarketing: The process of aligning the sales and marketing teams around common goals within a business or organization, focused on improving revenue.


Aligning your marketing and sales teams is such an important part of a successful inbound strategy. Why spend all of the effort getting your inbound engine up and running (attracting and converting leads) if your sales team isn't committed or knowledgeable enough to close them into customers? That's why a business adopts Inbound, right? To grow.  

Unfortunately, marketing and sales don't always get along. A survey conducted by the Corporate Executive Board found that "87% of the terms sales & marketing use to describe each other are negative."

The result of this rift isn't just hurt feelings - it can impact revenue.  According to a study by the Aberdeen Group, it turns out that companies with strong marketing and sales alignment hit 20% annual revenue growth. Compare that to companies with poor smarketing alignment. They actually saw revenues decline by 4%. 

This blog post will outline three ways to start using the HubSpot Workflows tool to improve efficiency, communication and alignment between marketing and sales.

Note: Workflows is only available for Professional and Enterprise subscriptions of HubSpot.

#1. Set a Lifecycle Stage

Lifecycle Stages help you organize your contacts based on the stage they are at in your sales cycle: subscriber, lead, marketing qualified lead, sales qualified lead, opportunity, customer, or evangelist. Since your interactions with your contacts vary depending on what lifecycle stage they are in, it is helpful to have the ability to segment your contacts based on this information.

Specifically, the Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) and Sales Qualified Lead (SQL) properties, are the two lifecycle stages that should dictate which leads your sales team accepts from your marketing team. 

Marketing qualified leads are those people who have raised their hands (metaphorically speaking) and identified themselves as more deeply engaged, sales-ready contacts than your usual leads, but who have not yet become full-fledged opportunities.

Sales qualified leads are those that your sales team has accepted as worthy of a direct sales follow-up. Using this stage will help your sales and marketing teams stay firmly on the same page in terms of the quality and volume of leads that you are handing over to your sales team.

Since every business is different, it is up to your team to designate how you define an MQL (this article is a great start). Once you've decided on a definition, you can use a workflow to mark a contact as an MQL and communicate that change to your sales team. 

There's a lot of flexibility in how you use the workflows tool to set the MQL and SQL lifecycle stages. Below are a few of your options:

#2. Use Branching Logic For Lead Assignment

Branching logic, or conditional logic, is a feature in HubSpot that allows your contacts to follow one path or another based on an action or property in your workflow. This allows your company to automatically route/assign leads to the correct marketer, owner, sales rep, or account manager based on specific properties. Any of these businesses could use branching logic to assign incoming leads to the correct internal owner:

  • A company that has multiple products or departments
  • A company that has multiple locations
  • A company that uses a territory model for their sales reps
  • A company that has a partner and direct sales channel

Here is an example from HubSpot Partner SparkReaction's blog of a workflow that uses branching logic to assign leads to a specific sales rep based on territory. 

If you would like to learn more about how to set up branching logic in HubSpot you can read more here

#3. Send Internal Notifications

The speed with which you follow up on lead activity is incredibly important. In an article titled "The Short Life of Online Sales Leads" the Harvard Business Review reported that “companies that try to contact potential customers within an hour of receiving queries are nearly 7 times as likely to have meaningful conversations with key decision makers as firms that try to contact prospects even an hour later. Yet only 37% of companies respond to queries within an hour.”

The workflows tool in HubSpot allows you to send immediate email notifications with relevant information about a contact to your sales team based on marketing activity. Lead actions like downloading a case study, viewing a pricing page, or filling out a contact form can all be used to trigger an internal notification email to one or multiple people. Not only can you send them an email, but you can provide them with a link to the lead's contact record. That way they have immediate access to the information they need to start a warm, relevant conversation.

You can learn more about sending internal notification emails with HubSpot here

Don't Forget...

The power of HubSpot's workflows tool extends far beyond nurturing leads and delighting customers. It is a robust tool that can make your business more efficient and align entire departments. While these are three examples of internal operations that can be improved by using workflows, there are many more. Be sure to check out the Workflows User Guide for more inspiration on using workflows to grow your business. 



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