Shoelaces hold two sides together. Each eyelet it passes through, the stronger the bind. Without a shoelace, a shoe would lose its primary function—making it ineffective and unusable. One of the missing elements between most marketing and sales teams is often this tie linking the two together.

Creating a durable shoelace for marketing and sales teams can vary, but there are five key questions every marketing team can ask to help close the gap. 

Who is king: contacts or companies?

To an inbound marketer, contacts are always king, but most sales teams sell on the account level. This doesn't mean that the contact loses its value, but rather emphasizes the importance of passing and sharing valuable information from one record to another. 

Since marketing efforts target the contact, it's valuable to understand what qualifying factors for the account can be answered by the contact. For companies that are added to HubSpot's free CRM, certain fields are pre-populated with useful information, such as address, industry, and number of employees. Past those standard fields, however, contacts can help provide new and more accurate information that will keep the sales team's accounts up-to-date.

Here are a few questions that may be useful to both the contact and company record:

  • What software/hardware does your company currently use?
  • What services are you interested in?
  • What are your primary company challenges?
  • How many employees are in your X department?

Once you have identified these custom form questions, workflows can copy the information from the contact record to the company's. When setting this up, there are three things you'll need to keep in mind:

  1. The HubSpot CRM will need to be activated to use this workflow action. You can activate this free add-on right from your HubSpot portal
  2. In order for the information transfer to work, a contact will need to be associated with a company. One of HubSpot's CRM settings can take care of this.
  3. There needs to be a property on the company level that has the same field type as the contact property. 

Let's say that you want to share the main company challenges identified by a contact with an associated account. Your three steps for setting up this workflow would go as follows:

 Step 1: Creating Matching Company Properties  Step 2: Set Starting Condition for Workflow Targeting Contact Property

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 Step 3: Select Workflow Actions
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This process will ensure that the company record has relevant information, especially if that's a primary focus for the sales process.

What are the top qualifying factors you look for in a good lead? What are negative indicators?

In addition to understanding account-related qualifying factors, it is equally as important to know the distinction between a bad lead and a good one from a sales perspective. Sales has insight into where leads fall off in the selling process, as well as have learned what factors lead to a bad sell. 

Let's say you're a reseller for software that helps companies implement an employee rewards program. Your sales team noticed that companies with fewer than three HR employees either don't buy or churn after a few months. As a marketer, one way you can weed out those leads is by asking the right questions on your forms. For this particular case, an easy question you can ask is, "How many employees work in your HR department?" From just one question, you can disqualify a lead and save your sales team's time. 

Pinpointing these qualifiers is a great way to tie sales to marketing by looping them into your process. One way you could start this conversation is by having each of your sales reps fill out a questionnaire. Draw up a form that further investigates these areas, asking questions specific to your company and industry. 

Here is an example questionnaire created with Google Forms.

The main goals of this form should be to:

  1. Gain a better idea of what sales cares about, and;
  2. Include sales in marketing efforts so they can see the direct impact marketers can have on their day-to-day. 

Getting buy-in from the sales team about what information matters to them creates that first initial loop in your shoe. 

Once you have gathered this information, you need to format your questions with segmentation in mind. In other words, you need to ask close-ended questions any chance you can. If the answer(s) to a question are exhaustive, choose a field type that is either dropdown select, radio select, or multiple checkboxes. Steer clear of single-line text and mult-line text any chance you can—these are harder to segment by. 

For those properties that have exhaustive options but there's a chance that there isn't an applicable value, include an "Other" option on the field and use dependent fields. A good use case for this is with a "Job Role" property. Typically, there is a standard list of job titles that you engage with, but there is a chance that a contact doesn't fall under any of the pre-determined values. Dependent fields allow you to ask follow-up questions in case the initial options aren't applicable. 

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How do you determine what lead is yours?

Lead assignment rules can vary company to company. The three ways leads tend to get distributed are based off:

  • Territory
  • Account (all branches and affiliates)
  • Category (specific interest in products and/or services)

Similar to the first two questions, it's important to know how sales determines ownership, as this will impact what form questions you ask as well. Once you have this insight, you can set up workflows that automatically assign each lead. There are two ways to do this: single assignment or lead rotation. 

Single Assignment

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Lead Rotation

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When and how do you want to be notified about your lead's activity?

Once lead assignment has been determined, you can then set up internal notifications to each sales rep. Some standard internal alerts are:

  • Initial lead assignment - alerting the sales rep a new contact has been assigned to him/her
  • Specific form submissions - alerting the sales rep of a recent submission
  • Hot lead notification - alerting the sales rep of active engagement, most often connected to lead scoring
  • Task assignments/SMS alerts - alerting the sales rep of incomplete to-do items relating to a contact

All of these notifications can be set up in HubSpot through the workflows tool, but it's important to know what information each sales rep wants to stay up-to-date on and how that information is delivered. 

A key way of setting up customized internal alerts is by using HubSpot's personalization tokens in email. Depending on what the email is covering, use personalization tokens to share contact information sales is interested in.

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Interested in getting this email template's HTML? Get it here!

What reporting metrics would help you close more deals? 

Many sales reps talk about productivity and not having a good understanding of "what is working and what isn't." Another aspect that holds sales up is prioritization and overall data organization.

There are a few different HubSpot tools that help with this, but marketing first needs to know these finer details before setting anything up. If marketers had a better idea of what areas sales needs refinement, it will only further that trust and strengthen the bind between the two. Oftentimes, marketers need to go the extra mile to get sales on board.

Two ways marketers can do this is by building custom dashboards for each sales rep in the reporting add-on, including the metrics each is interested in. From there, the reporting dashboards can be emailed out at a particular day/time on a recurring basis, allowing sales to stay on top of productivity.

Another way to help sales organize their data and refine their process is by creating custom views for contacts, companies, and/or deals. These custom views can be shared with the team and made default by each rep, helping them prioritize their contacts. 

Ready to start lacing up your smarketing shoes?

Keep in mind, it's about getting sales to see its symbiotic relationship with marketing. The "help me help you" adage rings true in this case, and if you're going to have any luck tying the two sides together, always remember: the more loops linked, the stronger the hold.


free sales and marketing alignment kit

Originally published Dec 14, 2016 2:00:00 PM, updated November 30 2017