Closing the Loop Between Sales and Marketing – The 4-Step Process
The following is an excerpt from IMPACT's popular ebook, "The Expert Guide for Aligning Sales & Marketing." For more expert tips on streamlining your marketing and sales strategies, be sure to check out the full ebook.
Given that closed-loop reporting is statistically-driven, you probably have already figured out that you’ll need specific tools to be able to provide you with that data. There are two sets of tools that you’ll need:
1. Customer Relationship Management Software (CRM)
2. Marketing Software
You’ll need to get your hands on some quality CRM software to help you sync up all of your sales, marketing, and customer support teams. This is essential in keeping them all on the same page.
Closing the Loop Between Sales and Marketing
Marketing software is essential as it will hold all of your marketing data. The end result is that your marketing software will allow you to optimize your marketing campaigns, improve your conversion rates, and more. We at IMPACT encourage our clients to use the HubSpot marketing software, as it provided the most accurate and in depth data amongst all of the marketing tools that we’ve worked with in the past.
No matter what tools you’re using for both CRM and marketing, you will need to integrate the two tools together so that both are able to “talk” to each other. When you integrate the two tools, all teams will be able to see the results of the other team.
For example, if a sales representative closes a sale or a deal, then they can mark that lead as “won” in the CRM. You can then set up the tools to send a communication out to the Marketing team advising them as such, or the customer service team, or whoever you think should be notified. All teams will then also be able to see where the lead came from, what pages they visited, when they became a lead, and when they became a customer.
The Role Sales and Marketing Play: Steps 1 and 2
Step 1 and 2 of the closed-loop reporting process is more when Marketing will be an active participant, but Sales should play a passive role in the process too. Step 1 of the closed loop reporting process is how a visitor arrived on a site, and a cookie is set on his or her referral source. Below is a picture of the HubSpot Sources tool which will tell you exactly which source brought a lead to your site:
- Knowing where a lead came from is critically important in terms of lead nurturing. For instance, seeing that a lead came from an email that was advertising a certain type of promotion will give Marketing insight on what that particular visitor was looking for and what they can offer them in the future to continue to bring them along the buying cycle.
- But the benefit isn’t all for the Marketing team; sales can certainly benefit from this too. When Marketing passes a lead over to Sales to close a deal, it’s important for them to know where a lead came from. That way, Sales will be able to further tailor their closing tactics to help ensure a “win”.
“Knowing where a lead came from is critically important in terms of lead nurturing”
Step 2 is all about tracking the moves that a visitor makes on your site, which can benefit Sales in the same way as step 1: knowing where a lead came from, and what they did on the site, will give them invaluable insight on what the lead is interested in and help them formulate the best plan on how to convert a lead into a customer.
Of course, Marketing needs to know where a visitor is going as well to help them determine how to best lead a lead through the sales funnel as well. Seeing what pages a visitor went to helps them determine what that individual is interested in, and they can then send customized materials out to that visitor based on that information.
The Role Sales and Marketing Play: Step 3
Step 3 is all about having that visitor convert into a lead by having them submit some sort of lead-capture form in to you, whether it be through them proving you their email address for an eBook or for a regular email to be sent to them, or them providing you with a phone number in order to sign up for a free consultation. When a visitor turns into a lead, it means that marketing has done their job right.
Getting a visitor to turn into a lead often isn’t the easiest of tasks. While some visitors will instantly hit your landing page and sign up for that free white paper you’re offering, many will need to be “romanced” a bit more before they take any action whatsoever.
Marketing’s primary objective here, since they don’t have the ability to really contact this visitor until they give their contact information (i.e. email address or phone number) is to monitor what that visitor does on which page, and to then figure out which calls to action should be placed on which pages to help increase the amount of visitors that become leads.
We at IMPACT always recommend that once enough statistical data is gathered, a company should sit down and split each page of their website into a different “phase” of the buying cycle. You’ll notice that some brand new visitors will visit “x” page more often than “x” page and after viewing “x” offer, and so on. This will give you clues as to what sorts of offers – or CTAs – you should be placing on each page to help further entice and excite a visitor about your company, product or service.
This information is important for the Sales team too, however. Sales needs to know what drew that visitor in and turned them into a lead so that they’ll have a good understanding of what exactly that particular person was looking for when they came to the site. When armed with that knowledge, in addition to the knowledge gained from step 1 and step 2 of the closed- loop reporting process, they’ll be able to come up with a far more intuitive and therefore successful sales pitch.
The Role Sales and Marketing Play: Step 4
Want to know how your visitors turned into sales? Step 4 “closes the loop”, so to speak, by telling you that a sale was made and that it was the result of a particular marketing channel/initiative.
When we work with our clients, oftentimes Marketing has no idea what happened to a lead after they sent them away to the Sales team. By letting Marketing in on which leads became customers and which didn’t, they’ll then be able to further optimize the channels that generated those leads and customers, and perhaps look at developing new and different ways of using other less profitable channels in hopes of turning them into profitable ones.
By having Sales be able to see exactly how the visitor/lead/customer acquisition process started and where it ended, it’ll also help them both further appreciate Marketing and realize how much both teams need to work together when it comes to closing sales.
One thing that often happens after the two teams come together is that they begin to discuss not only what a “lead” is, but more importantly, what a “qualified” lead is. It’ll likely surprise you just how differently both teams view a “qualified” lead.
Closed-loop reporting gives them an opportunity to identify qualified leads and come to an agreement on which leads are qualified and should be passed to Sales, and which are not. As a result, your resources will be better optimized as you’ll have your two teams focusing on the visitors/leads that are most likely to buy rather than those that aren’t.
About John Bonini
As the Marketing Director of IMPACT from 2013-May 2015, John lead the IMPACT marketing team. He also wrote for the HubSpot Blog, Social Media Examiner, and Convince & Convert among others. In his free time, John enjoys playing guitar, high-fives, and anything with marinara sauce.