It’s a best practice to have your sales CRM and marketing automation systems syncing data back and forth. Launching a successful sales and marketing data sync project is all about alignment. Ensuring your sales and marketing teams are working in unison with the most up-to-date data will increase ROI on both sides of the fence.
But if you don’t have an integration, or the one you have isn’t working effectively, here are the steps to take and questions you need to answer in order to find a better solution.
Step 1: Align on “Why”
You don’t want to setup a data integration “just because.” You want your sales and marketing leadership (or sales and marketing operations) to be aligned on why you are taking the time to setup a continuous data sync.
There are many reasons why a bi-directional data sync between your marketing and sales team is a wise investment. Here are five key reasons why putting your time and resources in this type of project is a smart idea:
#1: Greater effectiveness converting leads to opportunities/$
Automate lead delivery of qualified to sales (no delays)
Provide sales with visibility to context for leads
#2: Time savings for marketing and sales ops resources
Remove the step of manually uploading data across systems
Remove confusion caused by inaccurate or inconsistent data between sales and marketing
#3: Greater marketing effectiveness in targeting database
Marketing segmentation using CRM data
Automated campaigns (e.g. lead nurturing) based on CRM data syncing back
#4: Closed loop reporting on marketing analytics
Measure lead converting to $ based on CRM outcomes
#5: Avoid miscommunication to customers
A sync will ensure you don’t mis-segment your data, so you don’t end up talking to prospects like customers, or customers like prospects, etc.
Or worse, get into compliance issues around opt-out, permissions, etc. based on data not syncing correctly
Step 2: Align on Use Cases
Once you have alignment on the why, the next step is to align on the major use cases enabled by bi-directional data flows between your marketing and sales systems.
Some use cases will be more technically challenging, so you can start with one and then evolve to others later. For example, if there is a lot of complexity or dirty data around customer account data in your CRM, automated lead delivery can be a “quick win” that gets enabled while CRM data is cleaned up for better integration down the road.
Here are some of the top marketing and sales use cases and their benefits:
Automated lead delivery
- Remove delays from leads being qualified by marketing and then sent to sales/SDR teams in CRMs
- Create smoother end to end processes and lead follow up
- Achieve an automated lead sync from marketing automation to CRM
Visibility via CRM to key marketing intelligence
- Provide sales teams with the right information on why they are receiving leads
- Give sales context, such as the action prospects took to get into your marketing database (first conversion) or to become qualified (most recent conversion) so the sales team can be as targeted as possible in how they engage with prospects and customers
- Achieve better hand offs to sales by ensuring marketing intelligence fields are mapped from marketing automation to CRM, and made visible to CRM users on leads and contacts
Better segmentation via marketing automation
- Ensure marketing team has complete, accurate, and up-to-date CRM data for marketing targeting
- Provide segmentation for marketing outreach and automation for lead nurturing
- Create data-driven segmentation (smart lists) in the marketing system by syncing contact and opportunity data from CRM to marketing systems
Closed loop reporting in marketing automation
- Ensure marketing team can close the loop on connecting original leads/marketing engagement through to sales/CRM outcomes
- Achieve a better understanding of the customer journey
Step 3: Align on Process
Sales and marketing alignment on the “why” for your integration project and the key use cases are the must-haves to set your data sync project in motion. Once you’ve cleared these steps, it’s time to focus on answering these key questions:
Question #1: When to sync records from marketing automation to CRM?
A bi-directional sync should give you the freedom to choose when a marketing lead should sync to your CRM, without requiring a full sync of both databases. A full sync of both databases (aka syncing all lead records from your marketing system to CRM) usually isn’t possible because a CRM has minimal data requirements to create records. A subscriber to your blog or newsletter just providing an email address won’t have the minimum fields required by your CRM to create a new record.
By syncing leads entered from your CRM to your marketing automation, you’ll ensure that sales created leads in your CRM will still match to even sole email addresses sitting in your marketing automation, thus keeping the original marketing sources connected to CRM outcomes.
With that flexibility, you can choose when records should sync. The way to answer this question is to think about when you want to provide visibility to your sales team to a record—either through a lead assignment or allowing them to “cherry pick” leads in a queue. Usually this aligns to what you would tag as a Marketing Qualified Lead, using a field such as Lifecycle Stage in HubSpot or Lead Revenue Stage in Marketo.
Pro Tip: Use a single field such as Lifecycle Stage = Marketing Qualified Lead to drive the syncing of a lead record from marketing automation to CRM. Have rules within your marketing automation to advance leads to that stage, e.g. based on specific actions, lead score, or whatever your specific rules are.
Question #2: What data does sales want visibility into?
When records are synced to a CRM, you want to ensure that your sales team has the right context or intelligence around those individuals to have an effective sales conversation.
You’ll want to identify which fields in your marketing system, such as a lead source or a recent conversion field, provide the right content to your sales team. Look at what fields contain key data around the interests of those prospects, and other crucial data that will best equip your reps for discussions.
Question #3: What segmentation does marketing need to drive campaigns?
An automated data sync should remove the manual upload process that in the past may have preceded marketing sending out a campaign to a database. The data will now reside directly in the marketing automation system, ready for segmentation. Look at data in the CRM and identify which fields are used to segment your database. These fields are likely living in records such as:
Leads and Contacts: how you segment individuals (Title, Role, Location)
Accounts / Companies: how you segment businesses (Revenue, Number of Employees, Industry)
Opportunities: incorporating specific deal data such as if there is an open opportunity, the stage, or special details on the opportunity
Pro Tip: Syncing relationships as well, e.g. a Contact:Account relationship makes it possible to segment contacts based on account data. This makes straightforward account-based targeting simple from within your marketing automation system.
Question #4: Which nurture streams are available?
This is a more advanced use case and is often a ‘phase 2’ of a data sync for most companies. It includes setting up automated lead nurture streams or sequences based on data syncing back from the CRM to the marketing automation. These nurtures are implemented based off key criteria known about prospects.
A very simple and effective way to do this is to create field nurture streams, and allow a sales rep/CRM user to choose from that drop down. Sync that as a field to your marketing automation, and use that as a trigger/enrollment criteria for the sequence. It allows sales rep to have 100% control, while leveraging the power of automation to take some of the manual work out of the process.
Here’s a screenshot of what that can look like. This particular example is SugarCRM but can be done in any CRM:
Pro Tip: Ensure you take into account how contacts are removed from a given nurture stream as part of the setup on the marketing automation side as well.
Step 4: Align on Data
By this step, you’re getting into the specific fields you want to setup as part of your bi-directional data sync. For each of your main objects, for example Contacts, Company/Account and Opportunity/Deal, you want to list the specific fields you want to sync, per the table below:
This exercise will help you identify if there are fields that don’t yet exist in one of the two systems. These fields will need to be created, and then they can be mapped.
Fields which exist in both systems but have different values need to have their picklists updated to match in the respective systems. This will help avoid errors in synching data. For example, if you are syncing opportunities from your CRM to marketing automation for closed loop marketing reporting, and there is a field for Opportunity Stage, you’ll want the picklist values to match in both systems.
The final consideration for each field mapping will be how you want the sync to behave once records are in both systems. System of record allows you to set a given system to be authoritative (not updated by the other system), or you can have “most recent updated” as the behavior and thus have data truly syncing back and forth. As this may vary based on the type of fields and how you view data ownership, you’ll want to make these decisions are made on a per field basis.
One of our fundamental beliefs is that a data integration/data sync needs to evolve as the needs of the business (e.g. sales and marketing teams) evolve. Keep in mind that none of the decisions you make during your data sync are final decisions; nothing is locked down forever.
The steps above will help you identify a starting point to use to launch your sales and marketing data sync project. But do realize that your projects will need to evolve as your needs evolve. Formstack Sync makes it easy to adjust your data sync projects over time, because you can self-manage your data and make updates as requirements inevitably change.