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How Best to Instrument Salesforce to Support Sales and Marketing Alignment

A man smiles at the AppExchange Idea Board at Dreamforce 2022.

A complex B2B software sales takes multiple marketing campaign engagements, on top of sales engagements to nurture a prospect to a close. It is never a straight shot from an initial engagement to a purchase order. In such complex go-to-market environments, sales and marketing alignment becomes a crucial function for revenue teams, and yet comes the most under scrutiny for the lack of it. 

To build a supporting infrastructure, CRMs such as Salesforce, if instrumented to their full potential, can be the tool that aligns sales and marketing efforts by tracking customer interactions and preferences, measuring campaign performance, segmenting customers based on their needs, and creating clean handoffs between sales and marketing.

CRM instrumentation is the process of setting up relevant data capture and intelligence capabilities in your CRM platform. The goal of a good CRM instrumentation is to be able to collect more data about your sales and marketing activities and to use that data to make more informed decisions about your go-to-market strategy. 

Your CRM should be able to answer to:   
Where did our major deals come from and which campaigns influenced them?
"How many engagements did we need to close a deal?
 Which types of engagements?”, and “ When and how do we declare a lead sales-ready?

A well-structured CRM instrumentation will improve data intelligence on your revenue acquisition efforts, better sales and marketing alignment, and more informed decision-making.

While the exercise might seem overwhelming at the start– such as increased data complexity and a higher level of technical expertise required to configure and maintain the data capture and intelligence capabilities– understanding some key aspects and addressing some fundamental data requirements will help you meet your data objectives better. 

The ever-expansive Salesforce partner ecosystem makes many of these setups less daunting with the plug-and-play options with their direct API integrations. While tools such as LeanData help with lead-to-account matching (vital as your GTM goes upstream), others like Rollup Helper helps aggregate individual lead scores to their corresponding accounts for engagement-based account scoring and progression. Similarly, Cloudingo helps with deduping existing records to keep data quality on track. 

All of these setups are also highly compatible with account-based marketing strategies organizations find the most success with today. In that vein, the first tip as part of your Salesforce instrumentation best practice is to pay attention to the ‘Account’ object and make sure all relevant data fields feed into it for a holistic view at all times.

To support sales and marketing alignment, Salesforce can be instrumented in several ways to track engagement and performance between funnel stages. Here are a few tips for the type of data fields you must consider when using Salesforce in a complex B2B setup to allow for tracking a wide variety of engagement and velocity metrics, a key requirement in assessing the efficacy of your go-to-market strategy. 

Correctly using these instrumentation practices can provide detailed insight into how prospects interact with sales and marketing materials, campaigns, and other outreach efforts, allowing businesses to optimize their strategies accordingly.

1. Track ‘First Touch’ and ‘Most Recent Touch’. You can do this by creating two custom fields for every key interaction-specific data field in the lead object (fields that will change with every interaction by way of capturing the most recent interaction).

This will help with two things:
- Understanding campaign/channel effectiveness for sourcing versus progression
- Retaining first-touch information lets you measure lead velocity

Simply put:
- First Touch Data Field – informs you on the channels that work best for sourcing 
- Most Recent Touch Field – informs you on your subsequent channels/campaigns for conversion /funnel progression.

2. Record UTMs and use Campaigns for attribution tracking to be able to map out your prospect’s journey. As a marketer, you are already using UTM parameters for your digital conversion points such as webforms, LinkedIn Forms, etc. Create custom fields in your CRM to capture the most pertinent UTM parameters such as Source and Campaign. 

Try structuring the UTM fields around the first-touch and most recent touch dual fields concepts. This helps with more visibility into sourcing versus progression campaigns and gives sales a good heads-up on the most recent interaction with the prospect. 

Use the campaigns object in Salesforce for multi-touch attribution. At the very minimum, campaigns help you tie together a lead or a contact’s interaction with your initiative. Further along, you can also measure ROI and outcomes of opportunities that resulted from a particular initiative.

Furthermore, Campaigns also give you visibility on how many interactions are needed to get a lead sales-ready.

Here are some ideal use cases to name specific campaigns for:

- Trade Shows/Events
- Email campaigns
- Webinars
- Direct Mail
- Display Ads
- Content Syndication Programs
- Partner Co-marketing / Affiliate Marketing

3. Date stamp key engagement/responses. Date stamping allows you to track when an event occurred and informs your velocity metrics, overall. This information can be used to improve your sales process, identify bottlenecks, and measure performance. 

There are a few different ways to date stamp key engagements in Salesforce. While the built-in activity timeline provides a detailed view of all events that occurred during a one-to-one engagement, including email, phone calls, meetings, and tasks, you can also create custom fields to track specific events. Creating custom fields is especially useful if you want to capture data that is not already being tracked by Salesforce.

Marking a prospect’s progress to a key funnel stage such as promotion to an MQL or stamping the date a prospect first converts on a marketing outreach are some good examples of what to date stamp.

There is no such thing as ‘over-capturing’ when it comes to recording data in your CRM. However, the right instrumentation and automation are needed to facilitate clean and complete data capture that businesses can use to make data-driven decisions to impact their entire go-to-market flywheel.

Ready to get the most out of Salesforce? Check out solutions and experts on AppExchange today! 

About the author: Jyoti Bagaria is a growth marketing enthusiast who helps B2B tech companies and startups accelerate their growth, break into new markets, and keep their sales and marketing tech stack smooth.
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