Transparency vs Technology: Lead Discovery

Transparency vs Technology: Lead Discovery

April 2020 | Marketing Operations

Comprehensive lead scoring and accurate lead routing are important, but does marketing give sales enough insight to follow-up new MQLs?

For many marketers, getting Sales to follow up on new MQLs can be as challenging as generating them in the first place. Marketing controlled tele-qualification has been introduced to fill in the gap, with god results. Whichever way you do it, complaints about lead quality can often ensure. There are many reasons for this. For starters, it is vital to ensure the rep making the call has enough information to follow up any initial interest. This is why Sales alignment has become an increasingly important part of any marketing department's responsibilities.

Sales and Marketing alignment covers a wide range of requirements across the full scope of the funnel. All of which are essential to driving increased conversion rates. The specific responsibilities of marketing will vary by organisation, as Sales Operations will have solutions in the same area too. Strong coordination and alignment with Sales is a requirement for any successful marketing team.


It all starts by making sure that Sales are briefed on all campaigns that marketing is running, the key value proposition behind the campaign, as well as the best follow up options. Producing sales guides for inside sales and campaign specific call scripts for tele-qualification are long established practices. The most successful marketing teams go beyond this to provide a full campaign kit with follow up collateral to support that all important first conversation.

The practice of providing lead nurture campaigns for sales rejected leads is long established, but needs to be automated. Pipeline acceleration nurtures for Sales accepted leads generally have a far lower take up. It takes a lot of time and trust before reps are comfortable with marketing comms being sent to prospects with whom they're in active conversations. Sales automation tools have solved this problem by publishing multi-channel campaign playbooks for ISRs to use when communicating for their hottest prospects.

Marketing has a lot to contribute when writing Sales playbooks, in terms of content, collateral and user experience expertise. However, they need to respect departmental boundaries when it comes to providing the tools and platforms that Sales use to execute those playbooks. ISRs won't adopt sales toolkits or playbooks unless they have full control over the timing and messages being sent to their contacts in their name. There have been plenty of sales deals over the years that were jeopardised by ill advised or badly timed interventions from someone else in the business, so concerns over control are not entirely overblown.


Of course, the biggest barrier to any adoption of sales playbooks and enablement collateral has always been ease of use. Sales have a well deserved reputation for ignoring anything that doesn't directly help them close deals. Adoption of CRM systems has long been a challenge for many organisations. Salesforce or Dynamics are seen as little more than admin for many reps. Without strong incentives to keep opportunity data in CRM up to date, they rarely bother unless corporate culture encourages it.

Consequently, the traditional marketing automation approach of building sales enablement tools into the CRM system has always had mixed results. Marketing engagement dashboards such as Eloqua Profiler or Marketo Sales Insight have been widely used, because contact information and activity history is something that Sales look for in Salesforce or Dynamics to begin with. The main problem with such marketing activity history lists is the lack of context around what solutions or products each email or campaign relates and what the appropriate sales follow up actions actually are. This is often resolved by creating tasks or new lead records when leads qualify for Sales or LDR follow up.


The missing piece of any alignment effort is often lead discovery, particularly in an ABM context. New leads are the one thing Sales want the most from marketing, yet efforts in this area tend to be restricted to heavily curated lead queues. The leading organisations control lead routing careful with complex assignment rules that feed leads into the most relevant reps ranked by lead score. Usage of co-dynamic lead scores, allows both an urgency and a profile fit score to the rep to be displayed to the rep. This can work well in new business scenarios where reps are assigned to hundreds or thousands of accounts, so need automation to determine which ones to call next. Higher up the value chain, this approach breaks down because the rep will have more detailed knowledge of each lead and account than any marketing platform or CRM database.

For this reason, a more rounded approach to lead discovery is required, especially when it comes to large accounts. Tools such as 6Sense use external data and machine learning to not only rank accounts by the level of engagement but also to provide the keywords that contacts in the account are searching for. Their predictive data feeds into marketing automation and CRM for use in routing, segmentation and scoring. CRMT's award-winning Sales Insight Engine offering takes this one stage further by aggregating all marketing and sales activity across the business into an ABM dashboard for each ISR. This dashboard not only scores each account's activity relative to other accounts but also provides the full context around what campaigns, assets and topics each account has engaged with. In this way, Sales are offered a visual ranking of their most active accounts, but can also explore the accounts and identify the sales triggers and lead actions most relevant to them.

Plenty of companies have tried to solve the lead discovery challenge, particularly in the context of ABM. AI and Machine Learning has become an increasingly important part of any solution space over recent decades. However, visibility and transparency often suffer when AI is used exclusively. If Sales don't trust the algorithm or marketing team feeding them leads they will ignore them. Giving Sales the tools to make their own qualification decisions is just as important, but tends to be forgotten in a rush to implement a purely technology based solution. Businesses rely on human judgement to close deals, but marketing and sales need to work together to deliver the tools needed for sales reps to use that judgement.

Written by
Marketing Operations Consultant and Solutions Architect at CRMT Digital specialising in marketing technology architecture. Advisor on marketing effectiveness and martech optimisation.