Bridging the marketing-sales divide with data

Bridging the marketing-sales divide with data

February 01, 2019

Your sales and marketing teams are supposed to be on the same page. But often the reality is that one hand doesn't know what the other is doing. Both teams deal with leads — targeting, pursuing, and converting them. But tension can quickly creep into the sales and marketing dynamic around those very leads.

“There's this constant push and pull between sales and marketing around the amount of data captured on a lead form," Mike Heller, sales leader here at Clearbit, explains.

"Marketing wants to gather more leads and grow their lists. The best way for them to do that is to make website forms as short as possible, by only asking for an email address. But what sales wants is as much information as possible about the lead coming in."

Diagnosing the marketing-sales gap

A lack of data and commmunication about leads results in some major weak spots between sales and marketing teams:

Marketing and sales alignment breaks when there's insufficient lead data

Sharing data and insights shores up these weak spots. By increasing visibility into leads earlier on in their journeys and improving information-sharing processes, you can create a marketing-sales learning loop that not only aligns both teams but helps everyone find more success in generating and closing quality leads together.

Start by enriching leads with third-party data, creating shared definitions of an ideal lead, and implementing reverse-IP lookup to identify anonymous traffic. Marketing can then pass on more data and insights about leads along to sales. The loop closes when sales funnels their learnings back over to marketing to help finesse conversion trends and inform future marketing campaigns.

Creating a closed marketing-sales learning loop with data and communication

Let's take a closer look at how sharing learnings and infusing more lead data throughout an organization helps marketing and sales move faster, increase productivity, and benefit the company as a whole.

Setting the marketing-sales learning loop in motion

There are three ways for marketing and sales to bridge their divide:

  1. Use data enrichment to gain context about leads, from signup and onwards throughout the funnel.
  2. Turn website visitor data into actionable insights for both marketing and sales teams with real-time reverse-IP lookup.
  3. Share sales reporting and analysis with marketing.

1. Use data enrichment for lead context and short forms

Back to that tug-of-war around lead data: marketing tries to get more leads in the door by requiring less information — and sales wants as much information about leads coming in. As Mike describes, "The sales organization needs details like the number of employees, or the headquarters of the company, just to figure out which sales rep to route that lead to."

Enriching lead data from the start keeps lead forms enticingly short and keeps both teams happy. With just an email address, lead information can automatically populate in Salesforce, CRM, or system of record — and sales orgs get the context they need.

You can also use dynamic forms, which simplifies forms by hiding fields unless enrichment can't find the relevant data.


Enriching leads on the backend also enables you to kick off lead scoring and qualification earlier on in the process. Once you gain visibility into who your leads are, you have the ingredients for stronger collaboration and alignment: marketing and sales join forces in defining what a good fit looks like with an ideal customer profile and move faster in their respective roles around those shared definitions.

2. Pass specific leads and marketing insights to sales

Leads interested in purchasing also exist outside of form-fills. Visiting your site is also a key sign of interest and intent. But 93% of web traffic is anonymous. Without an email address, you don't know who has stopped by and only get visibility into website traffic that turn into conversions.

Reverse IP address lookup solutions like Clearbit Reveal shed light on anonymous traffic. Based on the IP address of site visitors, you can glean company-level information on who's browsing (such as industry, sub-industry, company size, and even company name) and get a sense for how they're interacting with your website.

With this intelligence in hand, marketing teams do more than hand over lists of faceless email addresses. They can identify what types of companies are engaging online to better understand their needs and what content is resonating versus missing the mark. So if you're trying to target restaurants but find that most visitors are from the computer hardware industry, you know you need to revisit your content approach to attract the right audience.

Once marketing has data about who is visiting, they can answer questions about:

  • What messaging, materials, or campaigns are attracting target audiences
  • Details on which industries are viewing which solutions or pages
  • The specific companies and named accounts visiting your website and what they're browsing

... and then shuttle these learnings over to sales to help them close more leads by pointing them in the right direction about products, features, or use-cases, based on what's drawing certain audience segments.

For example: after launching a new enterprise feature-set, marketing can identify which types of companies are interested and engaging with that campaign content. They can report back to sales that it looks like people from large telecommunications and media companies are really interested in these new features since they're spending twice as much time browsing these pages as visitors from other industries.

Identifying best converting industries with Clearbit Reveal for Google Analytics

Marketing can also provide specific lists of companies for sales to reach out to at the right time. As Mike describes, “high-level analytics learnings go to sales, but so do the very tactical findings. Marketing can share which recently identified companies that they drove to content that are probably worth reaching out to — and sales gets more context on leads who are actively engaging.” From there, sales reps can find email addresses of people at those named accounts to reach out to.

Identifying Named Accounts visiting your website with Clearbit Reveal for Google Analytics

Having access to and sharing this data is a clear win-win for both teams. “Sales likes knowing which leads are showing more intent. And marketing likes being able to show the value of what they did,” Mike concludes.

3. Sales closes the loop with reporting

Sales teams can now close the learning loop by building on the data and refining insights that marketing passed on. If they can add to more nuanced understandings of which types of leads are more likely to close and what those leads need, they help marketing create and improve collateral. For example, sales might observe that while 50% of web traffic comes from tech companies, finance companies actually convert the best — which can then turn into a powerful tailored marketing campaign.

Sales can also generate valuable reports with sufficient lead data. Here at Clearbit, we enrich every record in Salesforce with over 100 person and company data points. This empowers team members like Mike, who doesn't write SQL or code, to arrive at valuable business insights. He can easily analyze our customer base directly from Salesforce reports, by slicing and dicing that enriched data against what's happened in the sales process — and then share learnings back with the marketing team.

The other day, Mike wanted to see how much revenue we closed this year from companies in different Alexa rank ranges (Alexa rank is an indicator of website traffic volume). If he finds insights like how companies with a particular Alexa rank range generate twice the revenue than other bands — we know that's a lever we can push on in marketing.

Here are a few more examples of questions Mike and other sales folks might look to answer through reporting:

  • What's the average deal size from companies with different numbers of employees?
  • How long does it take to sell a deal to larger companies or businesses based in different countries?
  • How well do we sell to companies with B2B versus B2C products?

Answers to explorations like these can change how teams score and qualify leads and ultimately, how marketing treats different segments. This is sales enabling marketing and the company as a whole, as Mike points out. “Having all of this data at my fingertips in a format that I know how to use and generate reports means I can make my case for what types of leads and opportunities marketing and the company should be focused on."

Joining forces for good

Immersing your sales and marketing organizations with contextual data about leads paves the way to access and share more insights about who to talk to and how to talk to them — instead of toiling away in silos without really understanding what the other team is doing or what's making an impact.

With good data and healthy communication practices, both teams can help each other succeed and advocate for themselves. A marketing team who gets tangible evidence of lead and intent data can demonstrate attribution and return on investment of their work to sales, and more broadly. And armed with knowledge that a particular cohort or bucket of leads is more valuable, sales can shed light on where it makes more sense for marketing to focus time and effort sourcing leads — which then turns into more great opportunities and deals.

At its worst, misalignment between marketing and sales teams provokes tension and holds back performance. Close the gaps between them to create a learning loop, and you'll help your company refine internal strategies, design better campaigns, and close more leads to ultimately benefit your bottom line.

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