• Marketing plays a critical role in the launch and management of a sales force automation (SFA) system
  • Marketing is responsible for managing several features in the SFA and providing input on data and measurement strategies
  • Marketing must stay closely aligned with sales operations and IT for the organization’s SFA deployment to be successful

According to the SiriusDecisions Marketing Operations Functional Design and Investment survey conducted at the end of 2016, 56 percent of marketing operations professionals indicate they are performing technology management responsibilities in the sales force automation (SFA) system. It is the third most mentioned technology that marketing operations professionals help manage, after the marketing automation platform (MAP) and Web analytics. While marketing operations does not fully own the SFA system, it does serve as the liaison between marketing and sales operations for all marketing-related activities, providing a marketing voice to the cross-functional team that manages the SFA system. There are three critical responsibilities that marketing should hold for the organization to get the most out of its SFA system:

  • Contribute to the master data strategy. Marketing’s contact and account data is an integral part of the organization’s master data management plan. While the marketing database may not reside within the SFA, marketing tends to manage data capture at the perimeter of the IT ecosystem. At the point where data comes in, marketing must ensure its quality (i.e. cleanliness and completeness) as soon as possible. That data will flow into the SFA system over time, so ensuring sales and marketing interlock on what data is captured and how to maintain acceptable quality levels is important. In addition, a consistent taxonomy structure and standard pick lists between the the SFA system and the marketing database enable a smooth transition of data between the two systems and enables the SFA system’s contact feature to maintain a higher level of quality. Finally, marketing typically provides guidance to the process of connecting contact information to an opportunity.
  • Design marketing processes and technology integrations. In most organizations, marketing operations is responsible for marketing technology planning and associated process improvement initiatives. That includes ensuring smooth integration between the SFA and MAP as well as overall technology planning. In addition, marketing is typically responsible for the campaign object within the SFA system, ensuring there is a consistent process of campaign establishment for marketing and sales campaigns and governing its use. Outside of the campaign object, marketing usually owns the lead feature within the SFA system. In some companies that have deployed the Demand Unit WaterfallTM, marketing may manage a pre-opportunity stage prior to opportunities entering the sales funnel. Finally, marketing is responsible for ensuring marketers are trained on the proper use and service-level agreements within the SFA system.
  • Measure and produce performance results. While most sales-related reports are set up and managed by sales operations, marketing certainly has a vested interest in understanding how well marketing campaigns are filling the pipeine, increasing deal size or velocity, or closing bottom of the funnel opportunities. Therefore, marketing needs to establish its own reporting standards in the SFA system itself and/or design integration to a data visualization tool or attribution software where the SFA system is one of the core source systems. Ensuring consistent data views between marketing and sales operations is critical for establishing a level of confidence regarding data accuracy and interpretation.

While marketing has a vital role to play in the success of the organzation’s SFA system deployment, some organizations may choose to outsource this role to an agency to help support and supplement the limited marketing operations resources. For those organizations that insource the responsibility, it’s typically managed by a marketer with technological experience and expertise. Whether marketing operations serves as the marketing voice, prioritizing business requirements and resolving marketing-related issus within the SFA system, or if its an outsourced responsibility, the role must have a solid interlock with sales operations and IT.

I’d love to hear from you. What is marketing’s role within the SFA system at your organization?