How to improve marketing attribution without putting a strain on your sales team

One of the biggest points of friction between B2B demand generation and sales teams is attribution – the process of understanding which campaigns are contributing to sales so marketing can optimize its limited dollars for the most effective programs.

While it sounds like a simple process, it often leads to finger pointing and blame between marketing and sales.

But it doesn’t have to be that way: When companies use technology more effectively, the friction over attribution decreases.

Why the friction

To determine the assignment, marketers first look at all contacts that are connected to an opportunity in Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics or similar applications. Then they look at all the campaigns associated with each of these contacts. From there, they can determine the “first touch” that led to that revenue, the “last touch” that occurred immediately before the opportunity was created, and various forms of “multitouch” to weigh all other campaigns in between. Some companies prefer to focus only on opportunities that a company has won, while others choose to look at every opportunity that has been created, whether won or lost.

However, the cause of the friction is that the marketing team is completely dependent on the sales team to link all the contacts in a store to a new opportunity. But only a few salespeople do that. And why should they? Sellers are compensated for closing deals, not data hygiene.

In many companies, no-contact opportunities can be created, which is infinitely frustrating for demand generation teams who make good campaign investments and also want recognition for their hard work. Anger and blame follow. Such scenarios have been repeated thousands of times by B2B companies in virtually every industry.

Many marketers become obsessed with which attribution model to use – straight line, U-shaped, W-shaped, or some exotic custom model. But none of them provide even a remotely accurate picture without the correct underlying data. This is a challenge that rarely gets the attention it deserves.

The answer: technology

Even though tensions between marketing and sales over attribution and data hygiene have been evident for decades, technologies such as data orchestration platforms can change this dynamic. Automating business processes removes the tedious manual tasks salespeople must perform and provides the higher level of data accuracy that marketers need to do a better job with attributions. It’s a win for both sales and marketing.

Processes to be automated

What can software do better than humans to make attribution work?

Lead and contact deduplication

Dupes are the bane of demand generation professionals because they make good attribution impossible. If there are duplicate leads and contacts and only one of the records is associated with an opportunity, none of the campaigns linked to the other records will be credited.

Data orchestration tools can run behind the scenes to identify those dupes in real time and automatically merge them together so marketing teams have better insight into campaign performance. Sales reps save the hassle and lead routing accuracy is improved.

Lead-to-account matching

In Salesforce and similar apps, leads are independent structures that are not associated with an account or anyone else in the same company. Traditionally, sales reps have to manually “convert” a lead into another structure – a contact – that connects to an account and opportunity record. Using automated tools will save your sales team time and provide a better overview of what is going on in an account.

Contact-to-opportunity matching

Salespeople rarely include more than one contact on an opportunity. Still, about 80% of marketers surveyed in SiriusDecisions research studies stated that there are typically three or more people involved in the buying process.

Why not automatically link it to an opportunity for additional contacts who recently discussed your team or content?

In many cases (perhaps more than most would admit), salespeople do not know everyone who is involved in a purchase decision. However, in the B2B decision-making process, it is much more likely that a purchasing group rather than a single person will make the purchase decision. However, limit the mapping to specific contact roles that match your buyer personalities. For example, you don’t want to assign content marketing roles if your company traditionally only appeals to buyers in IT.

Work closely with your sales operations team, as in many companies marketing has a free hand on lead objects, but opportunities are viewed as sacred structures that belong only to sales.

Integrate partner campaigns

Companies that do a significant portion of their business through partners typically have deal registration counters that partners can use to share who they are working with. However, often this information is not reflected in the form of a campaign in Salesforce automation applications, so it does not become part of an attribution model. Automate the integration of this partner data into opportunities and your automation models will be further improved.

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By using technology to automate your attribution processes, you get more accurate attribution models that can help you make better campaign decisions, create more successful salespeople who see better inbound leads, and ultimately drive higher business revenue.

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