What’s the best way to credit outbound sales activities?


In many organizations, marketing is not the only team that generates pipeline. Inside sales (SDRs, BDRs) is often also a major contributor through targeted telemarketing campaigns, outbound e-mail, and other outbounding activities.
This was the case for a fellow marketer whose organization had three pipeline streams: marketing, partner (referrals), and sales. From an attribution perspective, the organization gave full credit to the individual who secured a meeting (qualified lead). It’s simple, but is it the best way to attribute outbound sales activities?

Here’s how I would do it:

  1. Connect both marketing and outbound activity to revenue

This would be my top priority because you can’t fully determine the efficacy of any marketing activity without first connecting it to revenue. Not all leads are created equal. Some are more profitable than others and it’s entirely possible that your most successful lead source is also the contributor of the most unprofitable customers. So you need to amplify the most profitable sources. 

It’s important that you see this connection in the data. Because only then can you determine the profitability—and value—of each source. Giving credit based only on MQL is risky because you’d be overlooking the most important factor of all: profitability. 

With Sona, you can easily connect the dots by syncing data from your CRM, digital media platforms (e.g., Facebook, Google Ads), website, and even offline activities. Our dashboards are revenue focused and designed to separate the signal from the noise, the vanity metrics from the financial health of the business.

SDRs and BDRs may still be compensated on a per-lead basis but that doesn’t mean you have to compromise on attribution accuracy and profitability.

  1. Approach attribution holistically     

The other problem with using a first-touch attribution model is that you risk overlooking the contributions of the rest of the buyer’s journey. The first meeting is overweighted at the expense of all subsequent interactions.

A better way would be to look for patterns instead. What’s the most common buyer’s journey taken by opportunities created by inside sales? What can be improved to boost conversion rates for this source? What subsequent interactions in the buyer’s journey lead to the highest win rates?

Consider, too, other factors such as customer acquisition cost (CAC), sales velocity, and average deal size. Optimize the buyer’s journey for profitability. With Sona, a good place to start would be to study user and company profiles, which provide a detailed timeline of all activities from the first touch to conversion and beyond. Then, study these journeys in aggregated views across sources to further understand patterns.  

  1. Empower sales and marketing to win together

With data assembled for the entire buyer’s journey, you can abolish the us-vs-them, winner-takes-all positional mentality that divides sales and marketing. Then, turn your focus to equipping revenue teams with the right insights to prioritize the right opportunities and win together. Success is often the result of close collaboration between teams, not individual superstar performance.

I get it. As marketing leaders, we have to incentivize the right initiatives to produce desired outcomes. And to do that we need to know what works and what doesn’t. But, as we’ve seen above, giving all credit to a single touchpoint is not a good solution.

The solution is to adopt a revenue performance methodology, where the efficacy of any marketing activity is judged by its profitability, not quantity. And if the goal of outbound sales activities is to generate pipeline, then it should be treated like any other marketing activity. This would simplify the management of outbound sales activities and align the team towards the same growth objectives as the rest of the organization.