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Breaking Down Silos: Integrating Sales and Marketing

Your marketing team is meant to get in the way of your sales team, right?


That’s very, very wrong.

The goal of your marketing should be to make sales easier.

But if neither team knows what the other is doing, how’s that meant to happen?

We wanted to know too!

So, we got Cognism’s very own CMO, Alice de Courcy, and our Global Head of Sales, Jonathon Ilett, together to talk us through it.

Flick through the menu to learn more about breaking down silos and getting your sales and SaaS marketing teams integrated. 👇

Aligning on targets | The role of MDRs | Having a revenue team | Listen to Cognism’s revenue podcast

Aligning on targets 

In B2B sales, your targets underpin your revenue engine.

Meaning your target determines your:

  • Headcount allocation
  • And your predicted revenue

Cognism is a very metrics-driven organisation, and so we work off of the predictable revenue model.

Jonathon explains how this works:

“When you look at it from an SDR cold outbound perspective, it’s very easy to draw synergy between the number of demos you need, to opportunities, to close. And then the way we do this from a marketing perspective is kind of unique. Our marketing team actually has a target on their head.”

So, how does that work?

It’s much the same as your outbound sales team would have.

Each month, the marketing team is responsible for meeting their target.

Cognism made this predictable by measuring a lot of the components on an individual level and then creating a set conversion rate.

Jonathon elaborates on this:

“With our marketing team there are two focuses for us and those are content leads and inbound leads. When we look at the content leads, we treat these as cold leads - so the MDR team gets comped exactly as they would for a cold lead from nowhere but with a warmer introduction.”

Cognism also evaluates their SQOs and from those works out how many deals will come through.

And then, from all of these metrics, sales and marketing align by giving marketing an ultimate revenue target.

The marketing leads are treated like golden leads; they get very clear SLAs on how quickly these inbound leads need to be actioned.

Alice doubled-down on how important actioning your inbound marketing leads is:

“At Cognism, from the management layer, the importance of those inbound leads was very clearly set. Their importance to the business must be continuously stressed, as this can get lost from time to time.”

Alice walks us through the steps Cognism has to ensure this importance is not lost on our sales team:

  • Having agreed SLAs with the inbound MDRs
  • Specialising the MDR role (read on to see how 😉)
  • Daily automated Salesforce reports sent to all management at the end of the day (this is to keep tabs on whether the inbounds have been actioned within the SLAs)
  • Steps to follow when the inbounds have not been actioned

Alice cautions against having a B2B marketing team that’s completely reactionary to sales requests.

“Being in reactionary mode makes it very difficult for the team to actually have a plan and to execute a strategy. The way to avoid this is for marketers to set themselves a very clear strategy and plan. This should be signed off by all the key stakeholders that need to know about it.

Then, you should set an expectation with the rest of the business, especially sales, that you have 80% capacity focused on that plan and executing that strategy, and then you action ad hoc requests from sales and other parts of the business with the other 20% of your capacity. This means you won’t be constantly distracted from your goal.”

As your marketing team is bringing the plan to life, your business will be able to see how successful they’re being in meeting their revenue target.

And, they’ll see the value of focusing on the goal rather than being distracted by things outside of it.

Alice suggests going to your leadership and getting a revenue number for your team, if you don’t already have one.


Because when you make the shift to your marketing team owning a revenue number, you’ll see that it gives you:

  • A much stronger seat at the board and with management.
  • It aligns you to sales so much better.

Once you’ve got this in place, you’ll want to look at your lead attribution in order to track the leads that are coming in from your marketing activity.

Alice explains the technicality of this:

“Essentially, it all starts with enabling all of your forms - so that you’re tracking your UTM links, and then you need to ensure that you’re using UTM links for absolutely everything that you’re doing. And, that you’re pushing those UTM parameters through your forms - that your hidden UTMs are being captured on the form level and then ensure your Salesforce app is set up to capture this.

The three UTM parameters Cognism tracks are lead source, campaign type, and characteristic. This lets us track the lead completely from a lead contract level, all the way through to opportunity and close-won stage.”

Cognism also uses a U-shaped attribution model, built out in Salesforce.

Once you’re on top of your revenue and lead attribution, you’ll want to look at one key-player 👇

The role of the MDRs 


Never heard of them.

Well, you’re going to want to create this role in your team if that’s the case!

A marketing development rep is solely responsible for any leads generated from the marketing function.

That includes leads that come through from:

  • Content
  • Webinars
  • Events

The MDR’s target is completely based on this.

Jonathon expands on the MDR role:

“The beauty of this role is that they sit hybrid between the sales function and the marketing function. So, they directly report into sales and get all the sales training on standard sales processes in terms of how they action leads, but they also feedback directly on any content marketing channels that we focus on at Cognism. So, essentially they’re reporting to both a sales leader and our CMO.”

“The way I like to view it is that SDRs are targeting cold leads - they’re basically spearfishing, whereas MDRs primary focus is to qualify out leads. They have much more in-depth conversations, as an Account Executive would on a discovery call. The benefit of this is that the talent pool of your MDRs progresses much faster towards those AE roles.”

The MDR plays a crucial role in actioning leads.

Your MDR is the first vendor that’s approaching potential clients, so there’s a lot of revenue that’ll come on the back of these conversations.

That’s why you should be comping this role on a commission-based structure, as you would for your outbound leads.

And to make sure it’s as incentivising too.

Alice has a list of tips on how to implement this role into your team:

  • Keep the role within the sales structure - not in the marketing team but ensure they work closely with marketing
  • Position the role as a promotion - to align with the idea of these leads being better leads than outbound leads
  • Specialise the role - you’ll see so much value in people specialising in content and inbound leads vs outbound leads and then distributing these to your SDRs
  • Make sure your MDRs are actioning your inbound leads within a couple of minutes
  • Tie it to your compensation model
  • Have an open feedback loop between your MDRs and the marketing team

And then, to really seal the deal on those silos coming down, you’ll want to ensure you 👇

Have a revenue team 

“The way that we view the revenue team is that it’s really just combining all the key leadership figures that are responsible for actually getting that revenue number.”

Jon goes on to explain who makes up Cognism’s revenue team:

“We have our revenue ops department, marketing ops, our SDR manager, our Account Executive manager, and the marketing team. We have bi-monthly syncs where we go over the key initiatives that we’re working on that are likely to impact those departments, or we strategise on a particular issue - like a campaign roll-out, for example. We also align on departments and their promotion paths.

We also have a weekly kick-off where we bring all of our marketing employees and sales employees together. In the meeting, each department goes through their performance by channel - this is incredibly important as each department is very clear on their attribution in terms of revenue. The aim of the kick-off is to go through our processes on a granular level, and to celebrate wins with rewards.”

Another great way to integrate your teams into your revenue team is through a Slack channel.

It’s a positive channel where you can share meetings booked, signed deals, and opportunities created.

This really combines the two departments and breaks down the traditional silos between your marketing and sales teams!

Tip! Discover more about merging your teams with this article on inbound vs outbound marketing.

Listen to Cognism’s revenue podcast 

Alice and Jonathon had such incredible advice that we simply couldn’t fit it all into this blog.

Not to worry though!

We’ve got the full sales podcast on hand for you to listen to.

Make sure you're taking notes when they get to the bit on content and personal branding!

Listen here 👇

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