Marketo and Salesforce: To Sync or Not to Sync

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Salesforce_Marketo_Sync_58572570_200pxLike a bad dancer, it’s never good to be out of sync.

Getting your systems in sync is no different–the process is a best practice that will help align Sales and Marketing, boost efficiencies, and offer better reporting.

I recently came across a great discussion in the Marketo Users and Friends LinkedIn group on when is the best time to sync your marketing automation platform with your CRM. This question is usually one of the first ones we see when new clients come aboard.

Get Your Sync On – When to Sync

With Marketo and Salesforce as an example, my general answer is to sync “early and often.” Here are 6 reasons to consider for getting your systems communicating in real time (or near real time).

  • “We maintain about 35 instance of Marketo & SFDC & and in all but three of those we always implement a carefully managed sync process.” Graham Porter, Marketing Manager, Harbour MSP

1) Build Sales Alignment and Give Visibility to Sales


Marketing does all this great stuff in Marketo and Sales works its magic in Salesforce. How about bringing over all of the data so Sales can get visibility into all the value that marketing provides AS IT HAPPENS.

Marketing never has to worry about getting the follow questions because the information will be at the reps’ fingertips?

  • “Did John sign up for the webinar next month?”
  •  “I already called the 30 hot trade show leads but want to cherry pick from the remaining 200. Who are they?”
  • “I see Ken downloaded a whitepaper. What else did he do?”

Some quotes from other marketing Gurus:

  • “If you want to engage Salespeople in your campaigns, then SFDC is their tool – their front-end to the Marketo-powered goodness that you are generating through your actions.” Graham Porter, Marketing Manager, Harbour MSP
  • “Having a 1-1 sync between a Marketo Program and SFDC Campaigns is good because it helps Sales understand what the Lead is doing and which campaigns they are responding to.” Josh Hill, Practice Lead, Perkuto
  • “By syncing campaigns to SFDC, our sales counterparts have insight into marketing and we share a set of metrics and dashboards that keep us aligned, which isn’t possible with Marketo functionality alone.” Amy Milinazzo, Sr. Manager, Time Warner Cable Business Class
  • “I sync everything as it helps Sales.” Mary Firme

2) Standardize Your Insights


Some organizations use Salesforce as its system of record for analysis while others use a combination of reports between Salesforce and Marketo. When the two systems are in sync, the numbers will be consistent.

If Marketing says it generated 1,000 new names in the system this month, Salesforce should also reflect that number. If the systems are out of sync, the integrity of the reports will decrease significantly.

  • “Prefer the full sync with SFDC, primarily so I can leverage the full power of Marketo and SFDC analytics.” Brandon Graff, Sr. Director, Marketing at Silver Peak Systems
  • “I am a big believer in “one source of truth” so I want to do all of my closed loop reporting out of Salesforce whereby there is a common set of shared reports between sales and marketing.” Zak Pines, Director of Marketing, Ipswitch

PS. Due to system and process differences, the numbers will rarely match 100% so don’t stress if your numbers are a little off.

3) Supercharge Your Data

ImproveBetter_70851350With the two systems working hand in hand, each system can leverage each other’s strengths to enrich the lead for reporting, analysis and system management.

For example, Marketo is fantastic at segmentation and data cleanup. Salesforce is great for assigning ownership and tracking opportunity value. A few of the many examples:

  • Map the Salesforce lead lifecycle to Marketo to trigger alerts and reports.
  • Utilize Salesforce opportunity values to measure ROI in Marketo.
  • Create a country normalization campaign in Marketo and leverage countries for lead assignment in Salesforce.
  • Build an industry segment in Marketo and feed into the Salesforce accounts for Salesforce analysis.

4) Streamline Your Marketing Operations


Organizations can cut down on marketing inefficiencies by syncing new leads to Salesforce quickly while utilizing Program syncs to maintain campaign history.

The Global Sync – One Time

At a global level as part of the lead lifecycle process, organizations should consider creating a global one-time Sync to Salesfore campaign whenever a new lead is created.

The Program Sync – Feed Ongoing Lead Activity into Salesforce

At the Program level, there is one button/click that does it all to sync membership between Marketo Programs and Salesforce Campaigns.

For example, a company’s Best Practice Webinar Program members will automatically sync with its equivalent Salesforce campaign whenever a new member arrives. If a lead’s status changes from “Registered” to “Attended,” that status will automatically feed into Salesforce to give Sales instant visibility. There is no more worrying about maintaining all kinds of separate Add to SF Campaign campaigns.

5) Reduce Errors and Duplicates


Organizations can also reduce errors and duplicates when the systems are in sync.

For example, what if a lead responds to a trade show follow-up email but lives only in Marketo? The rep will end up entering the person as a new lead in Salesforce which will create a duplicate in Marketo. Additionally, the rep would have no insight into the trade show activity. That event history would get orphaned with the original lead unless it gets deduped at some point.

Having Salesforce and Marketo in sync also reduces troubleshooting time when things go wrong.

6) Cut Down on Marketo Licensing Costs


This is one tip that comes courtesy of Graham Porter, Marketing Manager, Harbour MSP.

  • “Marketo charges by the #of records. Salesforce does not. So, if you think about it, you can store your data inside of SFDC and only sync some of the records to Marketo. This needs very very very careful control.”

Caution: Why Would a Company NOT do a Sync?

lighteningMSWe’ve talked about all the great benefits to syncing data between the systems. What about the other side of the coin? We will cover these topics in detail as part of an early November blog post. In the meantime, here are a few things to consider.

The biggest reason I hear is that the Sales team does not want to get bogged down with unqualified leads. For example, no Sales rep wants to call 250 trade show attendees that just signed up for a contest. If your organization has a proper lifecycle setup correctly, this should not be an issue. A best practice is to sync everything and hide the non Sales-ready leads from Sales through various views or statuses.

  • “If your lead management process is set up to leverage the Sirius Decisions model, then the unregistered masses will sit below the fold with an unqualified lead status.” Brandon Graff, Sr. Director, Marketing at Silver Peak Systems
  • “Sync all Leads to SFDC. That does not mean sending all leads to Sales. You can easily move leads into holding Queues and use Marketo triggers and SFDC triggers to assign Marketing Qualified Leads to a salesperson, or even an SDR Queue” Josh Hill, Practice Lead, Perkuto

There are several other considerations including legacy systems, aversion to change, license limits and more.  However, in most cases, the benefits of syncing far outweigh the drawbacks of not syncing.


In summary, keeping your systems in sync is a best practice that will help boost efficiencies, improve Sales visibility and increase reporting effectiveness. As always, your situation may vary.

If you have anything missed here, please share your own experiences.

A special thanks to all of those quoted who participated in the Anyone syncing Salesforce & Marketo campaigns? Linkedin discussion in the Marketo Users and Friends group.

Published by Jeff Coveney.



Josh Verrill

Services: Strategy, Assessment, Ongoing Services

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