The Marketing Operations Playbook – aligning Sales and Marketing in one document

Alignment across the company is one of the most valuable and important elements to organizations succeeding. It’s just like the rowing team in the featured image of this post … if you don’t have the team rowing together you’re not going to win the race. I know this article specifically called out “marketing and sales alignment” in it’s title but in reality this is applicable to the entire organization.

Staying aligned within an organization is hard — particularly if you’re in a fast-paced environment where every day feels like a fleeting moment — and supporting alignment within a rapidly growing company (particularly the marketing and sales teams) can be extremely fulfilling and challenging at the same time.

One of my favorite activities to improve marketing and sales alignment is to build the Marketing Operations Playbook [MOP]. The remainder of this post is to share what that is to me and how I build them… let me know what you think in the comments!

What is a “Marketing Operations Playbook”?

The Marketing Operations Playbook is meant to serve as the organizations official document on the processes, procedures, and tools for handling all the people that move through the Marketing & Sales funnel.

The Marketing Operations Playbook should also act as an anchor for the organizations lifecycle program. This means all new and existing employees should be able to refer to the MOP to have a clearer understanding of how a record will move through the lifecycle stages of the business.

Tip: Because every business will have unique departments, roles, tools, and terminology it’s important to build out the MOP with stakeholders from across the organization to ensure nothing is missed.

Why Build a Marketing Operations Playbook?

One of the reasons I build MOP’s in my organization is to support employees. The Marketing Operations Playbook clearly defines all the tools, systems, and processes a new (or existing) employee should know. The clearer an employee is on the systems and processes that are in use, the easier (and faster) it will be for a the new employee to ramp up.

Ultimately, It’s all about ramping up with speed and efficiency. Any good manager or business owner will tell you to spend time training your employees and get them ramped up quickly. The sooner they are more autonomous the better.

What’s in a Marketing Operations Playbook?

There are some pretty common questions that come up when a company is growing, particularly if you are growing fast. Some of the ways a MOP can help is when employees need answers to common questions like:

  • What is the difference between an iMQL and MQL?
  • What tools do we use for CRM and Marketing?
  • How do we manage marketing campaigns?
  • How are lead sources attributed to records?

Although every organization is different, I believe there are at least 9 key elements that should always exist in the standard MOP.

  1. Demand Generation Tools
  2. Sales Tools
  3. Internal Communication Tools
  4. Lifecycle Management
  5. Lead Source Attribution
  6. Opportunity Source Attribution
  7. Marketing Campaign Management & Reporting
  8. Internal Document Management
  9. Definitions / Index

Below I’ve expanded on what goes into those 9 elements (in no particular order) that I have often placed in my MOP.

The Standard Marketing Operations Playbook Elements:

Demand Generation Tools

Use this section to define any and all demand generation tools your organization is using. Include as many tools as your organization has in place and be sure to ask your team and other colleagues if you have missed something.

Once you have them all listed, take the time to individually define what the purpose of the tool is and how your organization is using it.

Tip: If you have multiple tools and managers and maybe multiple stakeholders, it’s also helpful to add the Manager of the tool and the stakeholder(s) involved. Something like this:

[Name of Tool]
Manager: Mike Rizzo, Marketing Person
Stakeholder: Bob Smith, VP of Marketing

Sales Tools

Be clear about the tools you’re using in the Sales organization. This is the same methodology used in the “Demand Genration Tools” section but specific to the Sales team.

It’s extremely important to be thorough, so if you’re not sure what tools are being used by the sales team, ask the head of sales and any of the sales reps what they use to do their job.

Some examples of tools you might list are:

  • CRM (Salesforce, SugarCRM, HubSpot)
  • Prospecting Tools (Salesloft, etc.)

Tip: Even if you think you’ve covered all the tools, don’t hesitate to ask a few sales reps what they use. You might be surprised and discover some overlapping tools within the organization. Your technology budget will thank you when you find those 🙂

Internal Communication Tools

Although this doesn’t feel like something that should be in the MOP, I would argue that a full understanding of the ways people communicate is essential to aligning the team (and the company).

I personally like to list the tools used at my company for internal communications. Some of those tools that fall into this section might be:

  • Skype
  • Slack
  • G-chat
  • HipChat

Again, more clarity around what people should be using for specific actions means less friction between the organization.

Lifecycle Management

Be clear, be thorough. Explain each stage of the potential customer’s lifecycle like you were talking to a five year old…. okay maybe not 5, but try to make it really easy to understand. I like the way HubSpot describes their lifecycle stages so I often use their descriptions.

Lead Source Attribution

Every lead comes from somewhere. Use this section to define how you’ll attribute leads to the source they were driven from. Each company will have a different approach to lead source attribution so it’s important to take the time discussing how leads will be counted against their source. You’ll probably want to involve a few stake holders to make sure this is accurately captured. Those involved are often leading Sales and Marketing and a few mid managers from each department.

Opportunity Source Attribution

Although this is more commonly outline in a Salesforce implementation, it’s still valuable to clearly define when an Opportunity should be left at it’s old originating source or changed to a new source.

Marketing Campaign Management & Reporting

I use this section to clearly outline where campaigns will be managed (in more depth than the “demand generations tools” if they overlap). I also cover the following:

  • Naming conventions
  • Conference and Event Lead Management
  • Multivariate Campaign Tracking
    (for later stage companies typically)

Tip: It’s never too late for a good naming convention. If you haven’t established naming conventions for your campaigns yet (or anything for that matter) I strongly recommend doing so.

Internal Document Management

I like to use this section to make it really easy for the organization to understand where to locate files within the Sales and Marketing org. Sometimes this section of the MOP is a more complex digram that explains when documents should and should not be shared with external vendors and customers (and how to do so). While other times this section can just simply outline where to find certain types of files for certain types of activities.

Some directions and links to the folders you might have in this section could be:

  • Dropbox
  • Google Drive
  • Box
  • etc.

I’ve been fortunate to use Google Drive for all of our internal file organization so internal linking between the Google Doc and the Google Drive file / folder has been a breeze.


This is probably one of the most beneficial sections out of the entire Marketing Operations Playbook. I leverage this entire section to place all of our definitions and links to important documents. I’ll even repeat the definitions I had previously placed in other sections like “Lifecycle Management” just to make it easy for anyone to jump in and find what they’re looking for.

In most word documents you’ll be able to have a Table of Contents at the top of the page to link to the elements within the document itself. If you’re using Google Docs it’s as easy as “Insert > Table Of Contents”


Most importantly: Don’t forget to update the MOP!

Over time the MOP should be updated with any changes/updates to the processes and tools your organization is using. These updates are crucial to maintaining one source of truth for all employees to reference.If you have any questions or comments please let me know.

There Is No Autopilot In Marketing Technology

The way I see it

Everywhere you go (on and offline) people talk about the latest and greatest features and functionality in the growing suite of products available to marketers. If you haven’t already seen the landscape of marketing technology tools – a graphic produced by – I highly suggest checking out the latest version (it’s still growing). These new tools are making marketing departments more valuable each year, but something is still missing.

In my opinion there is a huge void in the discussion about marketing technology in general. All too often we are swayed by the salesman on the other end of our demonstrations touting “easy-to-use” or “seamless integration” while we completely ignore our sense of rationale. I hope this post will start a discussion about the work it takes to make these tools actually function.

Rethink Your Automation Investment ROI Model

What drives your decision to purchase marketing software today? Is it an ask from your boss? Perhaps it’s a need to track something better, or deliver something faster. No matter what, I recommend approaching every decision the same way you would approach buying a car.

Despite knowing very little about cars, I really like to compare marketing technology to them. Cars, much like marketing technology, offer a lot of different makes and models and they all basically accomplish the same thing. Each car will get you from point A to point B. Some can do it more efficiently, some can do it faster, and some can cost you a lot of money while others cost a lot less.

In a traditional ROI measurement, you’ll typically look at how much you spent versus how much you made in return. When it comes to marketing technology, I believe you need to think of ROI as more than just “How much the software costs vs. How much I earned.” I believe ROI should be approached from the perspective of “do I have the right people to make this new tool a positive investment?”

Each marketing technology investment should consider costs on two fronts. The first being how much the tool costs and the second is how much the staff to manage the tool costs.

Let’s keep going with this car comparison. The one missing component to this comparison is the status we feel when we drive a nice car versus a “less-nice” car. Unlike purchasing a Ferrari vs a Ford Focus (no offense, I love fuel efficiency and I certainly can’t afford a Ferrari), nobody will look at you differently if you choose one SaaS solution over the other. In fact, most of the time they won’t even know.No matter what product you decide to purchase in the end, be sure you have the right mechanic to keep things in line.

In the car example, a mechanic does more than keep the car running, he or she could even make it run better. You (as the car owner) may generally know how to drive and maintain your vehicle, but typically you don’t know how to make it run better or faster. When I talk with business owners about marketing tools, I feel the same way.

Businesses today are purchasing marketing technology with an expectation that it will magically deliver results.

For instance, business owners may think building a landing page is really simple (because the sales guy did a really good job making it look easy), or tracking multiple touch points just happens after their $10,000+ implementation is over. What about future campaigns? What about the next landing page that needs to be built? Do you have the time to build it?

There is no autopilot in marketing technology. It isn’t a flip-of-a-switch growth engine and it certainly doesn’t do all the stuff it can do…. unless you have the team to do it. To make your investment successful it will take time, dedication, and the right staff.

Questions for you

Do you feel as though you’ve been sold something that hasn’t proven great ROI yet? When you purchased a new marketing technology tool, did you plan on hiring someone to manage the tool or did you hire someone after the fact?

For the skimmers:

If you’re like me and don’t always want to read everything… here is the point I try to make in this post:

There is no autopilot in marketing technology. It is not going to magically work. It isn’t a flip-of-a-switch growth engine. It doesn’t actually do all the stuff it can do….unless you have the team to do it.

Questions to guide your buying process:

When I shop for marketing technology, I always ask questions that are tailored to the business I’m working with. No matter the industry, however, there are some general questions you can ask to get you headed down the right path:

  • What are the must have features?
  • Do you need the extra features?
  • Will (or can) you use the extra features?
  • Do these features make sense for the money I’m about to spend?
  • Do I have the ability to fully utilize this new tool?

That last question —”Do I have the ability to fully utilize this new tool?” — is the most important of them all…

Who’s this for?

I suppose this post is for two groups. The first group are those that have already decided to pursue new marketing technology and they know it’s the right move for their business. They have also decided on two or three solutions to thoroughly evaluate for their needs. For those of you in “buy mode”, this post aims to keep you grounded.

The second group are those working at a company with a role like mine. For you, this post should (hopefully) resonate with some part of you. Perhaps it will serve as the words you have had at the tip of your tongue or in the back of your mind…

A bit of background:

I’m a marketing technology manager. Thanks to the ever changing suite of marketing tools, I get to spend at least a portion of my time learning new ways to empower the marketing and sales team at my company. That’s my job, and I love it. This is why I believe it’s time the marketing technology discussions — the ones happening every day during every demo of every product — need to start talking about the people it takes to make the technology work. I believe the martech leaders have a responsibility to set the right expectations for the products they are selling. The Software as a Service model needs to start focusing more on the Service end of the business.