5 Practical Strategies to Connect Your CRM and MAP

Your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Marketing Automation Platform (MAP) are invaluable tools for any organization – but they don’t always play nice. 

Hi, my name is Timea Kachnic and I’m a Marketing Operations Manager at National Instruments (NI), the leader in test and automated measurement systems. Recently, I joined Traction Complete on a webinar with the MO Pros community to share strategies I’ve used when tackling the gaps between your CRM and MAP.

Whether it’s caused by disparate data or the two systems not working hand in hand, it’s important to keep both systems working together. Having that connection will make sure that you can better prioritize inbound leads, control duplicates, and keep your go-to-market strategies up to date.

Here are some of the most common gaps or needs when it comes to working between your MAP and CRM – are there any that you can relate to?  

  • You need to trust that you have accurate, up-to-date data on an inbound lead.
  • You need to control duplicates but enable teams across multiple systems. 
  • You need more complex routing capabilities. 
  • You need to effectively prioritize inbound leads for the sales team. 
  • You need to make sales more accountable and make sure they follow up quickly on new leads. 
  • You need to route based on changes in the customer journey. 
  • You need to innovate at speed but don’t have full access to our CRM. 

If any of these needs sound familiar, worry not – there is a solution. Here are five practical strategies to make your MAP and CRM work hand in hand. 

Strategy #1: Focus on data capture and quality to ensure that inbound leads are accurate and up-to-date.

The data in your CRM drives important decisions in any business. But first, you need to trust that you have accurate and up-to-date information on an inbound lead. 

When layering on data from marketing automation, challenges like sync errors between platforms can slow down or stop the flow of data. What’s important for each platform can differ, so how do you ensure that your data is accurate between systems? 

Everything starts with data capture. For one, the information that you ask for at your gate or form defines how your information looks beyond that point. 

Set best practices or data capture standards such as:

  • Reinforce using a business email over a personal email. 
  • Once you’ve captured your data, connect the prospect through matching to an account in your CRM.
  • At NI, we never override what the customer tells us. Lead with that, then supplement with third-party tools to enrich. 

Capturing different types of data over others can be more important for different teams within your company. So when you’re looking at what data to capture, determine what your must-haves are and what you need to make sure you’re syncing correctly between the two. 

What to capture at NI really comes down to where they are in the funnel. But at a minimum, you should be trying to capture email address, company, customer name, and country. That way, you can discover their account tier and use that information for targeting and segmentation. 

At NI, demand routing is based on account site, so address is also an important piece of information for us. But that information can be challenging to get, so you really have to do a good job of matching to get that information. We find phone numbers, especially for APAC regions really valuable. 

Strategy #2: Use matching to control duplicates while enabling teams across multiple systems

Once you’ve aligned on the data that you need, the next challenge is maintaining clean data across multiple systems. With multiple platforms, a common struggle is data that enters in different ways, such as sales reps entering data manually or data that comes from third-party systems. 

When it comes to creating an optimal customer experience, it’s important to limit duplicate records, and that includes being proactive in managing your data quality upfront. 

And as we’re passing data on to our CRM, we really try to go above and beyond for matching to make sure that our data is clean. Our primary method of matching is using an email address and then following up with different levels of matching. 

We start by trying to find a match to an SFDC contact (contact and account match), then account match through email, and we also do Traction Complete matching, which is supplemental to our existing matching criteria (through fuzzy matching) This gives us a much higher match rate. As an example, we’re able to match 60% of our contacts one-to-one through standard matching rules in Salesforce. But with Traction Complete, we were able to get a 94% match rate for our US customer base in 2022.

Here’s how NI defines a lead and what they match to:

  • For NI, a lead is a net new contact
  • Matching starts with an email address that belongs to either a lead or a contact (an existing person in the CRM)
  • Contacts and leads are elevated based on their engagement
  • NI uses custom Salesforce object called a Sales Demand Record to track interaction and elevate records to Sales 
  • Sales Demand Records help reduce duplicates by ensuring that leads and contacts always remain people, while still creating a clear view of the customer’s journey for sales. 

Strategy #3: Build your lead routing around your go-to-market strategy

Once your data is matched and maintained, you need to align it to your go-to-market strategy and make sure that what you’re putting to work between your two systems ends up working effectively for your business. 

And whether you’re an SMB or enterprise business, you’re typically routing from your MAP to your CRM by using Pardot, automation rules, basic Salesforce routing, or custom code. But as your business grows, it can be tricky or limiting to manage routing over time. So how do you ensure that data, leads, and your demand objects go to the right place? 

For NI, we initially started by working with three global qualification teams, which was a much easier geographic coverage-based solution. But once we started shifting from direct coverage to more of a hybrid coverage, our routing started to become complex really quickly. 

We eventually reached a point where we needed a more robust routing solution. We not only had to route to our direct channel, which became more of an ABM type motion. We also had channel-related needs, where the routing capabilities and needs were significantly different. NI’s channel partners had different types of capabilities, demands, and suppliers. So the type of routing and demand that they wanted to receive from us was also different. We needed to be able to segment them separately by geography, campaign, and offering– so it became really complex – hence the need for the sales demand custom object.

How do you manage which leads go to your partner channel and which go to your sales team? 

We still operate mainly based on coverage. We define territories and coverage on a higher level. But it’s important to add that when there’s a more complicated product or solution that’s better sold through a direct channel or related to a specific partner capability, we’ll try and route based on that.

Recently we’ve been trying a couple of different routing methods like campaign-based routing, demand source-based routing, and product interest-based routing. Basically, any attribute that exists in Salesforce that we can capture, we’re trying out as pilots.

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As we try to do major changes like migrating our campaign hierarchy or changing our coverage, in a planned fashion, it helps create more bandwidth to do smaller changes and test things on the go, on a quarterly or even a monthly basis. 

How do you share recommended GTM updates with stakeholders? 

What we found really insightful at NI was walking through a customer journey and looking at what the customer experience looks like. The individual steps, which marketing pieces that they interact with, and the overall handoff process. 

It was really insightful to our stakeholders, especially to see how these steps evolved over time. It’s easy to think that you have an understanding but once you really look at the customer journey step by step, the pages, the form fills, it becomes real. And by doing this, it’s easier to get stakeholders on board for certain changes. 

Strategy #4: Use scoring and grading to effectively prioritize inbound leads

When you’re looking at routing, not all leads or actions are equal. In the buyer journey, some people are ready and some aren’t. One thing that can be tricky is a two-way sync between systems, which can be a blessing or a curse because everything enters on the same equal footing. Depending on the size of your business and your sales team’s capacity, you may need to manage what gets sent between the two – which leads get routed to sales and which get nurtured. 

NI uses a demand prioritization and scoring system as our main mechanism to prioritize demand. We do that by using a two-way system. The first is built around customer expectations – we made it really simple and created a front end with different temperatures.

Somebody who’s hot is a prospect that’s actively waiting for a response. So the rep needs to contact the person immediately and we have a set SLA of 48 hours. We try to make it simple in the sense that if it’s a hot lead, don’t think too much about it and just call the customer. 

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Warm is when a prospect is indicating interest in our solutions and is actually where most of our marketing efforts fall. If it’s Warm, do your due diligence, review the contact, the account, their engagement, and build your outreach. 

We also supplement temperatures with a demand score, which indicates customer fit and engagement. 

Demand Score– Indicates degree of fit/engagement:


As we work and qualify leads that we believe are sales-ready, every demand record or lead that a sales rep closes, they give us a close reason as a feedback on quality. If a prospect is closed out due to eg.  invalid customer data, we know that customer data won’t be fixed within a certain period, so we don’t want to elevate that person again. What we do is basically called a blackout rule – we’re blocking them out for a period of time from becoming a sales lead again until we can enrich and nurture that person to the point that we believe they’re sales-ready again. 

Strategy #5: Create SLAs and alerts to keep sales accountable

Scoring and grading leads is one thing, but how do you keep your sales team accountable and ensure that they follow up in a timely manner? 

At NI, we set very clear expectations with hot, warm, and cold leads; we try to keep it simple with SLAs and how to follow up. We also find that it’s much easier if the sellers get leads as part of their regular workflow – so it’s always easier when they get a volume of leads, not just a few.

But when somebody does receive just a few, we tend to send more notifications to encourage action.

Now with both our direct and non-direct sales channels, we elevate demand through list views. Within these list views, we’re trying to make it crystal clear – how long has a lead been open? And we’re organizing it in a way that you have hot first, warm second.  

On top of that, we follow a process of having bi-weekly discussions with bi-directional feedback with our sales teams.  

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With this regular cadence, we review our performance together, and we also have common targets with our sales teams. We’re focused on trying to maximize the outcomes of this process and we regularly meet to review dashboards and the demand generation plans versus capacity. This handshake allows us to tackle challenges when let’s say, there aren’t enough sellers to work the expected demand and we can adjust a little bit. This all really helps us increase our opportunity outcomes and our ROI. 

Watch the webinar to get access to more strategies! 

Want to learn more about bridging the gap between your MAP and your CRM? You can watch the on-demand webinar with Timea Kachnic, Marketing Operations Manager at National Instruments, and Bec Henrich, VP of Marketing at Traction Complete, and get the full breakdown here

About The Author — Timea Kachnic
Timea Kachnic

National Instruments Marketing Operations Manager, EMEIA

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