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Hey, Marketing. Is your team going in the same direction as sales development and sales? Check your swim lanes to get everyone synched for selling.  

What Are Swim Lanes?

Swim lanes are a visual representation of workflows that show who’s responsible for which tasks.

B2B marketing and sales can use swim lanes to map and track their responsibilities — from qualifying marketing leads to closing deals.  

In other words, swim lanes are a way to align your sales and marketing teams

In this post, we’ll discuss swim lanes and how they guide marketing and sales teams toward more wins.

Use Swim lanes to Define Roles and Responsibilities

Marketing, sales development, and sales all have specific roles and responsibilities. However, the lines can blur, leading to a breakdown in the sales pipeline. 

That’s when sales development reps complain that the marketing leads are junk, and marketing complains that sales reps aren’t converting the leads.

To that point, when Ziff Davis of j2 Global surveyed marketing and sales professionals, 27% said they believe their marketing and sales teams still aren’t aligned on when sales should follow up on marketing leads. 

Additionally, the survey found that only 11% of organizations follow-up on marketing qualified leads within 5 minutes. 37% followed up within 24 hours.

That last number is staggering. 

Leads are distracted. Contact them within five minutes, and you stand a chance of getting your foot in the door.

Contact them after twenty-four hours, and you’re competing with a flood of distractions (including competitors vying for their attention). 

Ultimately, the rep that contacts a lead first gets dibs on the prospect’s attention. 

Or, as Henry Schuck, Founder and CEO of ZoomInfo, puts it, “Time kills all deals.”

Keep Your Swim-Lane Map Simple

This is where the workflow magic happens: marketing focuses on lead generation, SDRs qualify leads for sales, and sales converts the leads. 

Here’s a starter swim lane template to ensure everyone knows their responsibility while working for the common goal: revenue growth.

Marketing Swim Lane = One-to-Many

Marketing is in charge of educating your total addressable market (TAM). Therefore, the focus of the messaging is one-to-many. 

For instance, your goal is to educate an entire market on how your product will solve their business problem using a marketing automation system. 

By segmenting and targeting your ideal customers, you’ll send the sales team quality leads they can nurture and close. 

Sales Development Swim Lane = One-to-Few

SDRs are in charge of engaging with prospects that have expressed interest in your brand or shown intent for a similar product or service. The SDR’s focus is one-to-few messaging. 

If the SDRs are using a sales automation platform, they should not use it to send thousands of emails daily.

Instead, they’re connecting with your marketing qualified leads (MQLs) and preparing them to talk to sales.

Sales Professional Swim Lane = One-to-One

The salesperson’s role is straightforward. They do the selling, taking the sales qualified leads (SQLs) over the finish line. Their focus is one-to-one messaging.

However, if a salesperson misses out on a sale, it’s worth evaluating the teams’ existing processes. 

Check out ZoomInfo’s Steve Bryerton’s one-minute take on assessing how things are done to ensure you’re going after high-quality, targeted accounts. 

Reach across Your Swim Lanes

The swim-lanes system defines teams’ roles. By no means are the lanes walled off — quite the opposite.

Interactions between teams — such as collaboration on lead quality and sales processes — are essential for turning prospects into leads and leads into customers.  

About the author

ZoomInfo

ZoomInfo combines the leading business contact database with best-in-class technology to pinpoint, process, and deliver the marketing and sales intelligence you need— exactly when and how you need it, to always hit your number.

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B2B marketing, growth, sales and more.


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