Should Business Development Report to Marketing? [Part 1 of 4]

How to Build a World-Class Sales Development Team

Free eBook: How to Build a World-Class Sales Development Team

Discover how to recruit, hire, compensate and coach a sales development team that will increase lead conversion rates and lower total sales costs.

One of the questions I’m frequently asked is, “Where does the business development team fit in my organization?”Screen Shot 2015-04-28 at 11.53.52 AM

It often seems that the business development function — what some might call sales development representative (SDR), teleprospecting representative (TPR), lead development representative (LDR) or simply appointment setter — is the third wheel in almost every organization. 

It’s a function crucial to the sales process, but it is also a function that doesn’t seem to really belong anywhere.

Should business development report to sales? To marketing? Should it stand alone?

I’ll explore the answers more deeply in this three-part series examining the pros and cons for each organizational decision.

To begin, let’s dive into marketing. It should be a lot of fun.

Marketing’s expanding role

Today’s top marketers have greater emphasis on generating qualified leads than in past demand-gen days.

This expansion in marketing’s role supports reasoning behind the 24 percent of business development reps who report directly to marketing, according to data from The Bridge Group.

If your business development team reports into your marketing department, they will most likely be housed under the head of demand generation and will hand off qualified leads to the sales team.



If you’re generating a lot of inbound traffic, the marketing leader can better enforce quick rep response times.

For more than 10 years, XANT has perfected revolutionary lead response research that consistently shows leads called within 5 minutes of requesting information online are over 10x more likely to answer and 4x more likely to qualify.

Power dialers enhanced with immediate response capabilities, paired with the close observation of the marketing leader, can ensure fast response time and follow-up activity so that marketing spend is not wasted.

Marketing campaign language is most effectively utilized

Inbound teams understand and utilize the lead generation campaign language.

Too often an inbound prospect that connects with a rep will ask a specific question concerning the ebook or the research paper they requested and the rep has no context for the conversation.

Nothing destroys credibility faster than perceived, ad hoc ignorance.

When the business development team reports directly to marketing, they are less likely to treat every lead the same — a term we call “bucket calling” — and more likely to utilize the language of specific marketing campaigns, which leads to higher-quality, initial conversations.


Outbound lead generation can be deprioritized

Marketing teams are often compensated on the number of inbound inquiries; so outbound prospecting plays a smaller role in these departments.

Inbound lead generation and outbound lead generation require different skill sets. When the emphasis is placed on marketing and inbound response, crucial sales skills of qualifying and prospecting are often lacking.

Marketing doesn’t support a career path for business development

The natural career path for a business development rep is to progress inside the sales organization.

It is not in marketing.

This presents a problem. When business development reps become proficient, they are often “stolen” from marketing to move to sales, which often widens the relationship gap between marketing and sales.

Handing off leads

Anytime leads are handed off between two departments, there is room for trouble.

When the business development team is housed in the marketing department, there is a departmental hand-off to the sales team.

This creates opportunity for the old rivalry between sales and marketing to rear its ugly head with business development caught in the middle.

Turning away from traditional marketing automation systems that score leads with a human bias to true machine-learning and predictive algorithms that rank leads on their likelihood to close and likelihood to contact can bring better alignment to these departments and minimize hand-off problems.

The common goal

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Companies are seeing greater alignment across all functions of their organizations.

In old paradigms, the role of a marketer was simply to generate leads; qualifying and closing on those leads was sales’ problem.

As teams become more specialized, however, new paradigms driven by more common goals are formed.

In a forward-thinking marketing team, contributors are more closely monitoring lead quality, helping reps qualify their leads, and doing everything they can to maximize the ROI on their efforts — so it can, and does, make sense for a business development team to report up through marketing, especially if you handle mostly or all inbound response.

Further, if the marketing leader has the desire to lead the business development team, he or she should. Sometimes nobody wants to lead this team, so if you have a qualified, data-driven marketer who raises their hand, it might not be a bad idea to call on them.

A word about reporting to sales

Of course, there is an equally compelling case for business development to report up to the VP of sales. We’ll discuss the pros and cons of this approach in Part II of this series.

The series in its entirety can be viewed here:

Should Business Development Report to Sales? [Part 2 of 4]

Should Your Business Development Team Stand Alone? [Part 3 of 4]

Where Business Development Belongs in Your Organization? [Part 4 of 4]

How to Build a World-Class Sales Development Team

Free eBook: How to Build a World-Class Sales Development Team

Discover how to recruit, hire, compensate and coach a sales development team that will increase lead conversion rates and lower total sales costs.

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