Occasionally we get asked by a new client implementing our sales management system, “So we’ve got our lead generation team set up and ready to go, but who should they be reporting to? The marketing people think it’s them, but the sales managers think they’ll get more out of it if they’re in charge. So who’s right?”
In our experience, the answer’s pretty simple: Sales is in charge of lead generation, not marketing.
I realize this is heresy in some marketing circles, but in B2B sales, it’s the truth.
There’s two primary reasons for this:
1. Marketing is passive and lead generation is proactive.
My boss Ken Krogue tells a funny story about this from a few years ago when they attended the Omniture Summit conference in 2008. They were in a group forum discussion, and the marketing people kept raising their hands and asking, “Aren’t you sales types being too pushy with your leads?”
The short answer is no. Branding, lead nurturing, media ad buying, and passive conversion from existing channels involve much different processes and mind sets than outbound lead generation. Lead gen is about active pursuit of new opportunities. The mind set of tip-toeing around prospects is counter-productive to lead gen teams.
Bottom line: sales gets it in this instance, marketing doesn’t.
2. Lead generation metrics are more appropriately tied to the sales process.
Almost all of the work done by lead generation teams plays into a sales, rather than a marketing mind set. Calls. Collateral. Appointment setting. Demonstrations.
Other than lead source and campaign ROI, none of the metrics of lead generation make any sense within a marketing-oriented process.
Marketing and sales should be aligned, targeting the same core markets, and working in harmony to deliver the right message to the right prospects—but bottom line, B2B lead gen should be the sales team’s baby.
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