Monday, March 26, 2012

Sales Or Marketing, Which Is The Best Home For Lead Generation?

It's a fool's journey for LeadGen thought leaders to make blanket statements about marketing being the best home for lead generation. This one-size-fits-all approach can lead to a poor decision for your company.

The general rule of thumb is that when all things are equal --- marketing is the best home for Lead Generation.  The problem is that all things aren't always equal.  Lead Management can be successful in either area.  Read on to discover what is best for your company.

Simplify the Decision by Breaking down the Problem

First, let's bring clarity to the question by breaking down the decision at hand.  Lead Generation consists of two functions:

  • Demand Generation – Content marketing and lead sourcing early in the buying process to generate inquiries into the very top of the funnel
  • Lead Management – The process to manage inquiries at the early stage of the buying process to transform cold inquiries into warm sales-ready leads

Clearly Demand Generation fits in marketing.  The question at hand is whether Lead Management is best to be part of the marketing or sales organization.   Which option gives you the best opportunity to drive the alignment of Sales & Marketing that is required for success?

Weighing the Best Fit for Lead Management

Lead Management includes lead grading, scoring, automated nurturing and 1:1 nurturing through Lead Development Representatives.  There are pros and cons to sales vs. marketing as a home for Lead Management:

Sales and Marketing Lead Generation resized 600


  • Benefits:
    • Reduced Temptation: Sales leaders can be tempted to prematurely accelerate raw leads into the sales force during a tough quarter.  This short-term action can find quick hits, but bleeds the top of the funnel dry and negatively impacts future quarters.  Marketing is an ideal steward of lead progression.   
    • Pace of evolution: Excellence in Lead Management is all about adjusting to changes and opportunities that are observed by Lead Development Reps (LDR's) of prospects in the buying process. LDR's within marketing have greater ability to request and receive quality content.
    • Greater Alignment with Buying Process: Marketers naturally operate from the buying process from birth. This is innate for marketing --- no transformation is required.
    • Greater focus on Demand Gen Conversions & Early Stage Conversions: Marketing will be fully engaged with optimizing the early conversions in the funnel. If this is a 'check the box' deliverable to sales then it will be completed, but not optimized.
  • Cons:
    • Slower Collaboration with Sales: Requires effort to drive LDR collaboration with counterparts in sales.
    • New Capability Acquisition - Marketing leaders don't have experience in launching or managing inside call teams. A manager or director with inside or telesales management experience must be hired to lead the team.


  • Benefits:
    • Increased Collaboration: There is natural collaboration between sales LDRs with field sales counterparts
    • Greater Sales Force Adoption: The field will more readily embrace changes to the lead management process.
    • Call Center Expertise: Sales has deep knowledge and tenured managers with experience operating Inside Sales teams.  This experience translates nicely to the training, coaching, and leadership of lead development teams.
  • Cons:
    • Slower Pace of Evolution: Sales leaders with an Inside Sales mindset can have a hard time transforming. What has made them successful in inside sales is counter-intuitive to lead management. ISR-minded leadership tends to resist the new methods until it can be proven to them. The result is incremental shifts with a large influence of sales 1.0 method squeezed into the new LDR role.
    • Lack Quality Marketing Content and Offers: Lead Management within sales often lacks quality tools and offers to work with to build interest with early stage leads. Marketing will 'check the box' like they do with sales materials vs. a continuous improvement effort with LDR's that are on their own team.
    • Potential for Corrupted Learning's: Inside Sales minded leaders may figure out how to produce results with sales 1.0 method by using discipline and sheer numbers --- this success can be strong enough to prevent optimization and adoption of sales 2.0 tactics.

Other factors to consider:

  • Historical success of department leadership
  • Capacity for department leadership to enable additional change
  • Collaboration mindsets
  • Call center logistics (location cost of living, existing equipment and office space, etc.)
  • LDR call center proximity to sales/marketing leadership
  • Current staff readiness within sales and marketing

Successful Decision Making 

The LDR role can be successful from sales or marketing.  Weigh the options carefully and make an informed decision.  There isn't a perfect decision --- instead look for the best decision that provides you with the most advantages based on the dynamics of your organization.  

Thanks to Vince Koehler / Sales Benchmark Index[Sales%20or%20Marketing%2C%20]


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