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Who Owns Leads? Sales or Marketing

It’s time we challenge conventional thinking with regard to who owns the lead generation process. In the last several years, a lot has been written about how Sales and Marketing need to come together if we ever expect to resolve the issue of generating leads.

In keeping with my habit of challenging the norm, let me say right here the Sales Department needs to own the lead generation process. We can’t have Marketing handling this role. Now before you go ballistic on me, let me explain.

The role of Marketing has never been more important. The more cluttered the marketplace becomes with information and messages, the more crucial it is for Marketing to effectively share relevant information.

My argument is that for Marketing to do an effective job of breaking through the noise, they need to be focused 100% on messaging and not be distracted with lead generation.   Recently when I was having lunch with a Sales VP, the issue of Marketing developing leads came up without my prompting.

The Sales VP felt there was little chance Marketing would ever be successful generating leads due to the complex industry she is in. Her counterpart in Marketing does a great job of creating copy, positioning the company right and doing everything we would want a Marketing team to do. With generating leads, however, the best Marketing was ever able to do is get names and emails from people responding to receive an eBook or visiting a trade show booth.

The problem is that leads like this simply never go anywhere, because the people responding are not decision makers. The Sales VP was asking me for my support to convince her management to not have Marketing chase leads.

This view of having Sales own the lead generation process is not designed to minimize the role Marketing plays. It’s just an understanding of getting everyone to play better together. We have to stop the endless arguing that goes on between Sales and Marketing over the quality of leads.

You know the argument: Sales says the reason they couldn’t make the quarterly number is because Marketing gave them poor leads. And Marketing blames Sales for not doing more with the leads Marketing provided.

What we have is an easy excuse to blame someone else for your own problem.

To end the blame and to increase ownership, it’s time we give the lead generation process to Sales and hold them accountable. When Sales is accountable, it’s amazing how suddenly salespeople will become aware of the need to prospect and not just sit and wait for Marketing. When Sales is responsible for leads, they are more effective in owning the lead qualification process and in following up effectively with every lead, not just some leads.

Moving the role of lead generation to Sales and away from Marketing is not an excuse for the two departments to not work together. I say it’s just the opposite. For instance, a new software is about to be released to a key industry – it’s Marketing’s job to educate, build awareness and ultimately create demand. When Marketing does this well, Sales is positioned to develop leads and ultimately turn them into customers.

Before you say, “How does Sales know who to target and who the decision maker is?” let’s not forget about the wealth of information available via social media and other Internet sources and tools.

The ability for a salesperson to create a one-to-one relationship has never been greater. It boils down to one simple concept – Marketing creates the mass messages, and Sales creates the one-to-one dialogue that lead to one-to-one relationships.

We have to assume the noise in the marketplace is only going to increase each year, which means we have to make sure Marketing is focused 100% on what they do best. Alllow Marketing to be devoted to building awareness, positioning the brand and educating the marketplace. Those three tasks alone are monumental. Allow Sales to own the process of developing leads, because in the end, Sales will be held accountable for making or missing the quarterly numbers.

Mark Hunter is the author of High-Profit Prospecting: Powerful Strategies to Find the Best Leads and Drive Breakthrough Sales Results.

Mark Hunter, your next keynote speaker: 

Mark Hunter, CSP, “The Sales Hunter” is recognized globally as one of the top sales speakers, known for his challenging insights, high-energy, and passion to create change that he delivers each time he speaks, whether it be a sales kick-off meeting, corporate function or association event. Mark Hunter is the author of the best selling book, High-Profit Prospecting. Here’s what others are saying:

Mark presented “Accelerate Your Sales Prospecting” at the February 2015 Institute for Excellence in Sales program in Northern Virginia. He nailed it and gave the 150 selling professionals and business owners in attendance amazing tips, strategies and tactics they could implement that day. The sales leaders at our program universally acknowledged Mark as one of the top speakers we’ve ever had.

  • Fred Diamond, Executive Director, IES Washington DC

At our annual company sales meeting we’ ve never seen a speaker work so hard, with advance preparation, with such genuine style of delivery, and with such hunger for results. If you weren’t on the edge of your seat….you were in a coma. Period! 

  • Mark Allen, Regional Manager, Marlin Companies

Mark’s strategies are innovative, easy to follow and easy to use in the “real world.” He customized his strategies to directly speak to the issues and challenges facing our unique business, and he helped us encompass specific selling examples. This training was very applicable to our sales staff, both at a senior and junior level, as it reinforced important sales techniques.”

  • Danielle Pakradooni, Blue Man Group

High Profit Prospecting
Copyright 2017, Mark Hunter “The Sales Hunter.” Sales Motivation Blog. Mark Hunter is the author of High-Profit Prospecting: Powerful Strategies to Find the Best Leads and Drive Breakthrough Sales Results.

 

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3 thoughts on “Who Owns Leads? Sales or Marketing”

  1. I agree. Marketing job is to promote and keep the brand messaging consistent across all channels. While I was a Marketing Manager for a software company I did forward leads to the sales team for follow-up. I was never so possessive that I think I owned them.

    Still I also figured it was not my role, at that time, to qualify the leads. I left that for the sales team to handle.

    When it came to Trade Shows, which was the foundation of our marketing program at that time, our sales team was on the floor doing an excellent job of asking qualifying questions…those that did not have a single word answer. If they had a person from a prospect company, but not the right person to talk with, they found out who that person was to follow-up with either at the show or after.

    Marketing’s job is to Arouse Interest, Create Desire, and Motivate Action. Leave the Selling to the Sales team.

  2. I couldn’t agree more. At the end of the day, everyone is responsible for their own KPIs. If sales is complaining about leads, they need to own lead generation. If marketing is complaining about closing rates, they need to own and understand what’s causing the fallout and update messaging, process, etc. to address it.

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