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Lead Generation: Sales, Marketing or Both?
Blog / Entrepreneurs / Feb 26, 2014 / Posted by Nikolaus Kimla / 9051

Lead Generation: Sales, Marketing or Both?

Lead Generation is a Vital Part of Pipeline ManagementIn many companies, a more or less permanent state of opposition exists between Sales and Marketing.

Marketing is doing everything they can in the area of lead generation and forwarding those leads onto the sales force. Sales is picking through the leads and taking the ones that look the most promising, and rejecting many claiming they’re just not worthy. When sales complains about this lack of quality leads, Marketing fires back that Sales just isn’t working them properly. And on it goes.

In previous articles we’ve covered the solution to this issue: Sales and Marketing must come to an agreement on what constitutes a qualified lead, what the various levels of leads actually are (raw, lukewarm or hot) and what should be done with those leads that are not quite ready for Sales to follow up and close.

Today in many companies the lead generation hat has been taken over completely by Marketing, allowing Sales to focus solely on closing. But traditionally lead generation was done by salespeople, and many of them are quite good at it. In this new world should that model be totally abandoned? Or can our proposed alliance between Sales and Marketing allow for salespeople to generate leads as well?

Agreement on Definitions

As noted previously, Sales and Marketing need to agree on the definition of a qualified lead within the company lead generation strategy. Such a definition—which usually means a prospect ready or very nearly ready to purchase, having funding, with a precise need for the product or service—will then open up a dialogue on the lower levels of leads, how they should be defined, who’s responsible for them and what should be done with them.

The lowest level is the raw leads which have just come in the door. Some of those won’t even qualify at all—for example someone who had their card swiped at a trade show just to get the free tote bag. But others will; for example a qualified buyer at a good target prospect company for your products. The CRM lead then needs to be further developed and turned into opportunity, which can be the province of either Marketing (through a drip marketing campaign) or Sales (where they are worked by inside sales reps or sales development reps).

Leads that have had their basic qualifications verified might be (and are in some companies) called Marketing Qualified Leads. In those companies, leads that have been “heated up” are then Sales Qualified Leads.

Once these definitions are agreed upon the door could then be opened for a broader approach to lead generation.

Double Lead Generation

The question for some companies will be: should Sales be totally left out of lead generation? For even if Sales is no longer pounding the pavement looking for prospects, should they simply never take lead generation into account while they’re in the field?

Even if salespeople aren’t actively seeking leads, they will often come across them. For example, while engaging with a prospect that is ready to close, that prospect might tell the sales rep about a buddy at another company that could really use this product. Or, the salesperson might be grabbing a drink at the hotel bar and engage with someone next to them who turns out to be a buyer at what might be a very lucrative target company. And if a sales rep attends a trade show, working trade show events and parties can often be a considerably rich source of leads.

If lead generation and lead management remains part of a salesperson’s job such opportunities will not be passed up, and moreover the sales rep will be actively seeking them.

There is also an age-old sales rep practice of lead generation that has been more or less lost in this age of Marketing’s responsibility for leads–a practice of “prospecting at the close.” Just after each sale closes, while the prospect is at a peak of favorability toward the salesperson and his or her product line, the rep asks a question such as, “What other companies do you know of that could benefit from our products?”

If Sales is involved in lead generation with methods such as these, the term Marketing Qualified Lead might be altered to something such as Basic Qualified Lead, which essentially means the same thing but doesn’t limit the term to leads coming only from Marketing.

In today’s highly competitive business landscape, Sales and Marketing need to be cooperatively working as a team. Make lead generation part of that cooperation—and open up the lead flow from all possible sources.

Get your free trial of Pipeliner CRM now.

About Author

CEO and partner of pipelinersales.com and the uptime ITechnologies, which I founded in 1994 and has since played a significant role in the development of the IT-environment. pipeliner is the most innovative sales CRM management solution on the market. Pipeliner was designed by sales professionals for sales professionals and helps close the gap between the requirements of C-level executives for transparency and the day-to-day operational needs of field and inside sales. I am also the founder and Initiator of the independent economic platform GO-AHEAD!, which orientates itself on the principles of a free marketplace in terms of liberal and social responsibility. Connecting people, the trust of business leadership in terms of values such as freedom, self-responsibility, and entrepreneurial spirit, and strengthening their awareness in order to create a dynamic boost within the economy triggered through spontaneity, all stand for the initial ideas surrounding GO-AHEAD! I studied in Los Angeles and Vienna and received my Masters's Degree in 1994. I am married and have 3 children My Specialties are in: Sales Management, Sales CRM Software, CRM Cloud Solutions, SAAS, Business Strategy, Software Development, "Pipeline Management", Social responsibility, outbound sales, b2b sales, inside sales, sales strategy, lead generation, sales process, entrepreneurship, coaching, mentoring, speaker, opportunity management, lead management, Austrian School of Economics

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