Is Lead Generation Slipping Away From Marketing?

Posted by James Obermayer on Apr 17, 2012 10:27:00 AM

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James Obermayer, Executive Director and CEO of the Sales Lead Management Association and President of Sales Leakage Consulting is a regular guest blogger with ViewPoint.

Throwing Money AwayI know what you’re thinking, you’re saying to yourself, “Is he serious?” But in a recent post on the Sales Lead Management Group on LinkedIn, Kevin McArdle, the regional sales manager for Eloqua (Chicago), advocated that sales departments should take over lead gen and he makes the following points:

      • Sales departments are responsible for revenue.

      • Marketing’s plate is full.

      • Sales and marketing operate on different frequencies.

I responded in saying it is a leadership issue and having sales control the lead generation task without hiring someone to do it (which just drives up sales expense) is not the answer. Timothy Wise a VP at Ring2Media jumped in to say that as a lead generation company he has more issues in dealing with sales management than with marketing (the experience issue). Tony Tissot of eTrigue remarked that lead generation is the responsibility of marketing, but getting the outcomes agreed upon should be the goal. And then Mari Anne Vanella of the Vanella Group (recently named one of the 20 Women to Watch in Sales Lead Management in 2012 by the SLMA) said, marketing teams are managed by results and it is difficult for sales to manage lead gen because:

  1. Lead generation is not a transaction.
  2. There is an admin component to lead generation and sales is designed to close leads not manage nurturing (by electronic means).
  3. Sales isn’t into sharing data.

I started my career in marketing medical devices, but I have since spent most of it in sales. It is attractive to give the lead generation chore to the people responsible for quotas to tie an action with a result. I believe, however, that with few exceptions sales management does not have the time, talent, or skill to generate qualified leads. The first thing a sales manager should do if given the task is to hire a marketing professional. Today’s lead generation is not my father’s lead generation. There are too many moving parts to think it can be simplified. It takes constant training and learning to stay even with the new lead generation opportunities.

I can’t help but return to my comment to Kevin McArdle that this is a leadership issue. If a company wants to spend money that is unaccountable, just divvy up the marketing budget between regional sales managers. To solve the issue, get marketing and sales into the same room with the same goals held to the same standards of performance and the issue will be solved.

Now, back to the question in the title: In some instances there are field marketing managers making decisions on lead generation on a tactical level, and rightly so I believe. But over-all I don’t think lead generation will move under sales management which still has a difficult time reporting on the closure of 75-90% of the inquiries and leads they are now given.

If sales can’t manage what they are given and report back on it, what makes us think that giving them the whole responsibility of lead generation and reporting will be any better?

As a further look at where marketing has progressed and why sales won’t take over lead generation anytime soon, look at a sample of the titles of the latest articles in the April 9th BtoB Magazine:

Marketers embrace digital content testing Kate Maddox
Digital Edge Maddox and Hosford
Tech enables. Complicates content marketing goals Sean Callahan
DuPont VP works on revamping brand identity Sean Callahan
Thriving in the age of complexity John Obrecht
B2B interactive Marketing Guide  
Baking in analytics from the get-go is a winning strategy    Joe Hendershot
Changing the legacy channel Christopher Hosford
Exploiting digital editions Sean Callahan
Marketing gets personal Kate Maddox

I think you get the picture, B2B lead generation isn’t your father’s lead generation, or your sales manager’s for that matter.


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Topics: Lead Generation, B2B Marketing, B2B Sales

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