3 Reasons Why Sales and Marketing Don't Agree on "Lead Generation"

by Melissa Madian on Monday, April 23, 2012 in Sales & Marketing Alignment

You know how it is. Marketing says "tomato", and sales says, "Give me more leads."

When it comes to lead generation, these two organizations often view the same topic from entirely different perspectives. Like some sort of twisted Pavlovian experiment with leads, we've conditioned them to sit at different ends of the demand generation funnel, looking at it through different lenses and taking action in different ways to achieve the same goal.

Having served on both sides, I have a unique understanding of what goes on inside the head of a marketer and inside the head of a sales rep (*shudder!*) when you say the words, "lead generation." Here is my perspective of the key differences between these two organizations:

1. Metrics
Sales is measured on hitting a revenue target. Marketing is measured on *fill in the blank*. And therein lies the disconnect.

If you want two organizations to achieve the same goal, why wouldn't you have them measured in a complimentary way? If sales' ability to hit their target depends on the quality and quantity of opportunities generated, then why not have marketing measured on their ability to generate qualified leads? Or on conversion metrics at that critical stage in the funnel? Seems crazy, but having complimentary metrics is a big step in having one unified view into lead generation.

2. Motivation and Accountability
This ties somewhat into difference #1. If I'm measured a certain way, I'm motivated to reach that goal. In sales, my ability to hit my target means I make lots of money and go to President's Club; conversely, my inability to hit my target means no commission, no money and I end up living in a van down by the river.

Sales' lead generation motivations are crystal clear; so what motivates marketing? Ask any of your marketing buddies how they are motivated and I'd bet you'd get a variety of different answers. A clear motivation for both teams is another step towards getting sales and marketing to agree on lead generation.

3. Definitions
The definition of a "lead" is probably the biggest difference between sales and marketing.

Think about it: if I'm accountable for hitting a number, and I don't have guidelines around how to hit it, I'm going to call everyone and anything to hit that number. Statistically, that means I need a lot of people to call or I need a smaller number of strategically targeted people, so the chances of me converting them are a lot higher. If sales and marketing can come together and agree on define what a lead is, and have a create for a service level agreement for when and how a lead is accepted or rejected by sales, and regularly tweak the definition based on the data coming in, you'll be on your way to unified lead generation process.

Lead generation is too important to your business to allow marketing and sales have wildly different opinions. Allowing sales and marketing to be measured on, held accountable to, and understand the definition of the common goal will go a long way in unifying their perspective. What have you done to unify?

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