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Marketing vs Sales Who Owns Lead Gen?

How to align sales and marketing, was a hot topic two years ago. Why did we stop talking about it? What was the solution?  So when talking to marketing vs sales, who owns lead gen?

First, there was account-based marketing, then account-based sales, then sales vs marketing, then who owns SDRs, then how to peacefully align everyone so we are all in harmony.  

Ugh, puke!  

Yes, of course, the two need to be aligned…EVERYTHING IN A COMPANY NEEDS TO BE ALIGNED! 

Enter Ed Porter and Blue Chip CRO. When silos happen, I make money. When companies grow, they start creating their own silos because leaders allow it to happen. People work with their internal teams and not cross-functionally. It’s natural, it happens, so embrace it. But, don’t relish in it.  

Silos are bad. Silos happen frequently within sales and marketing, and it creates this disjointed relationship that either puts the customer in the middle or puts leadership egos in the middle. Neither works well. 

Ok, enough back story on the problem. We’re here to talk about lead generation. Who owns it? Sales or marketing? Marketing qualified leads (MQLs) have always been the rage. But can technology qualify a lead? How?  

Seems odd to me, but hey, let’s agree that a series of digital actions can justify buying intent. Technology and automation (enter Marketo, Pardot, Hubspot, Eloqua, etc) can qualify marketing leads to a point where it hands off a lead to a sales rep. Got it. So, is lead generation just a series of predefined clicks to assess the buying signals? Seems too simple, doesn’t it? 

But what about these sales/lead/account/marketing/business development reps? 

**Which people are now referring to them as XDRs since in sales we can’t figure out a singular title for a position to save our lives** 

Seems like these XDRs are contacting leads – be it from all different statuses like cold, warm, engaged, inbound, outbound, etc – and trying to book meetings for sales reps to close. Handoff, right? Looks eerily similar to an MQL with similar guidelines for a handoff.  

So, I ask, how is the XDR handoff any different than an MQL? Technology vs humans. Each step involving a defined process with entry and exit criteria or should be defined with entry and exit criteria. If the goal of marketing is to qualify a lead to a certain point, and the goal of an XDR is to qualify a lead to a certain point, aren’t they really the same activities, just executed differently? 

The point I’m trying to make is that there are inherent differences between sales and marketing. Marketing is to turn a buyer from “who they heck are you” to “I know who you are and I’m interested in learning more.” Sales is to turn a buyer from “I’m interested in learning more” to “I’m giving you money.”  

Trish Bertuzzi author of The Sales Development Playbook hits on The 5 Why’s of Sales Development, also shown in this blog post.  

I follow this to a T and will almost blindly follow Trish wherever she goes. Her and her team are phenomenal advisors and leaders in this space. To put this into perspective, this outlines the stages of a sales process. So, what does this have to do with marketing and lead generation? 

Glad you asked! 

I apply the 5 Whys to the buying process, not just siloed within the sales process and stages. I take this same approach to marketing and start detailing each of these steps and align them to who is responsible for moving a buyer from one to the other. I say responsible, but it doesn’t mean they have the leash tied to the buyer and walk the buyer through the stages. Buyers buy differently, but many follow a similar approach as Trish outlines. 

So, marketing… 

  • How do we get buyers to listen? Content and distribution of content  
  • How do we get them to care? Messaging and relatable persona-to-pain attribution.  
  • How do we get them to change? Paint a picture of what the future looks like 
  • How do we get them to choose us? Outlets for engagement, case studies/testimonials/customer experiences 
  • How do we get them to do this now? Portray consequences of not changing (Trish also talks about PACT in understanding qualification with C being Consequence). 

Marketing can’t be responsible for each of these “why’s”, but they certainly help. When we look at XDRs, which of these 5 Why’s can XDRs own? Aren’t they trying to engage prospects and help move them through the first one, two, or even three of these “why’s” (depending on how you structure and define the XDR role)?  

To my original question of who should own lead generation…. marketing, right? I believe so! I also believe XDRs are a large part of lead generation and can see a world where marketing owns the XDR team, depending on how the team is defined and structured. Want to remove silos? Allow marketing to own XDRs as a starter.  

Another great tip…marketing owns the content, which it derives from customer success (case studies, testimonials, problems being solved, customer business improvements, etc.), and then delivers and trains its sales counterpart.  

There’s a concept…working with other parts of the revenue organization to keep the buyer top of mind AND transferring information across all three functional areas! 

But let me hear it from you… marketing vs sales, who owns lead gen? 

Ed Porter | Fractional Chief Revenue Officer