Is Sales or Marketing Responsible for Lead Generation?

By Kevin Kerrigan

Is Sales or Marketing Responsible for Lead Generation

As a sales leader, you know how critical it is for your business to generate leads in order to drive growth. But when you’re met with a lack of leads and dwindling sales, it’s hard to determine where to turn. Is it a sales problem or a marketing problem? Let’s explore the roles of sales and marketing when it comes to lead generation, and how to work together to drive growth and success.

What does the sales funnel look like?

Sales and marketing teams are often responsible for different aspects of the lead generation process.

Sales team responsibilities:

  • Outbound contact
  • Cold-calling
  • Trade shows
  • In-person relationship building

Marketing team responsibilities: 

  • Inbound acquisition
  • Content creations
  • Digital advertising campaigns
  • Website maintenance and optimization


Both teams are key in creating an organization that achieves sales quotas, and it helps to first look at the stages of the sales process and how a lead moves through them:

1. Prospects:
Potential customers, often identified by the sales team, who haven’t interacted with your organization. They fit your ideal customer profile.

Next Steps – Make contact to set up an introductory meeting. Get them to take action that indicates they are interested in learning more about what you have to offer.

Tactics – In-person meetings, sales slicks, case studies and ebooks. Whatever you provide, make sure it is something that will capture their attention and encourage them to take the next step in the buying process.

2. Leads:
Potential customers who have taken an action to learn more about your company’s products or services.

Next Steps – Qualify the lead (see below) to make sure they fit your ideal customer profile. Follow-up activity depends on where they are in the sales funnel.

Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL):
A marketing-qualified lead is a prospect that has been identified and vetted by the marketing team as being a good fit for the company’s products or services. It should align with your ICP. 

In order to be considered an MQL, the prospect must have engaged with the company in a meaningful way, such as filling out a form on the website or attending a webinar. Once a prospect becomes an MQL, it is then handed off to the sales team to nurture them into paying customers.

Sales Qualified Leads (SQL):
Sales-qualified leads are hot leads that have been vetted by the sales team and are determined to be ready to buy. These leads have been through the top-of-the-funnel marketing activities and are now ready to be contacted by a salesperson. 

The criteria for a sales-qualified lead can vary depending on the product or service being sold but typically include factors such as budget, authority, need, and timeline. Once a lead has been identified as sales qualified, the sales team should begin the process of closing the deal.

3. Opportunity:
By the Bottom of the Funnel (BOF), we are left with high-quality leads who now have a tangible relationship with the business and are potentially close to becoming customers.

Why is there a conflict between sales and marketing?

Sales and marketing are two important departments in any company that work together to generate leads and grow the business. However, there is often conflict between these two departments because they have different goals and responsibilities.

Sales is responsible for generating revenue by closing deals with customers. They are focused on the short-term goal of making a sale and may be more willing to discount prices or make other concessions in order to close a deal.

Marketing is responsible for generating leads and awareness for the company’s products or services. They are focused on the long-term goal of building relationships with potential customers and may be less willing to discount prices or make other concessions.

The conflict between sales and marketing can lead to tension and frustration for both departments. It is important for companies to find a way to align the goals of both departments so that they can work together more effectively.

What challenges arise when sales and marketing teams are not aligned?

When sales and marketing teams are not aligned, a number of challenges can arise.

  1. The sales team may feel that they are not getting the quality or quantity of leads they need to meet their quotas. This can lead to frustration and even resentment toward the marketing team.

  2. If the sales team is not seeing results from their efforts, they may be less likely to use marketing-generated leads, instead opting for their own methods of prospecting. This lack of alignment can also lead to duplicative work, as both teams may be working on the same leads without realizing it.

  3. Misalignment between sales and marketing can result in a failure to properly nurture leads, which can impact close rates and ultimately revenue.

The role sales plays in the lead process

Sales plays a vital role in the lead process. They are responsible for generating new leads, nurturing them, and converting them into customers. Marketing may be responsible for generating awareness and interest, but it’s sales that closes the deal.

Without sales, there would be no customers. And without customers, there would be no business. It’s as simple as that. Sales is the lifeblood of any organization, and they play a critical role in the lead process.

It’s up to sales to nurture leads and turn them into paying customers.

This involves building relationships with leads, providing them with information about your product or service, and answering any questions they may have. It’s also important to identify any objections they may have and address them head-on. Only then can you close the sale and convert a lead into a customer.

The role marketing plays in the lead process

Marketing’s role in lead generation is to create awareness for the product or service and drive traffic to the website or landing pages. They do this through various marketing channels such as content marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), paid advertising, social media, email marketing, and events.

Both marketing and sales need to work together throughout the entire lead generation process in order for it to be successful. Marketing needs to generate quality leads that sales can then convert, and sales needs to nurture those leads until they’re ready to buy.

Marketing is the key content creator in most organizations. By creating content that connects with the buyer’s pain they can provide valuable support delivered at the right time to make the salesperson’s job easier and more effective.

Sales enablement is the term used to describe the various activities that a marketing team can undertake to support sales teams. This can include creating content such as blog posts, ebooks, webinars and infographics, as well as developing lead nurturing programs and providing training and support on using the latest marketing tools and techniques. 

How to better align sales and marketing

In order to better align sales and marketing, it is important to establish clear communication between the two departments. Marketing should keep sales updated on any new lead-generation campaigns or strategies, and sales should provide feedback to marketing on what is working and what is not. Taking steps to put processes and tools in place to ensure both teams have what they need to be successful in reaching their goals goes a long way in ensuring your sales and marketing teams will work in harmony to get great results.

Here are some steps to take that can help sales and marketing teams work better together:

1. Agree on roles and responsibilities.

Sales and marketing teams need to have a clear understanding of who is responsible for what. This will help avoid confusion and duplication of effort.

2. Set measurable goals.

Both teams should agree on specific, measurable goals for the lead-generation process. This will help everyone stay focused and on track.

3. Create a system for tracking leads.

It’s important to have a system in place for tracking leads as they move through the sales funnel. This way, everyone can see where things stand at any given time and make necessary adjustments. We always recommend having a CRM such as HubSpot in place. They are easy to use and allow all responsible parties access to the data they need to know how they are measuring up to their goals.

The bottom line is that both marketing and sales need to work together when it comes to bringing in leads. By collaborating and creating a plan, you can ensure that your team has everything they need to succeed.

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