This question is a real dilemma for many companies that have separate sales and marketing organizations. In many companies there is a definite disconnect between the two departments. Marketing may feel that their mission is to establish a brand, provide clear messaging, sales collateral, and to provide a lead list to the sales organization. Once this process is done marketing feels that the sales organization’s responsibility is to nurture prospects, qualify prospects and close deals. The sales organization may believe their responsibilities are simply to manage existing accounts, develop prospect plans on assigned accounts and to pursue those accounts that have been qualified by the marketing department.
The real answer is that both organizations have an ongoing dependency on each other to ensure the goals of the company are realized. When you consider that a productive sales resource is probably one of the scarcest and highest cost employees in a company, it is critical that they spend their time working with qualified prospects and not doing tasks that are not directly related to closing deals.
A more efficient approach is to employ a process where marketing owns the prospect list development, lead identification, and lead nurturing. By using a combination of outbound and inbound marketing techniques a prospect can be developed more effectively and at a much lower cost than by just handing each one off to sales. Implementation of a rules based lead scoring methodology can determine when a lead becomes high probability and should be handed off to sales for further qualification and solution development. Over time the scoring methodology can be tweaked based on feedback from sales to improve the accuracy of the qualification process. If a lead that has been passed to sales is determined to be unqualified it should be moved back into marketing for further nurturing. This closed loop process ensures that little or no leakage will occur at the top of the sales funnel.
Staying one step ahead of your competition requires good processes and discipline. The days of “sales eating what they kill” are over.