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Pipeline Football Game: Sales v. Marketing

by Trish Bertuzzi on Tue, Nov 04, 2008

I think we have reached a milestone in the challenge of "who has responsibility for the pipeline?". 

The Olden Days: Sales was Responsible
Back in the olden days, sales was responsible for the pipeline.  They knocked on doors, they cold called, they networked at trade shows, they did whatever it took to find prospects and get them into the pipeline.  Then that changed.....

The Not-so Distant Past: Marketing was Responsible
This change made Marketing not only responsible for getting the prospects to self identify but also for nurturing them till they are ready to buy. 

So how did that happen? The availability of marketing automation certainly played a part in the shift.  There are a number of vendors in the market with the message "if you build it they will come".  And hopefully they are correct, the prospects will come.  But turning those prospects into customers is where the rubber meets the road.  Who owns that piece of the puzzle?

Pete Caputa wrote a great post on How Your Sales Team Can Support Your Online Marketing(Note: Pete is a rabid inbound marketing guy who happens to be in sales so his perspective is interesting.)  Here is an excerpt:

So, now that marketing is accountable. Sales has to be accountable. Sales doesn't have any more excuses.

  • Sales can't complain about lack of leads to call when each salesperson has 100 untouched leads. OR 1,000 that haven't been "closed lost" or "unqualified".

  • Sales can't really complain that these prospects aren't engaged or interested enough. They've opted-in to a sales process. If their interest can't be piqued, how the heck did your salespeople close anything from cold calling?

  • Sales can't complain that these prospects aren't really ready to buy yet. Sales should be nurturing them, identifying urgency and presenting appropriate solutions at the appropriate time.

  • Sales can't complain that these prospects just don't fit our typical customer profile. There's 100 untouched ones. Sales should call the next lead. Even better. Maybe sales can help develop additional profiles that need the company's expertise and/or help product management come up with products and services that serve another segment of the market. 

Ok. So, now that marketing is kicking butt - generating leads - literally "taking names" and sales has no more excuses. What's next?

Today and Future: Sales & Marketing Share Responsibility
So, what is Pete trying to communicate?  That Sales + Marketing = Pipeline.  No one group owns responsibility.  You have to work as a team, building a plan that integrates marketing messaging with sales relationship building.

 Here are a few quick tips on how to do that:

  1. Work together to develop your Ideal Customer Profile. What do high probability accounts look like? Get specific - if you say Fortune 500 feel free to shoot yourself in the foot! This will allow marketing to very specifically target only those prospects you want to end up in your pipeline.

  2. Build outbound campaigns that integrate marketing touches with sales interaction. The ball should be passed back and forth like in basketball and not just run down the field by the quarterback like in football. (Please note I stink at sports analogies!)

  3. Communicate to both organizations that they are each responsible for the pipeline. You have to stop pointing fingers and start joining hands!

Would love to hear from you!  How are your sales & marketing organizations working together to build pipeline and generate revenue?

Topics: target marketing, lead qualification

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