on Mar 12, 2021 / by Corey Cantrell

Should Lead Development Report to Sales or Marketing?

As the need for more personalization in lead generation has arisen, so has the conversation around what proper lead development can look like. A couple key challenges that more than likely stick out when you look at your current lead generation strategy are scalability and conversions. This is common, if not, expected with the current buying landscape. Quality leads are becoming more difficult to generate, and it’s even harder to convert the few leads you get. So, the question stands; who should be in charge of your lead development strategy- sales or marketing?

Lead Development Defined

Well, you’ll see throughout this article that we won’t tell you how either sales or marketing should be managed. Instead, we should explore the meanings and nuances behind the actually challenges both sales and marketing face. What exactly is “lead development”? Newfangled says that “Lead development is comprised of two things: lead creation and lead nurturing.” This is true. In fact, it’s safe to say that proper lead development happens even before the lead is created. Lead development as a methodology is the catering and enabling of buyers to engage with your content and convert through the buying funnel.

User experience and lead development should be two words that operate simultaneously, being paired in every conversation about the lead generation topic. Why? Because you can’t have lead development with bad UX. We’ll talk more about the strategy later on in this article, but as it goes; the process of developing leads is robust, and should be looked at in pieces rather than the whole.

  • Lead creation
  • Lead nurture
  • User experience

There you have it. Lead development broken down into an actionable definition. If your team can define what each part of this means to your organization, then chances are, you have a defined lead development strategy.

Sales Focused Lead Generation

There are really two halves that we can look at when it comes to lead development reporting. The first falls under the idea of lead generation through sales. Some might call this “sales development” or “business development”. The process of sequenced prospecting activities to assigned contacts/clients is a pretty common practice in most businesses, and it’s easy to misconstrue this as lead development. The main reason for that is the mindset that- as long as you’re contacting or following up on the leads, you’re doing everything you can. While that mentality is a good place to start, you’re likely missing out on one of the most important pieces of the lead development process: the lead nurture.

So much can be learned from proper lead nurture, and it’s just not attainable by a sales development rep. Not to say that it’s impossible, but you typically don’t want your SDRs focused on nurturing leads through the marketing funnel. The gathering of those data points and overall lead scoring shouldn’t fall under sales management, so why put that on your SDRs? Lead generation through sales is a valid practice, and should be done at the SDR level, but it’s important to understand the value sales development has, versus lead development. Lead development, while focused on generating revenue to an extent, is generally a process that supports sales development- not the other way around.

Scalable Marketing ROI

The second half to lead development reporting falls under marketing attribution. This may seem pretty straightforward, right? If the leads you generate and nurture end up converting through the funnel, marketing should get acknowledged for that success. However, it’s worth looking into what why this is so important to the overall marketing ROI. Look at things this way: as a marketer, you more than likely understand of the leads you generate the most. You’ve taken the time to develop your ideal customer profile, segment various personas and targets, and know the lead scoring in and out. Out of anyone in your company, you’re the most equipped to understand what it would take to fully develop a lead. Lead generation, lead nurture, and UX can all be managed under marketing, and you probably have all the tools available to pull analytics and reporting on those individual pieces. As it stands, demand generation marketers are the most equipped to get the most out of a lead development strategy. This results in provable marketing ROI, as you’re able to provide KPI insights on all aspects of the lead generation process.

The Lead Development Strategy

Okay, now that we’ve learned about both the sales and marketing sides to lead development- what does it look like to put together a lead development strategy? We answered this, to an extent, earlier on in the article, but you’ll want to put define your lead generation, lead nurture, and user experience. What this looks like playing out however, is a multi-layered process that focuses on lead engagement and the gathering of data. Therefore, it’s immensely important to consider these two items

  • You need diverse call to actions that accompany all of your content.
  • You’ll need to prioritize various lead gen channels to fully optimize engagement.

You’ll want to think about how you can encourage the lead to take next steps in learning about your solutions and understanding their challenges. Having various CTAs that tie heavily into the content that is being used, can really help enable your leads to seek out more information. One thing to avoid with this however, is the idea that all CTAs must be “asking for a meeting”. In fact, you really shouldn’t be “asking” your leads anything. The call to action should be a suggestive next step that the lead feels they need to take based on the strong content that you provided them.

It’s safe to say that, based on what we’ve talked about, the lead development process should be owned by the marketing team. It just makes sense when you consider the value that both sales and marketing bring to the table. Sales shouldn’t be focused on everything that lead development entails, as it often times can clash with the sales process of moving prospects through the buying process. Marketing, however, has all the tools and insights needed to gather the most data from a lead development strategy. Now what are the next steps for enacting a lead development process for your team? First off, you’ll want to nail down everything highlighted in this article. Secondly, you should bring on a lead development rep, focused on executing the process and reporting on the data and analytics. If this seems overwhelming to you, PureB2B actually has a solution that can help you get this process started, called PureFunnel. Check it out if you’re interested!

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