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Should your engineering marketing team provide sales qualified leads?

At your company, who is responsible for qualifying leads?  Sales or Marketing? 


This is an important question, since leads that are followed up faster are much more likely to become sales qualified.  According to a study by Velocify, the impact of speed to call on lead conversion rate is huge, as shown in the chart below.  So if your marketing team wants to really drive revenue, it is critical that leads be followed up fast. 



Is fast follow-up more likely to happen if the leads qualification responsibility reports to Sales or to Marketing? Many of our clients are not qualifying leads fast enough.  But first, let’s consider what we mean by a qualified lead. 

What is a sales qualified lead?

In most organizations a sales qualified lead is a person who has demonstrated that they have:

  • Identified a problem that your product can address
  • The purchasing authority to buy a solution, or they can get that authority
  • A realistic budget set aside to solve the problem at hand
  • An urgency to solve the problem in the near future

To qualify a lead with this depth of information requires personal contact. 

Do you need a lead qualification specialist?

To make sure that these leads are qualified fast rather than falling on the “to do” list of the sales team, many companies have a specialist role, called a Sales Development Rep.  This white paper from Marketo is a good read on how to set up the SDR role, (and you don’t have to register to get it).

As marketers, many of us don’t even think in these terms, believing that our job is done once the prospect has completed the requisite form.  That may be due to the fact that 70% of SDR teams report to sales, according to a study by the Bridge Group.

However, the percent of teams reporting to Sales changes dramatically for companies who are heavily reliant on inbound marketing rather than outbound calling. 


In companies that source more of their new business from inbound activities, almost half of them assign the lead qualification responsibility to Marketing. And if you believe the Hubspot marketing reports, inbound marketing is growing while investment in outbound tactics is flat.  As a result, we should expect more companies will be more reliant on inbound, leading to more Marketing teams running the lead qualification function.

Inbound_marketing_budgetKey takeaways:

  1. Fast qualification is critical for turning leads into opportunities
  2. A dedicated resource (SDR) can make sure that leads are qualified fast
  3. SDRs can report to sales if most of your business comes from outbound calling
  4. Consider making your SDR’s part of your marketing team if your business comes from inbound marketing efforts

As marketing becomes more important, and as inbound marketing grows relative to outbound, forward thinking marketers are looking at taking over more of the job of lead qualification.

This research has got me thinking about changing the way we qualify leads.  How about you?  Share your thoughts in the comments below or in the Digital Marketing for Engineers group on Linkedin.


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