This is a question that is often debated or even argued over in staff meetings and budget planning meetings the world over. Both Sales and Marketing departments can make a reasonable case for who the telemarketing or outbound lead generation team should report to.
The Marketing department will argue that telemarketing is a marketing function whose primary objective is to qualify and nurture leads until they are ready to meet with a sales person and be promoted to the sales pipeline report. They would claim that this is no different than an email marketing program designed to generate leads for the sales floor.
Of course the Sales department has been known to argue that when you start talking with prospects you have already started the selling process, therefore tight alignment between the telemarketing team and the sales team is critical to their success. Plus, the telemarketing team is often seen as a hunting ground for sales managers looking to recruit promising sales talent not afraid to pick up the phone and cold call a prospect.
To be honest, coming from a Sales Management background, in the past I have been known to side with the sales teams on this one, however, these days I am changing my tune… Here is why.
It is all about the leads
A successful marketing department is one that consistently generates high quality actionable leads and sales meetings for the sales organization. The marketing team is obviously not closing deals and working to make quota, but rather setting the sales team up for success and giving them what they need to ensure the business meets its revenue targets for the quarter and the year.
An effective telemarketing or lead generation team will be 100% aligned to this goal. In fact, when the telemarketing team creeps across the line and becomes involved in the sales process their productivity as a marketing resource begins to diminish. Like they say, “you can’t serve two masters.” This team shouldn’t be distracted from their role of generating qualified leads and new business appointments by staying engaged with a prospect after the lead has been handed-off to the sales team.
Don’t have a telemarketing team?
Like many of the marketing functions today, the telemarketing effort can be outsourced to a specialized firm that can build dedicated programs or quarterly campaigns to execute the lead generation or sales appointment setting efforts for the business. By outsourcing the telemarketing function to a professional marketing firm, the marketing department can now easily leverage this traditional marketing channel without the challenge of building the technology infrastructure, recruiting and managing a telemarketing team and creating the processes and developing the skills required to make it consistently successful.
Marketing leaders are more accountable to the business today for producing results than ever before. The days of creating campaigns and marketing collateral, then training the telemarketing team/inside sales team to deliver a targeted message just to find out all your work and investment ended up in the “circular file” or ignored are over. Now you will have to defend your campaigns and report the actual return on investment against a forecasted return.
Marketing leaders today do not shirk this accountability and are demanding the authority that comes with it to run their own outbound calling campaigns. Now marketing directors can be confident that their research and messages they have developed are leveraged to the benefit of the company. To accomplish this they are staking claim to the telemarketing teams, building their own teams or partnering with experienced lead generation and appointment setting firms to execute their campaigns under their watchful eye.
Therefore, I believe most B2B companies will be better served by letting the telemarketing team “market” while the sales team sells. Clear lines between the organizations with open communication and teamwork will allow the business to be most successful.