Sales and Marketing Miscommunication: Butting Heads Over Quality Leads

Devon-McDonald by

Are two heads always better than one? That depends on how well they function together. If your two heads are the marketing department and the sales department, they may not always operate with a shared belief system.

Which issues wedge sales and marketing apart? Most of the time, the origin of their squabbles can be traced back to a fundamental business asset: leads. While the specifics will vary, it’s apparent that leads can keep marketers and salespeople at odds, indefinitely.

Lead Definition Disconnects

Recent research from The Bridge Group and Vorsight has shown that miscommunication compounds the issue. Every company designates a proverbial sweet spot for their leads. The resulting lead that enters the sales funnel may not always be up to par with the prescribed standards. But contrary to what a sales department will readily assume, this shouldn’t be attributed the marketing department, as it’s more likely a byproduct of miscommunication.

In a utopian world, your sales department would prefer to have every lead be a quality one. The reality is that, eventually, the lead quality will likely deviate because you’re either exhausting the pool of candidates; your marketing campaigns aren’t attracting the exact leads they were intended to or a similar reason. This is inevitable. What is unacceptable, however, is when a marketing team sends what it perceives to be a quality lead down the pipeline and the sales department disagrees. Trish Bertuzzi, the founder and president of the inside sales consulting agency, The Bridge Group, shared some insights on the problem.

“You can have 200 leads coming in trish bertuzzi.headshotevery month, but if only 20 are hitting the sweet spot that you need them to, it’s not going to work. Marketing and sales teams need to learn how to work together to generate leads more efficiently.”

Trish Bertuzzi, President and Founder, The Bridge Group

With Leads, Quality Always Trumps Quantity

Quality will always surpass quantity when it comes to leads. And a systematically inefficient lead generation system will always fail to create the sort of leads that a high-performing sales process requires. Bertuzzi elaborated on the wasteful creation of throwaway leads.

“Quite honestly, that inaccuracy and inefficiency is the byproduct of a miscommunication between marketing and sales departments on what exactly constitutes a quality lead,” Bertuzzi said. “Marketing may think it’s hitting the bulls-eye — or at least getting close enough — and sales might be looking for a profile that’s altogether very different.”

How to Develop a Standard Definition for Quality Leads

What sort of operational management techniques can you employ to overcome this issue? Essentially, you need to develop a best practices process for lead quality control, which starts and ends with transparent communication. A common definition of a qualified lead must be adopted if your departments are to ever see eye-to-eye. And therein is the problem that most companies are pressed with. How do you get sales’ unmitigated trust, when they aren’t always aware of what’s going on in the marketing department? Again, in such scenarios, transparency is paramount.

Outside of the sales funnel, the marketing-sales rub may not seem as obvious. Management teams often go about their business thinking that the perfunctory connection that bonds the two departments is enough to unite them into a cohesive unit. But most times, when sales are down or barbs are being hurled between these two divisions, a failure to communicate is the first issue cited.

To provide valuable advice on this subject, OpenView Venture Partners collaborated with The Bridge Group and Vorsight, a sales-training firm, to tap the insights and knowledge that all the parties shared about quality leads and interdepartmental communication. In terms of the research, a survey of 1,150 inside sales representatives was performed. More than 350 responses went into the charted data. And the resulting analytical assessment showed that just 6 percent of poll-takers felt that marketing was hitting the sweet spot with their leads. Furthermore, 63 percent also said that the accuracy of the lead data (contact info, name, title, etc.) was “not at all accurate.”

The resulting report provides a glimpse at research that proposes a solution to the problem.

For a preview of their findings, download the report on sales’ perception of marketing’s leads.

Photo by: Linda Tanner