Who should be in charge of B2B lead nurturing: sales, marketing, or both? - “Isn't the answer obvious?” you might wonder.

It's not the case. Allow me to explain. Over and over, I hear the same issue. Marketing is handling all aspects of lead generation and distributing prospects to sales.

Is nurturing prospects primarily for sales or marketing?

If the firm does not have a definition of what makes up a qualified lead, it may be impossible to determine which role of nurturing potential customers belongs to which department.

What is Lead Nurturing?

It involves creating relationships with buyers at every stage of the sales funnel and throughout their journey. It concentrates marketing and communication efforts on listening to prospects' needs and providing them with the required information and solutions.

  • On average, half of the leads in any system aren't ready to buy yet.
  • Almost 80% of fresh leads never turn into customers
  • Companies that nurture leads generate 50 percent more buyer-ready leads at a 33 percent reduced cost 
Lead Nurturing: A Job for Sales or Marketing?

In today's buyer-driven market, effectively creating prospects entails establishing and maintaining buyer relationships through a strategic lead scoring system and completing that framework with a comprehensive marketing campaign.

1. Lead Fit

The term "lead fit" refers to how well a specific buyer matches the brand's ideal prospect or typical buyer. This basic information will tell you if a lead is worth investigating, and I'll divide it into three categories:

  • Job title, firm size, region, years of experience, and other demographics of the buyer
  • Firmographics—the name of the company, its size, location, annual revenue, and so on.
  • BANT (Budget, Authority, Need, and Time) 

Is it possible for the lead to afford you? Is it possible that they have the authority to make a purchase? Is there a need for which you can provide a solution? What's his timetable like?

You can gather most of this data from filled forms in front of gated material, signing up for email subscriptions, or conducting a quick Google search.

2. Lead Attraction

The next stage of lead scoring involves tracking online behavior to assess how appealing your brand is to potential customers. Is your lead spending a significant amount of time on your website? Are they using social media? Assign numerical values to everything.

Lead Nurturing: A Job for Sales or Marketing?

3. Lead’s Behavior

If you keep a closer eye on leads' behavior, you'll be able to tell if they're serious about buying or just looking for information. Assign lower values to beginning behaviors, such as reading blog posts, and higher values to activities, such as downloading gated information or signing up for a webinar.

4. Buying Stage and Timing

The buying stage score is used to assess where a customer fits within the brand's sales model. Aligning behaviors with the top, middle, or bottom of your sales funnel is one approach to scoring the buying stage. Reward clicks on pricing sheets and product demos with more great ratings.

What are the roles of sales and marketing in generating leads?

Let's break down the essential steps involved in determining who should do what:

Lead Nurturing: A Job for Sales or Marketing?

Marketing creates and distributes content, which generates inbound leads converted into customers. Simple.

However, not all the leads generated are customer-ready. According to statistics, between 45% and 75% aren't ready.

Who is in charge of these? Nurturing leads?

It's a lead, so marketing doesn't want to. Sales don't want to do it because they have sales-ready opportunities and targets to meet. Prospects who aren't ready to be dropped are a nuisance. These possibilities will inevitably fall between the gaps.

What should it be?

‘‘Marketing has typically been the one who is in charge of finding leads and then handing them to sales. This is a flawed process because all it does is fuel the fire in the war between sales and marketing. Sales must be the one who owns the prospecting process because they're the ones responsible for turning leads into customers." Mark Hunter"  

Let me say right now: the Sales Department needs to own nurturing leads, in keeping with my propensity for upsetting the status quo. We can't put marketing in charge of this.

Lead Nurturing: A Job for Sales or Marketing?

Allow me to clarify before you go off on me. The importance of marketing has never been greater.

The more information and messages clog the marketplace, the more critical it is to deliver relevant information.

To break through the noise, they must focus on messaging and not be distracted by nurturing. Recently while having lunch with a former colleague,  producing leads came up without my prodding.

Because of the complex business she works in, she believed there was little chance marketing would ever be successful in generating leads. Her counterpart performs an excellent job writing copy, positioning the brand correctly, and doing all we would expect the team to do. 

However, with producing leads, the best they have ever done is collect names and emails from those who have requested an e-book or visited a trade show booth.

The problem is that these prospects go nowhere, since the people who react aren't decision-makers. The friend was pleading with me to help her persuade her bosses to stop having marketing chase prospects.

The idea of Sales owning the lead generating and nurturing process isn't meant to diminish the importance of marketing. It's just a matter of getting everyone to work along better. We need to put an end to the never-ending debate between these two departments about lead quality.

You've heard the argument: Sales argues. Marketing provided them with bad leads, so they didn't make the quarterly target. Marketing blames them for not doing more with the prospects that they gave.

What we have here is a convenient justification for blaming someone else for your problems. It's time we handed over the nurturing process to Sales and held them accountable to eliminate the blame game and enhance accountability. 

When you hold them accountable, it's remarkable how quickly they realize they need to prospect instead of waiting for marketing. When they are in charge of leads, they are more effective at owning the lead qualification and nurturing process and efficiently following up on all leads, not just a few.

The fact that nurturing leads is now handled by Sales is no reason for the two departments not to collaborate. Contrary to popular belief, I believe the contrary is true.

“How do they know who to target and who the decision-maker is?” You might wonder. 

An agent's capacity to build a one-to-one relationship has never been better. It all comes down to this: Marketing creates mass communications, whereas Sales creates one-on-one conversations that lead to one-on-one partnerships.

You expect that the noise in the marketplace will only get louder with each passing year, which means you should ensure that marketing is entirely focusing on what they do best.

Final Note

Allow Marketing to focus on raising brand recognition, positioning the brand, and informing the market. Those three duties are enormous in and of themselves. Allow Sales to take ownership of the lead generation and nurturing process, as you will ultimately hold them responsible for hitting or missing quarterly targets.