What’s the reasoning behind separating the B2B lead generation function from the sales function?
The premise behind separating the two functions is that the skills needed to excel in each are different. While they seem to overlay each other, and definitely support each other, they are unique and disparate.
So often, companies start out salespeople in the sales development role. Sales development functions – when executed correctly and that deliver the expected results, are critical to pipeline development. However the skills and competencies necessary for the sales development role are specific to that role. How does that prepare aspiring sales reps for sales when they are unique functions? How does it make them better sale people? It gets them comfortable talking on the phone but doesn't give them the sales training and experience they may certainly need. By separating the two functions and realizing the essential skill sets, organizations can hire and train the individuals that would be best suited for each task.
The second reason you would want to separate the functions is speed-to-close. The selling process is a much longer, much more competitive process. You can focus your skilled sales team on the business leads and opportunities generated from sales development. Let them do what they do best a) follow up and nurture, b) close. The end result will be more sales, more quickly.
How do you make sure the two aren’t operating in silos?
Separating the B2B lead gen from the sales function doesn't mean they can't be under the same umbrella. While they have different functions, measurements and management, it doesn't mean they shouldn’t participate in each other’s success. So if you have a sales meeting, the sales development team should also be involved and vice versa. You'll get better results if they feel more like a cohesive unit.
To confirm what we’ve been seeing in the field, I recently followed up with Hugo Bader, Vice President of Business Development at DialAmerica, a firm that specializes in outsourcing lead generation and qualification. He said that “many companies are separating the lead generation function from the sales function and have been very successful as a result. This is because they’ve chosen to outsource or specialize the lead generation function to individuals with the skillset geared towards that specific call type.”
It sounds like making sure both groups act as one, with a lot of communication, is important.
Communication is key. This means at the basic level they have to operate from the same play book and messaging. That drives consistency from a content and messaging standpoint with your prospects as well as communication internally between the two teams. The next essential is that both groups are aligned and communicate regularly and frequently. The last thing you want to do is create two groups that don’t talk to each other.
It may be redundant, but it’s so important that it is worth emphasizing again. Make sure the messaging used for engaging with prospects, is consistent with the messaging in the sales follow up process. Great business leads/opportunities generated by sales development can easily be lost if that messaging alignment is broken. It leaves the prospect confused, frustrated and can easily drive that prospect to your competitor because of your inconsistent sales messaging.
Now that they’re separate, how do you handle compensation?
There are obviously two rules of thought on the subject. Should the sales development role be compensated separately on its own merit, or should their compensation also factor in the success of the leads they generate?
Ultimately if each group is managed and measured correctly, you should be able to evaluate each on their own individual metrics and compensate accordingly.
Lori Richardson is recognized on Forbes as one of the "Top 30 Social Sales Influencers" worldwide and is a Top 25 Innovative Sales Blogger. Lori speaks, writes, trains, and consults with inside sales teams in mid-sized companies. Subscribe to the award-winning blog for sales strategies, tactics, and tips.
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