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It’s an age-old battle that nobody seems to win. Marketing generates many leads, and sales reps aren’t following up on them.

Why aren’t outside sales reps following up with marketing-generated leads?

Several reasons stand out, and, of course, each side blames the other. But that blame game doesn’t help anybody. Sales sputter, revenue forecasts are reworked, and people get fired because the company isn’t hitting its numbers. Nobody wins.

Is it as bad as it sounds?

A study by MarketingSherpa found that only 56% of B2B organizations verify and distribute leads to their sales team. Sales reps do not pursue about half of the leads generated by marketing campaigns.

InsideSales.com reports that sales reps only follow up with 27% of leads generated by marketing. Neglected leads mean that most leads are not being effectively pursued or converted into sales.

A third study by the B2B Technology Marketing Community found that 61% of B2B marketers send all leads directly to sales, but only 27% of those leads are qualified.

Why are sales reps not following up?

So what are some of the reasons why these leads don’t get used?

Here are a few (sound familiar?):


Sales reps may focus on leads more likely to convert into paying customers and ignore less promising leads. It’s important to have a system that identifies and prioritizes leads based on their potential to convert.

Lack of communication

Silos still exist between sales and marketing in numerous companies, and it’s not uncommon for the two teams to regularly talk to one another to share ideas or reinforce each other’s needs. This is especially true at the Marketing Manager or Specialist level. While the VPs of the respective divisions are talking, the others are not, causing all kinds of disruptions and false starts. Bottom line—you need an ongoing dialogue between the two groups. In other words, more communication—not less.

Time constraints

Sales reps may have limited time to follow up on all the leads generated by marketing. When there are a lot of leads, the problem becomes worse. Automation tools can help to save time and resources by automating the next steps, but sometimes the sales teams are just overwhelmed with the volume of names. It sounds like a good problem to have, but not only can it cause resentment and produce burnout if the sales rep is spending hours on the phone with little success.

Poor lead quality

Sometimes, the leads generated by marketing may not be of high quality, which can discourage sales reps from following up on them. This is probably one of the biggest complaints among sales teams. Marketing campaigns often drive a volume of leads, but are these people even the right target market? How often has a webinar produced more than 100 names, only to discover that a small percentage of those people are worth pursuing? It’s discouraging and creates a credibility gap. The solution? Hyper-target your marketing efforts so only the most valuable targets see, hear, or read your message.

Lack of accountability

Sales reps may not be held accountable for following up on all the leads generated by marketing. These leads are ignored. This dilemma falls on the sales manager, who must have procedures and automation so that every lead creates a record of engagement (or no engagement). With some B2B companies that only go after a limited audience, this might not be a problem. But marketing teams often don’t get the feedback they need to re-tool or change tactics.

Where to start

In short, what can marketers do to ensure sales teams see their leads?

1. Consistently deliver higher quality leads that lead to sales. Quality, not quantity.

2. Communicate. Communicate. Communicate. Find out what your sales team needs.

3. Hire an outside firm, like Responsepoint, to handle qualifying the leads before sending them to sales. Few sales reps enjoy phone call after phone call. They’d rather swoop in, talk to a highly interested prospect, and close the deal. Let someone else do the qualifying.

None of these tips are going to solve the problem overnight. But with a little more determination and perseverance, maybe both sides can go into battle on the same side of the fighting divide and not be opposing forces.