Is lead generation sales or marketing? | Lead Genera
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Lead Generation

Is lead generation sales or marketing?

In many companies there is a more or less permanent state of conflict that exists between marketing and sales and more specifically who is responsible for lead generation.

It seems marketing is doing everything in the area of lead generation and the forwarding the leads to the sales team.

It is then the role of the sales team to pick through the quality of leads. Some companies have now allocated lead generation solely to marketing to allow sales to focus on closing the leads.

Traditionally the role of lead generation has been left to sales, but in the modern digital era there are a lot more factors to consider.

So, is lead generation sales, marketing or both?


Definition of a lead

It can be impossible to measure if lead generation is sales or marketing if the organization doesn’t have a definition of what consists as a qualified lead.

In order for sales and marketing to work together as a partnership on lead generation it must first define and agree on what a qualifying lead actually is.

Sales and marketing can then work as a partnership and approach lead generation cooperatively and enjoy a flow of leads from all sources.

Marketing generates leads and sales teams close them. Although this is a new modern day business dynamic still being adopted.

Sales vs Marketing

There are many arguments to whether sales should be left out of lead generation to only focus on closing the qualified leads that marketing has passed onto them rather than ‘pounding the pavement’ taking on all leads whether they be good or bad.

Sales lead generation usually falls to sales, and marketing led generation is mostly dealt with by marketing. Before a lead can get to sales, marketing lead must become a qualified marketing lead, and then onto a sales qualified lead. A sales qualified lead usually gets to the sales team directly and quickly.

Marketing leads can have an open message and it can be unclear on who they are targeting as they do not want to push people to ignore their message.

Sales leads on the other hands tend to reach out to people and companies similar to there current customer base.

Marketing leads will tend to be inbound, and sales leads will be outbound. Marketing will tend to focus on areas such as;

  • Email campaigns
  • Account based marketing
  • Digital marketing

Marketing will optimize with the website content to funnel more traffic to the website.

Historically lead generation has fallen to sales but with the modern digital era it is clear that marketing are now having a bigger impact in this area.


Now a days lead generation seems to be being shared between sales and marketing and this is working for many organizations.

More and more businesses are equipping their sales and marketing teams with common objectives, outcomes and goals focusing on collaboration over conflict.

Depending on the structure of your business the roles of your sales and marketing departments can vary wildly.

Lead generation is part of marketing with sales being in charge of closing the leads so it makes sense that these departments are aligned when it comes to lead generation.

Marketing teams launch campaigns in an effort to get customers to sign up for the products or services on offer and are then nurtured into a sales ready lead that is then moved over to the sales department.

Lead generation has been known to cause strife amongst the department and the general assumption is that it is marketing’s responsibility.

Pros and cons

There are pros and cons for whether sales should be in charge of lead generation, or marketing should be solely responsible.

If marketing are responsible for lead generation then it reduces the temptation to prematurely accelerate leads and it means there is a pace of evolution. It also means there is a greater alignment within the buying process and a greater focus on conversations.

But on the other side of the coin if marketing were only dealing with lead generation then it means there would be a slower collaboration with sales and there may be a slower capability acquisition.

If lead generation was a sales only role then there are some positives to this such as an increased collaboration, a greater sales force who have call centre expertise but it could mean a lower pace of evolution and a lack of quality leads with potential for corrupted learning and bad habits to sneak into every day practice.

Other Factors

It isn’t just as straightforward as whether lead generation is sales or marketing but there are also a number of other factors to consider as well. The success of the department does tend to fall down to leadership, and the leader’s ability to enable change in practices.

They must have a collaborative mindset and not just focus on the success of their department. Call centre logistics and proximity between the departments also comes into play as well as staff readiness.