As a lot of you know, I have been actively seeking a new position focused on inbound marketing/lead generation for the last few months. Using tools such as LinkedIn Jobs and Indeed.com, I setup searches for keyword phrases such as ‘lead generation’. It quickly became apparent to me that although this was the ideal focus of my next job, this phrase was not a match. In fact, positions available with this phrase were inside sales rep positions or lead qualifiers.

When did lead generation become a sales function?

I know there are organizations that exist with an army of sales professionals hired for the contents and size of their rolodex. The sales professionals, using that rolodex, become the lead generators. Marketing has no function when it comes to generating leads; the sales team is on their own.

Are organizations seriously still doing this? Or better yet, why are they doing this? Does this not seem like a tremendous waste of time to you?

The Rolodex Will End

What happens when your sales professionals reach the end of the rolodex? They have either sold, lost or are in the process of negotiating with every single person they know and introduced to the company? What happens then? Are you ready? Do you hire a new sales person with a new rolodex? Or do you jump into reactive mode and giddy-up with a lead generation strategy fueled by the marketing team?

One Person Can Only Do So Much

At various companies I have worked for, I have had experience with both sales professionals that had established contacts and those that did not. In both instances my support in regards to building content to nurture prospects through the sales cycle, creating webinar programs that engaged and educated, and establishing personal connections using social media were both welcomed and very much appreciated. One person, your sales professional, can only do so much without the support of marketing.

Lead Generation vs. Cold Calling

There is a big difference between generating leads and simply calling on cold contacts that you found in some directory. When we build a strategic inbound marketing plan, the leads generated know something about the company and they have typically performed some type of action to get into your database to begin with. True, sometimes you may return from a tradeshow and have a few names to cold call, but even those stopped by your booth – right?

Now I am not saying there is no value in a person’s rolodex because there certainly is. What I am saying is that it is not a long-term strategy by any means to rely on it alone and to rely on the sales person alone pursuing it. There must be support from marketing to generate leads that are not in the rolodex and there must be support to help push those prospects further down the pipeline.

Why are we ignoring inbound marketing and pulling our target audience to us with quality content and conversation and instead focusing on calling everyone in the phonebook? Should sales generate leads or is this a marketing function?