Does Inside Sales Belong In Marketing?

Happy New Year, everyone! Jeff reminds me that I made a resolution to blog more, so let me post a short one to start off and ask a question:

Does your inside sales/ telesales organization report up to the head of Sales or the head of Marketing?

I’m hearing directors of demand generation, CMOs, and VPs of marketing argue compellingly that inside sales should take direction from marketing. When in sales, this team works the phones to close business this quarter and rarely analyzes why certain prospects turn out to be better customers. In marketing, their focus shifts from setting appointments to learning what qualifies a lead as ready for a sales call, and – if it's not quite ready – what they can do to help the prospect get there. Jason Hekl, senior director of marketing at InQuira – who also heads up demand generation – changed his inside sales teams compensation structure this year to reflect this emphasis. Instead of being measured on appointments and calls, his team now gets paid a portion of their comp at the point when sales accepts the lead and puts it in the pipeline. The result? Inside sales reps spend more time qualifying leads before sending them to sales. Then they chase after their outside reps to accept the lead and move it to the next stage. Marketing benefits because inside sales gives them much better data and feedback about which marketing messages work and what makes for a better prospect profile.

So what do you think? Is there a trend toward having inside sales report to marketing, or am I just seeing a part of the picture?

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re: Does Inside Sales Belong In Marketing?

Yes, yes, yes! It makes no sense to compensate sales for making calls. That is the wrong incentive. Sales should be focused on closing sales, and compensated for doing so. And marketing, or inside sales reps, should spend their time qualifying leads, not creating lists that go nowhere. Then marketing and sales should work closely together to ensure a positive sales experience for both the rep and the potential customer.

re: Does Inside Sales Belong In Marketing?

Absolutely! And, instead of Inside Sales having to chase the sales reps to get them to take the prospect, why not integrate with the CRM database and allow them to book a meeting with the appropriate sales rep as a way to stage the transition?Additionally, the Inside Sales resource should have the ability to make available to the sales rep all the information that he/she has discovered about the prospect, as well as that prospect's history of interactions with the marketing website and marketing activities, giving sales the foundation for a compelling sales conversation.

re: Does Inside Sales Belong In Marketing?

Lewis and Ardath -- thank you for weighing in on this post with your insights. I am still curious as to whether readers like yourselves see Inside Sales reporting to Marketing as a growing trend. Is this happening more often?Ardath, just to clarify: InQuira's inside reps do work inside their CRM system and set appointments for reps. The new incentives encourage the inside reps to follow up AFTER the meetings and make sure they well-qualified the prospect in the first place.

re: Does Inside Sales Belong In Marketing?

Sorry to jump into the discussion a little late, but I think part of the answer depends on your average selling price and sales model. If you have a large ASP and use a direct sales force, then the role of Inside Sales is perfectly aligned with Marketing: acquire, nurture, and quality leads before passing them to sales.On the other hand, if you have a lower ASP (i.e. companies targeting SMBs, such as Salesforce) then Inside Sales may be the only human contact a potential customer gets. This turns the Inside Sales job into one of closing business, which better aligns with Sales.In sum, it all depends on whether there is a different function responsible for closing the business.

re: Does Inside Sales Belong In Marketing?

I'm on the side of having it sit in marketing. We work to develop relationships on both the B2B and B2C sectors and building warm relationships for the field is a key initiative. My biggest challenge: convincing my peers of the approach and convincing our field personnel that this type of resource can add significant value for them.

re: Does Inside Sales Belong In Marketing?

I know this is a rather old article, but I loved the point. It is a common mantra of mine that especially today, in the world of customer-centricity, sales, marketing, and CRM must meet and align in order to succeed. In regards to inside sales reporting Marketing, I feel that it depends on the inside sales function. If the sales team is hunting, then it should be sales leadership that guides them. If the sales team is taking orders, appointments, qualifying leads etc, then marketing should guide them. In the latter scenario Marketing Leadership needs to be sure that the VOC (voice of the customer) is being heard and responded to with appropriate brand material, and finally that the inside sales team is collecting the appropriate customer data in order to gain the insight necessary to drive the companies customer-centric goals.

re: Does Inside Sales Belong In Marketing?

Yes, I think it would be great to have inside sales report to marketing. I am now looking for some inside sales resources, to help with a lead nurturing program. Qualifying leads, nurturing them into "sales ready" leads, is a part that inside sales could play. I realize that the compensation structure would have to change for them. When I suggested this in my company, one comment was, can they close sales too. My initial thinking was no, because if they got compensated on that, they would concentrate their efforts on low hanging fruit, exactly what sales is already doing. Instead, they could be compensated on delivering high quality leads (however sales and marketing defines this). Marketing is creating inquires from many different activities, it would be great to have inside sales more involved in nuturing those leads. Most of these ideas come from Brian Caroll's book - Lead Generation for the Complex Sale.It is great to hear more and more insight into this issue...thank you.

re: Does Inside Sales Belong In Marketing?

I'm chiming in late also but couldn't resist since I've experienced the pain of this issue. To answer Laura's question of is this happening more often, the answer is yes. My old company (high ASP enterprise software) finally wised up and moved Inside Sales into Marketing and it made a huge difference in building a bigger and higher quality pipeline. Of course it required a true integration of the inside sales reps into the team...physically moving the two teams close together, attending weekly staff meetings, jointly building direct marketing programs, testing marketing messages, etc. etc. We also had pretty good relationships with the field sales team but never could match the level of interaction and input because they were incented totally on closed deals and therefore had little time for us. The bottom line is that when properly structured the ROI is strong and as word gets out (via Forrester, Sherpa, blogs, etc.) more companies will take Inside Sales into Marketing.

re: Does Inside Sales Belong In Marketing?

Just got this via Google Alerts this morning, and working in Inside Sales this is a topic close to my every day job.In the organisation that I work with Inside Sales in truly a sales organisation - not a marketing or a lead nurturing engine.Here Inside Sales is a funnel and revenue generating, customer relationship creating and managing sales engine. We still have marketing units working on leads creation, but when it comes to the sales bit we have account managers in the field as well as in Inside Sales.That's because we believe that you'll achieve more growth if you put more sales people behind it, and if you have a challenge covering your market Inside Sales Account Managers certainly deliver value!

re: Does Inside Sales Belong In Marketing?

Inside Sales is still too broadly defined to offer a clear answer. Here at InsideSales.com we service hundreds of Inside Sales departments as clients and the majority are a phone-based or 'remote sales' operation, this group's function should probably continue to report to sales.Lately we are seeing more and more surface who directly work with contacting, qualifying and converting a high quantity of leads and turning them to the sales department. If this is the function of Inside Sales, it makes more sense reporting to Marketing.Our most successful clients have a high quantity of web leads that are responded to immediately by Inside Sales teams with dialers and CRM tools. They usually sell smaller ticket items or book appointments for larger ticket sales with specialized closers who spend much more time with the prospect.

re: Does Inside Sales Belong In Marketing?

I believe that a holistic approach connecting marketing, sales and customer service is the best way. After all, your marketing department must be aware of the outcome of their lead generation, in terms of closed sales, as well as the customer experience.In many ways than one, inside sales are actually marketing individuals, since their job is not selling, rather; qualifing leads.

re: Does Inside Sales Belong In Marketing?

In any firm, the role of marketing is to do whatever possible to ensure sales effectiveness. In other words, see to it that sales does more of relationship management, account management, deal closing and generating repeat business.In that context, inside sales could be a part of marketing. Why? because marketing has the mandate to bring the customer to the firm. One might argue Inside Sales is going to the customer. Agreed, but would sales be able to direct Inside Sales effectively? Inside Sales needs the entire organizational understanding of the customer/prospect to be effective. This knowledge and specialization is available with Marketing as a whole and not with Individual sales personnel who might not have the complete picture to direct inside sales.Got this somewhere.Every organization has a process for moving prospective customers from the very first contact to contract phase. This contact-to-contract process usually requires excellent teamwork between the marketing, inside-sales, and sales teams. The sub-process that gets a lot of attention these days is lead generation or demand generation as it’s called more broadly. How do we know if our organization lead generation system is good or is in bad need for a major reengineering?Let us look at some key areas:Performance Criteria mark Yes/No or better still use a percentile.1.Goals are explicit and visible2.Management engaged3.Explicit and agreed upon definition of “lead”4.Defined roles/responsibilities in sales/marketing functions5.Personnel are trained and effective in their role6.Personnel are highly motivated7.Clear hand-offs occur between these roles8.Quarterly budget in place (vs ad hoc)9.Corrective actions taken based on metrics (i.e. closed loop)10.Database(s) established for marketing and sales effortsIf you give a percentile to each and your total adds up to 700 or more you are in good shape.If less, you know what to do.RegardsFelix PeriaGeneral ManagerExceed Technologies