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4 Mistake that Will Sabotage Outbound Lead Generation and Sales Team Collaboration

This is the first post in a five-part series on how outbound lead generation teams can collaborate with other teams to improve lead generation results. This post covers why it’s so important to foster collaboration between your outbound lead generation team and your sales team — and highlights four big mistakes that will ensure that doesn’t happen.

Collaboration with the sales team is the foremost critical inter-team relationship that requires management attention. Sales reps are critical stakeholders in the outbound lead generation process, and having their buy-in on the mission and role of the outbound lead generation team is critical to the success of your outbound lead generation initiative.

When the sales team cooperates, and actively participates in the outbound lead generation process, they will bring a tremendous amount of value to the team, which will in turn provide a boost to their own efforts and the entire company, in general.

There are a number of common failure points at which this relationship tends to break down, but if you proactively monitor and manage the relationship, you will significantly increase your odds of success.

1) Treat Your Outbound Lead Generation Reps Like Sales Rep Administrative Assistants

Let’s be clear — outbound lead generation reps have their own goals and objectives that they are expected to meet, and that doesn’t include being a sales rep’s personal assistant.

Outbound lead generation reps who are early on in their career can easily fall into the trap of doing whatever the sales person asks them to do, even if it’s not moving them toward their goals. As a result, they aren’t doing their job, and, ultimately, that will hurt the sales rep’s pipeline just as much as the lead gen rep’s results.

The lead generation team manager must keep an eye out for this type of behavior and can put an end to it by clarifying the roles and responsibilities of everyone involved in the process.

2) Don’t Establish a Clear Lead Hand-Off Process or a Firm Definition of What a Lead Is

Sales reps must buy into the same definitions and processes that the lead generation team is working toward. That means that as long as a qualified lead meets the defined criteria, sales reps must treat it as one.

Sales reps need to know and play their role in the qualified lead hand-off process as defined by the leadership, and they must follow up on all appointments/qualified leads that are passed to them. They must also follow the hand-back process when an appointment/qualified lead does not meet the defined criteria so that the lead generation rep can follow up on it.

The outbound lead generation team manager must follow up on the leads that his or her team passes to sales to make sure that they are meeting the defined criteria and being followed up on by sales.

3) Don’t Schedule Regular Meetings Between the Teams

Besides monitoring the common failure points, outbound lead generation team managers can also take proactive measures to improve collaboration with the sales team.

Encouraging outbound lead generation reps to meet with the sales reps they support weekly or biweekly is a great way to do that. This allows them to build a good working relationship, learn each other’s styles, and collaborate on different ways to penetrate accounts. It also gives the outbound lead generation reps an opportunity to receive more direct and detailed feedback on the opportunities that are going well, and on the leads that get handed back.

4) Don’t Meet with Reps Individually

Finally, outbound lead generation team managers should make it a point to collaborate with sales by meeting with sales reps individually. That will allow them to solicit unfiltered feedback on outbound lead generation reps and the quality of the leads being passed over.

In my next post I’ll discuss how the marketing feedback loop can bring value both to the marketing team, and to the outbound lead generation team.


Ori Yankelev is a Sales and Marketing Associate for OpenView Venture Partners, working with the firm’s portfolio on developing great business development and inside sales teams.

  • Jimmy

    These are all good points. I have had to deal with 1 and 2 the most. If I wanted to be an Admin, I would be one.

    • orisfa

      Hi Jimmy. thanks for the comment. You are not alone.

  • Apolinaras Sinkevicius

    Why not put outbound lead-gen together under the same group as inbound lead-gen in marketing? Usually both groups can run under same metrics and performance compensation system. Folks closing the deals have sales ops to take care of them.

    • orisfa

      Apolinaras, that’s a good question. In fact some companies do it that way, but I think there a lot of benefits that come from having the team report to sales. In order to be effective in a B2B sales environment each outbound lead gen rep will need to collaborate closely with the reps they are supporting to ensure a seamless hand-off for the prospect.

      While the metrics can be similar for inbound and outbound lead generation there are many other factors to consider when determining the where the team should fit in to the org. chart. I actually wrote a series on lead gen team reporting structures a few months ago that outlines some of those factors and 3 common reporting structures:

      I hope the helps.