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10 min read

Revenue and pipeline ownership: Sales vs. marketing

Team alignment

The current business landscape is fiercely competitive, there’s no doubt about that, and driving revenue and effectively managing the sales pipeline are critical components of organizational success.

But who owns revenue and pipeline? Does it fall with marketing or lie within sales? Maybe it’s a combination of the two. After all, teamwork makes the dream work, right? 

In this article, we’ll get into:

The importance of revenue generation and pipeline management

Revenue generation is the lifeblood of any business, fueling growth, innovation, and long-term sustainability. 

A well-managed sales pipeline ensures a steady flow of qualified leads, enabling organizations to accurately forecast revenue, allocate resources effectively, and make data-driven decisions. 

Proper pipeline management is essential for identifying and addressing bottlenecks, optimizing conversion rates, and ultimately maximizing revenue potential.

The role of sales and marketing teams in this process

Both the sales and marketing teams play pivotal roles in the revenue generation and pipeline management process. 

Marketers are responsible for attracting and nurturing leads through various inbound and outbound strategies, creating awareness and interest in the company's products or services.

Sales, on the other hand, take the baton and engage with these qualified leads, guiding them through the buyer's journey and closing those all-important deals.

The ongoing debate of revenue and pipeline ownership: An overview

Revenue generation and pipeline management are essential – that’s undisputed – but there’s a longstanding debate about who should own and drive these critical processes; the sales team or the marketing team

Some advocate for sales ownership, due to their direct customer interactions and deal-closing expertise. Others think that marketing should take the lead, as they leverage their skills in lead generation, nurturing, and brand positioning.

Understanding revenue and pipeline ownership

Before we go into the intricacies of revenue and pipeline ownership, it's crucial to establish a clear understanding of these concepts.

The definition of revenue ownership

Revenue ownership refers to the responsibility and accountability for driving revenue growth and closing deals within an organization. The team or department that owns revenue is tasked with nurturing leads, engaging in sales negotiations, and ultimately converting prospects into paying customers.

To do this, you need to understand your target market, create buyer personas, and address customers’ needs and unique pain points to tailor your approach, build rapport, and guide prospects through the buyer’s journey. 

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Revenue ownership also means setting and achieving revenue targets that align with your organization’s overall growth objectives. This means tracking and forecasting sales performance, identifying potential roadblocks or opportunities for optimization, and implementing strategies for consistent revenue growth. 

Definition of pipeline ownership

Pipeline ownership, on the other hand, focuses on managing and nurturing leads throughout the stages of the sales funnel. 

Whoever’s responsible for this in your company needs to build and maintain a robust lead pipeline to ensure there’s a steady flow of leads for the sales team to engage with. 

So, how do you achieve this? You need to continuously replenish your funnel through various lead-gen tactics like content marketing, social media campaigns, and targeted advertising

But effective pipeline management goes beyond just filling the funnel; it involves nurturing leads with targeted content as they go through the various funnel stages, personalized communication, and strategic follow-up to move prospects forward in their buyer’s journey and increase the chances of conversion.

Revenue and pipeline ownership: The case for sales

Let’s be honest, many people in the business world see sales as the driving force behind revenue growth and a functional sales pipeline. They’re typically the ones with the upfront roles, having face-to-face chats, making phone calls, and taking control of deals.

Direct customer interactions and deal negotiations

Sales reps are at the forefront of customer interactions. They’re seen as having the persuasion skills necessary for top-tier negotiations that seal the deal and meet revenue targets.

The space for direct contact allows sales teams to really understand what customers need, the issues they face, and how they make decisions, which helps them navigate complex deal negotiations and, ultimately, secure customer commitments.

Closing deals and hitting targets

The sales team’s main gig is converting leads into paying customers. With training and real-world experience, they’re pros when it comes to identifying and capitalizing on opportunities to sell. 

They tackle objections, address concerns, and create compelling value propositions tailored to each prospect's unique needs. This expertise positions sales teams to consistently meet or beat those revenue targets.

The benefits of sales ownership

Those who advocate sales owning revenue and pipeline argue that because of their deep understanding of the sales process and the customer journey, they’re best equipped to manage the pipeline effectively.

When the sales team takes ownership of the pipeline, there’s a seamless transition from the marketing-driven lead generation and nurturing efforts: Sales reps can pick up where marketing left off, ensuring a smooth ride and cohesive customer experience throughout the entire buyer's journey – from initial interest to closing the deal.

Taking charge of the pipeline lets the sales team sync up lead management and nurturing with their overarching sales strategies and processes. This alignment means that prospects get the appropriate level of attention and follow-up they need at every stage of the funnel, which can increase the likelihood of successful conversions.

Revenue and pipeline ownership: The case for marketing

Marketing isn’t just about brand awareness anymore. Modern marketing teams consistently generate leads as well as revenue. They leverage data-driven insights, craft targeted campaigns, and dish out personalized content to nurture leads and drive conversions. 

Lead generation and nurturing

Marketing teams excel at attracting and nurturing leads, whether it’s creating unparalleled content, social media campaigns, email marketing, or meticulously crafted and targeted ads to capture customers’ attention and guide them through the buyer’s journey. 

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Inbound marketing and content creation

Inbound marketing is a powerful tool for attracting and engaging prospects. Marketers create valuable, engaging, and relevant content like blog posts, reports, webinars, podcasts, videos, and a whole load of social updates

Of course, this attracts leads and raises awareness, but it also establishes thought leadership, builds trust, nurtures leads, and drives prospects through the sales funnel.

The benefits of marketing ownership

Marketing teams are the ones making the first moves with customers. They’re the initial points of contact, engaging them through the awareness, consideration, decision, and advocacy stages through awareness campaigns and lead-gen tactics.

This work lays the groundwork for a solid customer relationship and shapes the perceptions and expectations of the brand in the minds of the customer. 

Taking charge of the pipeline lets marketing teams keep the rhythm consistent, showing the brand as flawless throughout the entire customer journey. This consistency reinforces the company's value proposition, builds trust, and enhances the overall customer experience, ultimately increasing the chances of successful conversions.

A collaborative approach: The benefits of shared revenue and pipeline ownership

While the debate between sales and marketing ownership rages on, many forward-thinking organizations are embracing a collaborative approach that leverages the strengths of both teams.

This symbiotic relationship holds the key to driving revenue growth and optimizing the sales pipeline.

RMA's marketing and sales alignment playbook

Traditionally, sales and marketing departments operated in isolated silos with limited communication and collaboration. However, a shared ownership model breaks down these barriers, creating a culture where cross-functional alignment and collaboration become the norm. 

When sales and marketing join forces it benefits the activities and strategies of both teams, as well as the wider organization. Collaborative efforts like joint planning sessions, shared goals, and open communication, enable sales and marketing to leverage their collective strengths effectively and align better to enhance efficiency

A key aspect of shared ownership lies in aligning goals and metrics between sales and marketing. By establishing shared key performance indicators (KPIs) and regularly reviewing progress, both teams can work towards common objectives and measure success holistically. This alignment coordinates efforts and optimizes resources for maximum impact. 

With seamless cross-functional collaboration, perfectly aligned teams increase efficiency throughout the customer journey – from initial brand awareness to post-purchase support.

By taking a collaborative approach to revenue and pipeline ownership, sales and marketing teams can harness their respective expertise to maximize growth and deliver a superior customer experience.

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Key strategies to foster a collaborative culture between sales and marketing

Now, let’s talk strategy. Implementing a shared ownership model requires a strategic approach and a willingness to embrace change.

Clearly defined roles and responsibilities

While collaboration is key, shared ownership is a team sport, so each of your players needs their defined roles and responsibilities within this collaborative model.

This clarity ensures accountability and prevents duplication of efforts or gaps in the customer journey.

Integrated systems and data sharing

To foster seamless collaboration, organizations need to invest in integrated systems and processes that enable data sharing and transparency between sales and marketing

Customer relationship management (CRM) systems, marketing automation platforms, and analytics tools can provide a single source of truth, enabling both teams to access and leverage the same customer data.

Regular communication and feedback loops

Ongoing communication and feedback loops between sales and marketing are crucial for the success of a shared ownership model. 

Think about things like: 

  • Regular meetings
  • Cross-functional training sessions
  • Open channels for sharing insights and best practices.

These can go a long way in helping align strategies, identifying areas for improvement, and driving continuous optimization.

Consistent brand experience

By working together, sales and marketing can provide a consistent brand experience throughout the entire customer journey.

This consistency builds trust, reinforces the company’s value proposition, and creates a seamless transition for prospects as they move from consideration to purchase.

Deep customer understanding

Collaboration is more than just a buzzword here. It works to foster a deeper understanding of the customer's needs and pain points.

By openly sharing insights and data, both teams gain a 360-degree view of the buyer's journey, enabling them to tailor their strategies and tactics to meet the specific needs of each prospect with precision.

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Shared accountability and goal alignment

A collaborative approach creates a sense of responsibility; shared accountability and alignment of goals. 

With joint KPIs and regular progress check-ins, sales and marketing teams become unified in their pursuit of revenue growth. 

The result? Coordinated efforts and optimized resources, all aimed at a common target. 

Continuous innovation

Effective collaboration facilitates the free flow of ideas and best practices. Through regular communication and cross-functional training, sales and marketing teams can share their unique perspectives – open channels for ideas and best practices – learn from each other's experiences, and collectively identify opportunities for improvement.

By breaking down silos and embracing a collaborative mindset, organizations can unlock the true potential of their sales and marketing teams, deliver an exceptional buyer's journey, and drive sustained revenue growth.

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Closing thoughts

At the end of the day, the battle between sales and marketing ownership of revenue and pipeline is a never-ending tug-of-war. But progressive organizations are realizing that the true path to success lies in breaking down silos and fostering a collaborative culture.

When sales and marketing teams join forces, leveraging their respective strengths and aligning their efforts, they create a powerhouse that delivers an exceptional customer experience from start to finish. 

A seamless, unified approach is the key to unlocking sustained revenue growth and maximizing the potential of your sales pipeline.

It's time to put an end to the ownership debate and embrace the synergy of collaboration. After all, teamwork makes the dream work.

Psst… Now's your chance to influence the most important conversations in revenue marketing

Our comprehensive 2024 Customer Acquisition and Marketing Attribution Survey will reveal the inner workings of today's state-of-the-art revenue engines.

This is your exclusive opportunity to shed light on:

  • Current marketing attribution challenges
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… And a whole lot more.

To sweeten the deal: Complete the survey to receive a free Customer Journey framework slide deck to help you and your team acquire more customers with less stress! 👇

RMA's customer acquisition and marketing attribution survey 2024

Written by:

Stevie Langford

Stevie Langford

As a Senior Copywriter here at Revenue Marketing Alliance, Stevie loves to create content that's captivating, compelling, and informative. She's always open to new ideas, so feel free to get in touch!

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Revenue and pipeline ownership: Sales vs. marketing