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Salespeople are more likely to believe that leads sourced directly from sales are the top source of leads for their organization than leads from marketing. So say sales respondents to HubSpot’s latest annual State of Inbound report, which gathered the opinions of more than 6,200 marketers and salespeople around the world during the first quarter of the year.

While salespeople surveyed for the report in the aggregate saw the sales organization as the top source of leads, that wasn’t true for all respondents.

When segregating respondents by sales and marketing relationship, a different picture emerged. Respondents who identified their sales and marketing alignment as tightly aligned and/or with a service level agreement (SLA) actually were more likely to say that leads from marketing (39% share) are the top source of leads for their organization than leads directly sourced by sales. By contrast, those operating in companies with less alignment believed that marketing was the least effective at sourcing leads, behind leads directly sourced by sales and behind referrals too.

In fact, salespeople in companies with tight marketing and sales alignment saw marketing as their top source of leads overall.

These salespeople’s recognition of marketing’s value in sourcing leads is important, given that salespeople often have a dim view of marketing’s role in delivering quality leads to sales. One study of B2B marketers last year found that 61% of marketers felt their team was competent at delivering reasonable numbers of qualified sales opportunities, but “just one-third (34%) of salespeople agreed.

The presence of a service-level agreement (SLA) can also help both functions communicate and agree on metrics. Recent research has identified communication and different metrics as two key challenges to marketing and sales alignment.

Meanwhile, other results from HubSpot’s report also support the importance of tight alignment between marketing and sales. For example, 85% of marketers with SLAs believe their strategy is effective, while just 24% of marketers who are misaligned with sales feel the same way about their strategy.

Furthermore, respondents with an SLA are most likely to report growing their sales team, and also are more likely than average to report that marketing teams are enjoying higher inbound marketing budgets this year than last.

The trouble? While many (47%) say that their sales marketing teams are “generally aligned,” only one-quarter (26%) are tightly aligned and operating under a marketing and sales SLA.

The full report is available to download here.

About the Data: The report is based on a survey of more than 6,200 respondents from 99 countries, primarily in the Latin American (36%) and Europe, Middle East, and Africa (28%) regions. A minority (43%) are HubSpot customers, while a majority (55%) primarily sell to other businesses. Respondents represented a variety of industries, company sizes and levels of seniority.

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