Passing the Baton: The Art of a Good Transition Across Teams

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October 11, 2022

4 mins read

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Passing the Baton: The Art of a Good Transition Across Teams

Please note: the takeaways shared in this piece are an amalgamation of the experiences collected during Grant’s prior roles. Join him in looking back at the lessons learned that have become tried and true tactics to succeed in aligning sales and marketing teams. 

We like to think that if we supercharge our marketing or sales orgs, that it’ll lead to immediate and overwhelming success. And it would be great if that were true one hundred percent of the time, but it’s not. Case in point: Canada winning the ‘96 Olympic gold medal in the men’s 4×100 meter relay. 

When you add up the split times of the four runners on the Canadian relay team, they should’ve finished somewhere in the middle of the pack. But the teams with the four fastest runners only win the race about twenty-five percent of the time, because when you’re competing at the highest levels of competition, everyone is fast, and the difference between winning and losing usually comes down to the team’s performance in the hand-off and transition zones.

One major takeaway from my experience in B2B, having worked on business development teams that reported to a company’s Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) and teams that reported to a company’s Chief Revenue Officer (CRO), it doesn’t matter where or to whom you report. What matters is that you are aligned to both, and serve as a medium to unite sales and marketing to each other. 

You can have great marketing, business development, and sales teams, but if you don’t have smooth hand-offs and transitions from one team to the next, you won’t do right by your customers and will lose a lot of speed in the race.

In aligning marketing and sales teams, there are a few basic elements that are integral to passing the baton in a way that sets up the next team member to succeed. 


  • Volume of marketing generated leads
  • Quality of leads meeting or surpassing an established threshold
    • Contact information: name, company, email, phone number (bonus points for cell phone number), etc.
    • What the lead has engaged with: tradeshow, webinar, whitepaper, contact us form, etc

This is all information that can be used to calculate a qualitative score so we can see if the leads that marketing is generating are, generally, performing above or below expectations. One of the keys in establishing this qualitative score is agreement between the marketing and BDR teams; otherwise, there can be a breakdown in trust from the business development-side that the lead scores they are being presented are accurate.


  • Speed-to-lead: Reaching out with various levels of urgency depending on the lead’s tier or quality score
    • Ranging from less than ten minutes for tier one leads, to roughly an hour for less highly qualified leads
  • Number of touches (x number of phone calls, emails, and other touches within a certain time period)

Marketing teams do a lot of research and spend a lot of money acquiring leads for business development reps, so it is the BDR team’s responsibility to be good custodians of those leads by giving each lead multiple opportunities to establish a connection once they’ve shown interest (and not by spamming them).


  • Meetings set (qualified opportunities)
    • Including: (1) The agreement from the lead to speak with a sales representative (AE), (2) the identification of a goal for the lead or account, (3) the identification of a problem or need, and (4) the inclusion of all background notes from the BDR’s conversation with the lead in Salesforce

On my teams, we established that if these criteria are met, the AE has to take the call that the BDR set up. And if after the call there is something that warrants another conversation or more prospecting, it moves on from a marketing qualified opportunity to a sales accepted opportunity.


  • Accept the meeting with the lead handed-off by the BDR team
  • Accept or decline the opportunity within twenty-four to forty-eight hours of the meeting
    • If additional conversations and prospecting is warranted (and the lead is accepted): Convert lead to a sales accepted opportunity
    • If lead is rejected: Provide the context on why they were rejected so the BDR can review the feedback and discuss it with the marketing team

Comparing the baton pass among marketing, business development, and sales teams to relays might seem odd to an outsider, but marketers and reps across the sales organization are all too familiar with the race to meet quotas and progressing customers around the proverbial track to the finish line. Fortunately, we don’t have to jump into strenuous training to get ready for our own sprints –– we can create agreements, review results, and continually adapt to help our GTM teams crawl, walk, and then run.

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Grant Smith

Former SVP of Business Development , Pluralsight

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