Corporate sales and marketing executives agree that at least 50% of their sales effort and 50% of their lead generation budget is wasted on leads that are never contacted, according to a survey at Dreamforce by Conversica, the leading provider of lead engagement software for marketing, inside sales and sales.

The most significant reasons identified by sales were poor quality leads (37%) and leads that were too hard to reach (41%). On the other side of the divide, well over a third of marketers surveyed (39%) feel that, despite the large investment in time by sales, only a quarter of their leads are being followed up. Asked why, 30% of marketers said that not enough attempts are being made to reach those leads, or salespeople aren’t reaching out soon enough. As a result, half the marketing respondents feel their lead generation budget is being wasted.

“These are disappointing statistics,” indicated Alex Terry, CEO of Conversica. “Despite all the emphasis being placed on sales+marketing alignment today, that alignment obviously remains elusive and frustrating. Our survey found, as we suspected, that lead engagement is clearly at the heart of the problem.”

Conversica presented a session entitled, “Smarketing: The New Sales-Marketing Alignment Driven by Artificial Intelligence” at the Dreamforce Partner Theater. It offered best practices for companies to get past the traditional finger pointing over lead quality and close the gap between sales and marketing teams, to increase sales efficiency and to drive more qualified leads. A recorded version is available at http://con.ai/df15-smarketing-video.

The study certainly supported the need for “Smarketing,” finding that the vast majority of sales (80%) and marketing (70%) executives agree their teams were still not well aligned—with one in five saying they were “poorly” aligned. Leads are indeed the culprit with nearly half of the sales (43%) and marketing (46%) executives indicating they were “extremely” important in terms of creating alignment.

Asked how they expected to solve this problem, both factions (80%) said investing in sales or marketing automation tools was their highest priority for improving lead engagement.

“While it’s nice to see the two departments trying to agree on a solution, pure automation is not the answer to improving marketing’s ROI and helping sales reach more leads,” concludes Terry, whose company provides virtual sales assistants that ensure every single lead is contacted. “It’s just going to increase the frustration. If sales are going to reach more leads, they need more than assistance, they need assistants. That’s where we come in.”