Service Level Agreements Marketing and Sales
Why is alignment important between marketing and sales? Without the right dynamic between the two teams, there could be conflict, confusion, and a lot of effort going to waste.
There are a number of common contentions between these often rival departments. Marketers will often complain that the sales team is wasting the leads they have generated. The salespeople, on the other hand, complain that they get poor quality or a low number of leads from the marketing team.
Tools for SLA Success
During a co-webinar with ActiveDEMAND, our CEO, JP Werlin, and ActiveDEMAND CEO, Sean Leonard, delved into sales and marketing alignment and with that — the importance of the SLA. Watch the webinar here.
Besides the webinar, we’ve got another great tool for you. As this post suggests, a great way for you and your teams to gain alignment is to hunker down and draft a service level agreement (SLA). First, read our blog post. Know more about what the SLA is, why it is important and how you can draft one. Then download an SLA guide and workbook as well as an SLA we’ve utilized at PipelineDeals in the past. The downloadable guide and sample are located toward the end of this post. Okay, let’s get started on your SLA journey!
SLA Fundamentals: What You Should Know
What is the service level agreement?
A service level agreement (SLA) traditionally defines what a customer should receive from a service provider. However, it could also play a crucial role in internal operations, especially for sales and marketing teams.
The simplest definition of a service level agreement is a contract establishing the set of services that one party should deliver to another.
Definition of Sales and Marketing Service Level Agreement
Why is SLA the Key for Sales and Marketing Alignment?
Having an aligned marketing and sales team means having the two parties working towards a common goal with each party understanding the role they need to play to achieve that goal. Therefore, for both teams, the aim of the SLA is to encourage the two teams to support each other on the basis of specific, numerical goals.
Let’s take this example into consideration. What if the two teams together have an objective of generating $2 million in new sales. They’ll need to think about
- How many leads should the marketing team generate for the sales team?
- What strategy will they use to generate these leads?
- How will the sales department follow up on the leads and close deals to reach the overall objective?
What does an SLA consist of?
1. Agreement Summary
2. Shared Goals
If at all the two departments are to enjoy collaborative cooperation and fruitful communication, they need to define their common goals. This will allow everyone involved to be clear on their expectations. It will also serve to steer the teams in the right direction as they strive to achieve the goals.
Remember that in a business setting, the best goals are tied to hard numbers and this, in turn, translates to actual financial growth if and when the goals are realized.
3. The Roles of Both Teams in Meeting the Goals
4. What do the two teams need?
The agreement should also outline what the two teams need to reach their goals. Writing this down on paper will eliminate the tendency to assign blame when things go awry. For example, the marketing department might need frequent updates on the state of the sales pipeline. This would assist them to adjust their efforts accordingly to generate more or higher quality leads.
One example would be the tools the teams need. In a recent blog post, we took a look at how ActiveDEMAND marketing automation software integrates with PipelineDeals CRM.
5. Teams’ Points of Contact
6. Consequences for Failure to Meet Goals
7. SLA Cancellation Terms
Equally important is defining the terms for contract cancellation, especially in cases where it is simply not working. An example of such a scenario is the failure to meet stipulated goals for three consecutive months. It can also be canceled if the people involved do not fully agree with it.
The aim of cancellation should be to come up with a better SLA which will hold a higher likelihood of success.
Importance of an SLA for Marketing and Sales Teams
1. More Effective Strategies
2. Bridging the Gap Between Sales and Marketing
3. Higher ROI
4. Better Monitoring and Oversight
Working together under the terms of an SLA requires a lot of tracking and evaluation along the way using a reliable reporting system. By constantly monitoring performance, teams are incentivized to increase their efforts and channel them in the right direction. They are better able to know when a strategy works or fails and adjust when necessary. On the flip side, teams that work without such monitoring in place are often disconnected.
How to Create an SLA for your Sales and Marketing Teams
1. Bring Everyone to the Table
The most important first step is to have everyone involved on the same page. Listen to the stakeholders on both sides and put all the details of the agreement down in writing. You also need to make sure that the two teams are using the same approach for lead scoring.
Next, define the target leads to ease a common point of tension between the two teams. Have everyone agree on the kind of leads to target. Align the processes of both sides because the two are inextricably linked. This should involve the process for handing over leads from marketing to sales and back again when necessary.