Have you ever noticed that despite being separate departments, sales and marketing is called, sales AND marketing? (not Sales OR Marketing). The two go hand in hand, or at least they should. But that’s not always the case however, alignment can only be achieved through detailed continuation and effort to ensure everyone is on the same page.
In order to help achieve harmony among client-facing teams, Lake One implements a Service Level Agreement (SLA). By Definition, the SLA is an agreement between our client’s sales team and Lake One marketing on the lead management and lead qualification process. It helps drive sales and marketing alignment. Read on to learn about how to build an SLA using these 7 key components.
Goals & Objectives
We are a big fan of goals (and you should be too), so it’s no surprise that the first step in building our SLA kicks off by stating the goals and objectives of the SLA.
The purpose of our SLA is to ensure that the proper elements and commitments are in place to facilitate a flow and acceptance of marketing qualified leads to sales.
The goal of our Agreement is to obtain mutual agreement for the lead qualification criteria and lead handling between the Marketing department and the Sales department.
The objectives of this Agreement are to:
- Provide clear reference to lead ownership, accountability, roles, and/or responsibilities.
- Present a clear, concise, and measurable description of lead qualification, acceptance, disqualification, and nurture.
- Match perceptions of expected lead quality with actual lead quality and delivery.
Clearly Defined Roles
A plan and an agreement are a great place to start, but if you don’t know who’s on first, it can leave you scrambling when it comes time to actually execute. Roles and responsibilities are broken down into two groups:
- Generate leads
- Score & qualify leads
- Nurture leads & contacts
- Handoff qualified leads to sales
- Accepts/rejects MQLs
- Actively manages lifecycle stages/opportunities and lead statuses
- Wins Deals
The final component in building SLA roles is assigning key stakeholders to oversee the process and teams: one person from sales, one person from marketing. The above is a complete and total team effort, but listing out key stakeholders gives the team a point of contact and holds parties accountable.
Curious about what else Lake One has to offer? Read this post to learn more about what makes us tick.
Lead Qualification Strategy
If the leads marketing is generating don’t match the expectations of the sales team, it won’t benefit anyone. In fact, this is how inbound strategies fail. In order for marketing to be generating leads that the sales team will get excited about, everyone needs to be on the same page of what a qualified lead actually is.
So in order to start nailing down lead qualification, we ask questions such as:
- What engagements signal leads are ready to talk to sales? (think completed forms, user actions, etc.)
- What requirements do all leads need to meet based on your ideal buyer profile? (industry, organization size, role/title, etc…)
From there, we actually build what we call a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) List. The list serves a dual purpose and plays a major part in the process in finalizing what will constitute a lead as well as how you’ll track them going forward. Once the list is created, we can also take a look at historical data – like how many MQLs are there to date – and set benchmarks off of the new definition for goal setting.
What will the SLA accomplish? This is best stated in SMART goal format. In case you need a little refresher, see below.
Specific: For the SLA, goals will likely fall into three buckets – marketing lead volume, lead flow, and a lead management/sales process goal. We always recommend hitting all three as they cover the major components of the Agreement.
Measurable: Here’s an area where the MQL List becomes very important. It’s a clear way to track how many MQLs marketing is able to deliver and when.
Attainable: Be realistic with expectations, but don’t sell yourself short either. The beauty of the SLA is that both Sales and Marketing will be on the same page on what is achievable.
Relevant: Relevance is a great gut check in making sure your SLA goals align with the client’s company goals.
We use industry jargon and marketing terminology so often that it is important to define key terms so everyone is using them the same way. We focus our definitions on two main categories: lead status and lifecycle stages.
According to HubSpot, lifecycle stage indicates where a contact or company is in your marketing/sales funnel (subscriber, lead, MQL, etc…). Lead status indicates where a contact or company is within a buying cycle as a lead (New, Unqualified, Open Deal, etc…).
Just because a lead checks off the boxes and becomes an MQL, doesn’t mean that the lead will convert to a customer. An integral part of the living breathing document that is an SLA, is lead rejection. Just as Marketing sends the MQLs, sales, in turn, communicates back through Lead Status and Lifecylce stage, or for the leads that aren’t so hot, lead rejection.
In our process, lead rejection is defined and agreed upon by both parties and typically results in a form field selection in the CRM.
Sign on the Dotted Line
The final and most critical stage in our process is a signature. It’s not necessarily a signature in the actual sense, but more of what it represents: an agreement of both parties on all of the above! Alignment is impossible without it.
We do have to add that once you have an SLA in place, it should be reviewed, tracked, and measured against, evolving as needed with the growth of the company. And not to mention, the SLA is a component of achieving sales and marketing alignment, but not the only component. Are you ready to discuss how Lake One could help enable your sales teams and help you achieve sales and marketing alignment? Contact us.