Sales and marketing SLAs are essentially a contract between the two teams on how leads will be managed through the entire sales funnel. According to the HubSpot State of Inbound 2018, 65% of marketers whose companies have a sales & marketing SLA see a higher return on investment from their inbound marketing efforts. However, only 26% of respondents actually operate under an SLA.
Those that have an SLA are also more likely to have a need to grow their sales team to keep up with demand, and they typically have growing inbound budgets. If you think your company is headed for sales growth, a sales and marketing SLA should be in your future. Here’s why SLAs are a must.
SLAs Define Alignment
Sales and marketing teams perspectives tend to be different because they collect and digest information differently. These differences can lead to disagreements, disconnection, or simple misunderstandings. SLAs are a must-have because they alleviate these issues by establishing a baseline for your teams’ language through shared definitions, like the following.
- Customer personas – Sales may not have even utilized personas before this process. We guarantee, though, they’d be able to explain the details of the customers they prefer to speak with. Have marketing and sales use a combination of data and direct feedback to create a more clear picture than ever of your ideal customers.
- Funnel & customer journeys – Chances are, both of your teams are using some kind of a funnel. They are probably focused on very different stages and outcomes, though. Combine everything into a single funnel with lead stages assigned appropriately.
- Lead/MQL/SQL – What’s the difference between a lead, an MQL, and an SQL? What are the criteria for defining each? Setting up lead scorning criteria together can help collaboratively define the terms.
- Handoff point – One of the most important pieces of the alignment puzzle is the lead handoff. This is a defined point in the customer journey when marketing has done their part and it is time for sales to take over. Lead scoring can help here by setting the trigger point for the handoff, but no matter how you do it, make sure everyone understands and agrees on when.
SLAs Set Goals
Misaligned sales and marketing teams are typically hard-working and dedicated; they are just working hard toward very different goals. A lack of visibility into the other team’s focus and goals can actually lead to conflicting efforts, i.e. – Marketing is testing a price increase, but Sales is pushing for discounts. Having an SLA in place will calibrate your expectations on goals between teams.
Establishing shared goals will allow your teams to start working in the same direction. Here are a few things to keep in mind when creating your goals.
- Numerical/revenue goals – It’s fine to have a couple of soft goals, but most of your goals should be hard numbers tied to revenue and easily trackable. [Click here for a SMART Goals Template.]
- Time-driven goals – When would you like to accomplish your goals? Aim for both short and long-term goals. Then, establish a rhythm of when progress will be reviewed, and be open to the idea that goals may need to be adjusted as everything is established.
SLAs Build Transparency and Accountability
One of the biggest reasons you need a sales and marketing SLA is its ability to address misunderstandings on team functions and contributions perpetuated by the absence of transparency. Laying out goals and roles in a shared SLA allows everyone to know who is responsible for what.”Marketing does X, then Sales does Y.” Having an SLA in place eliminates the, “I didn’t know”s and the, “I thought that was his job”s.
Additionally, an SLA provides structure around how each person and team will contribute directly to the goals. Built into your sales and marketing SLA will be predetermined ways to measure this success or failure. Support these definitions with clear tracking metrics and reporting systems accessible to everybody involved.
This allows everyone to understand exactly how they contribute to their own personal goals, and how those goals contribute to the overall efforts of the alignment. It also allows them to see how others contribute and compare their own efforts to those of others on their team.
This level of understanding, transparency, and acceptance of responsibility allows you to have buy-in and accountability from every angle.
SLAs Encourage Commitment
People tend to feel more connected to something they help create. The individual contributors on your teams should be included in the process of creating the SLA and everything that goes into it. Including them will establish buy-in from the very beginning. These individuals also have the most accurate information to bring to the table because they are the ones doing the work day-to-day. You can combine all of their experiences and feedback to create the most accurate agreement.
Furthermore, each individual and team is more likely to adhere to their specific accountabilities and goals because they are publically set and agreed upon by everybody. People are, in general, less likely to stray from their responsibilities when everybody will know if they fail. Essentially, peer pressure will work in your favor when it comes to SLAs.