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Jared Harris
July, 13, 2018

How an SLA Can Transform the Way Sales and Marketing Work Together

What do you think of when we mention sales and marketing? Whatever image just crossed your mind, we’re willing to bet it wasn’t pretty. The historic divide between sales and marketing is no secret - it’s as old as business itself.

We can just hear the voices of your sales team at the water cooler: “Marketing is just a glorified art department. They keep bringing in leads that don’t go anywhere.”

And on the other side of the office, your marketing team is whispering, “We work hard to get all of these leads - sales loses them and blames us!”

Enough is enough! Tension across your team isn’t productive, and it’s time for it to stop. This tension is the reason your team needs an SLA.

What’s the Root of the Problem?

If pressed, you could probably get your sales and marketing teams to admit that the problem isn’t 100% the other team’s fault, even if they are at the end of their wits with frustration.

The problem comes from having two divided teams that don’t communicate with one another. Without agreed-upon goals, definitions, and defined roles for each team, it’s impossible for them to work together as efficiently as they’re capable of.

This miscommunication results in tension, grudges, anger - and dropped leads. It’s bad for office morale, it’s bad for your business, and it’s time to make a change.

What’s an SLA?

SLA stands for Service Level Agreement. In simple terms, this is an agreement drawn up between your marketing and sales departments. It serves to align the departments on your company’s goals and the roles each team will be responsible for. An SLA brings both sides to the table and ensures everyone agrees on specific goals and responsibilities. There are several important pieces to an SLA.

Definitions

When expectations and definitions are vague, there is a lot of room for interpretation, which can lead to conflict. Often, sales becomes frustrated with marketing because the leads they are provided with aren’t actually sales qualified, but think about it - does marketing know that? If your marketing and sales departments have two different ideas of what a good lead looks like, you’ll struggle to ever close sales.

Take the time to align your teams on the things that might seem obvious, but aren’t. This will include things like your personas (who are your ideal customers?), what a marketing qualified lead looks like, and what a sales qualified lead looks like. Agreeing on these basic terms will ensure alignment throughout the process.

Goals

Ultimately, your sales and marketing teams should be working toward a common goal: your company’s revenue target. What is that goal - and how can both teams support it? Once you know your goal, you can work backward to decide how you’re going to reach it.

How many customers does your sales team need to close to reach your revenue goal? How many SQLs must be passed to sales for them to close that many customers? How many MQLs must be nurtured in order to generate that many SQLs?

Much of this will be based off of historic data; remember that no matter how good you are, you will never convert 100% of your initial leads into customers. Take a look at your past data and see what you can expect your conversion percentages to be and come up with concrete, agreed-upon goals.

Roles and Responsibilities

Once you've clarified your definitions and you know what your goals are, it's time to decide how you're going to meet those goals. How are you going to lead your prospects through the buyer's journey and close sales? Think about the multiple touch points required to make a sale, and ensure everyone understands whose responsibility it is to follow through with these. Once again, it's important not to assume that everyone is on the same page; an SLA requires that you document the roles and responsibilities of your sales and marketing teams in order to keep everyone aligned.

Reporting

No strategy is worth anything if you don’t measure your progress and continue to adapt. You must have ways of measuring your agreed-upon metrics, and there must be transparency and communication across teams. If one team isn’t meeting their goals, why? What needs to be addressed and what can be adapted? Agreeing on reporting metrics and measuring them often will continue the alignment between your teams. 

So What’s the Big Deal?

Okay, so now you know what it is. Why do you need it?

An SLA helps sales and marketing to see themselves not as divided entities, but as one team working together toward a common goal. Not only does it unite them, but it helps them to speak the same language. They will have a thorough understanding of their own roles, but they will also be more equipped to help one another to reach your revenue goal.

It all comes back to strategy. Random marketing and sales tactics are inefficient, but creating a strategy specific to your company will help you excel. At New Perspective, we’re strong believers in strategy. We think that a documented strategy based on your customers and your team is the most effective way to reach your goals and help your prospects. Are you ready to build your marketing strategy? Download your strategic planning kit; it includes everything you need to build a strong strategy that will help your team meet your goals.

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