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      7 Steps to Create Service Level Agreements to Align Sales and Marketing

      May 11, 2021

      4 minute read

      Almost all businesses across industries witness the low-key rivalry between sales and marketing.

      On one hand, your sales team might feel like marketing isn’t generating enough quality leads, while your marketing team might believe that sales isn’t working on the forwarded leads effectively.

      This misalignment can slow your company’s growth. The solution lies in the alignment we call – smarketing.

      Sadly, most of this smarketing talk is theory and not actually applied.

      To get the two to shake hands – Service Level Agreements (SLAs) are the way to go.


      Let’s understand all about SLAs and how you can use them for better collaboration and ROI.

      What is a Service Level Agreement?

      An SLA is a contract establishing the set of services that one party should deliver to another. There are three types of SLAs, including:

      1. Customer-based SLA: This agreement is specific for an individual client or a group and is offered for all the products or services they use.

      2. Service-based SLA: This agreement defines a standard for support or service that’s guaranteed to all customers using a specific service or product.

      3. Multi-level SLA: This agreement is much more complex and generally splits into varying levels in the same SLA, with each focused on a different set of customers for identical services.

      What is a ‘Smarketing’ SLA?

      SLAs can also be internal. An SLA between sales and marketing teams defines what each team is accountable for. It is all about setting agreed-upon expectations that align with a common goal. With a well-defined SLA, the two teams can spend less time opposing each other and more time achieving goals.

      Here are some key components that must be present in your SLA:

      • An agreement summary
      • The common goals
      • The roles of both teams in meeting the specified goals
      • The teams’ main points of contact for reporting and addressing concerns
      • Consequences for failing to meet the objectives and goals
      • Cancellation terms

      Why are SLAs Important?

      While creating SLAs can sure seem daunting, the result is worthwhile. According to a report, 65% of businesses that have a tightly-aligned SLA achieve higher ROI from their inbound marketing efforts. In fact, 87% of sales and marketing leaders state that alignment between sales and marketing warrants business growth.

      Not just that, it also helps:

      • Promote a collaborative work culture
      • Bridge the gap between sales and marketing
      • Improve team productivity
      • Effectively engage the buyer
      • Exceed revenue goals

      7 Steps for Effective Sales and Marketing SLAs

      We agree, it’s not easy to align these two teams together but with the right processes, alignment is possible. This is why we’ve compiled 7-steps that you must follow to effectively create sales and marketing SLAs. They are.


      1. Define Your Buyer Personas

      As with everything else in your demand generation strategy, your SLA should start by clearly defining and communicating the criteria for who your target audience is. For better alignment, both teams should work together on creating personas or if you already have them in place, you can revisit them together. You can get insights from your data in the MarTech stack for insights about existing customers so that you know what your customer wants and how your business can help with it.

      2. Speak a Common Language

      Get both the teams to define what a lead is, and, further, to define each stage of an organization’s funnel. You must clearly define:

      • Who is a contact?
      • Who is a lead?
      • Who is a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL)?
      • Who is a Sales Qualified Lead (SQL)?
      • What are the stages of the sales and marketing process?

      Once you are on the same page on how you define essential terms, your processes can be aligned.

      3. Set Clear Goals

      To set the right goals, look back at what your respective teams have successfully achieved in the past.

      The marketing team should be assigned goals around lead generation and can include:

      • Number of leads generated
      • Number of qualified leads generated
      • Total contribution to revenue pipeline

      SLAs for the sales team focus on lead and opportunity management and can include:

      • Qualifying leads
      • Converting leads
      • Creating opportunities
      • Following up on leads and opportunities

      4. Define Hand-off

      After you’ve educated your leads with all your marketing jazz, your products, and services through emails or social channels, and they are ready to graduate from MQLs to SQLs, go with the agreed-upon lead definitions you built for your MQL or SQL to clearly define the stage when an MQL becomes an SQL and what steps should marketing take to ensure sales get ‘hot leads’ are positioned to succeed.

      5. Manage Your Leads

      Clearly establish when and how often should teams communicate with the leads. Both teams should have a detailed plan in place for moving the leads through the funnel. Also, incorporate closed-loop reporting where sales should report to marketing why leads were accepted or rejected.

      6. Track, Measure, and Analyze Your Key Metrics

      Your SLA should define the key performance indicators that everybody will use to assess the progress and effectiveness of your demand generation processes. Tracking will highlight issues or opportunities so that improvement can be made.

      7. Determine Your SLA Review Process

      Just like everything else, SLA’s can’t have a ‘set it and forget it’ approach. You need to consistently work upon improvement. Determine a period of time when you will conduct a comprehensive review of the processes and targets laid out in your SLA. Usually, a review of the SLAs every quarter or six months is good enough.

      With SLAs, you can knock down the silos to create clarity and real alignment between your sales and marketing teams.

      Want to get your smarketing team ready? Talk to us!

      Our smarketing ninjas can sketch out the right SLAs for you. Just drop us a line at [email protected] and we’ll take it from there.

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