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Sales Enablement  |  
5 minute read

Why You Should Create a Service Level Agreement Between Marketing and Sales

Written by Matt Tomlinson

12 | 02 | 19

For a company that has true ambitions of sustainable growth, the alignment of their sales and marketing efforts is absolutely crucial. Organisations that have already made the transition and aligned the two departments are seeing measurable results internally and externally. The business as a whole is working more sustainably and overall, their bottom line is increasing all the time.

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Cultural and regulation changes can spike improvements in results in the short term. But a service level agreement (SLA) between marketing and sales can have a better impact. Here’s why.

Improves Relationships Between Sales and Marketing Teams

Generally speaking, the relationship between marketing and sales in a lot of companies can be intense and in some cases, hostile. This isn’t beneficial for either department to achieve the goals that they set out to and also, the overall business won’t benefit from the two pulling in opposite directions either.

Sales teams blame the marketing departments for not producing enough quality and impactful content that can help generate enough quality leads or a high number of overall leads. Whereas the marketing department may turn round and say that they’re producing the goods, yet the sales team are wasting the marketing content or not targeting leads at the right team, so they’re not converting as many leads as they should be.

As you can imagine, internal politics like the situations above is not ideal for any business to operate effectively and profitably. Disagreements usually stem from the misalignment of both sides and their goals and expectations, which is where an SLA can step in and improve things by binding the two teams together.

An SLA can point them in the right direction and towards the same goals. Companies that have introduced these tend to see better relationships, both socially and work-related between the two teams.

This ultimately drives revenue and a more efficient, healthier way of working and operating a business.

Allows You to Better Analyse the Number and Quality of Leads Generated

As we’ve mentioned, marketing teams tend to complain that sales departments aren’t converting their leads generated into loyal brand advocates and the sales team moan about marketing not producing enough quality leads for them to convert.

But the issue isn’t the number of leads coming through though. It’s more the quality of them. Poor quality leads can often be a waste of time, so there’s no wonder that sales teams can’t convert them. And with marketing not knowing which pieces of content are working and which aren’t, it’s no wonder they can’t always pull in the right leads.

However, if the two work together, communication will improve. They’ll then both have more information on how to target and nurture engagement and leads - which can help drive quality.

Aligning the two teams allows you to stop guessing at how to approach different leads and make smarter, more informed decisions.

See Higher Return on Investment (ROI) From Inbound Marketing

If better quality leads are being gained by effective marketing, then the chances of your sales department converting them are going to be higher.

According to HubSpot’s 2018 State of Inbound report, sixty-five percent of businesses with a tightly aligned SLA see a higher ROI from their inbound marketing efforts. Whereas, 35 percent of businesses with a rarely aligned effort from sales and marketing couldn’t even calculate their ROI results because they were that poor.

The higher the ROI, the more your business is going to turnover which ultimately means that profit levels will be higher too. But, don’t be fooled into thinking that ROI is all money based. ROI can be measured off brand awareness, business growth and retention of customers too.

It’s like one big domino effect. If one area picks up in ROI, the chances are that the others will follow suit too.  

Companies with SLAs are More Likely to Grow and Succeed

SLA means company growth. Period. The same HubSpot report found that 70 percent of businesses whose marketing and sales departments work closely together can boast growth in increasing the size of their sales teams. This is largely down to the two teams working better together, higher quality leads being attracted, more sales closed...you get the idea.

And if businesses can afford to take on new staff, it goes to show that a tightly aligned SLA helps with quality, quantity and conversion of leads.

Not only will an SLA help your workforce’s growth, but your whole company will no doubt be showing excellent signs of steady growth too. It’s proven that businesses who have a tightly aligned SLA achieve 24 percent faster three-year revenue growth than those who don’t.

As we mentioned earlier, more revenue = more profit. In fact, aligned businesses have shown a 27 percent faster three-year profit growth too.

How to Create an Effective Sales and Marketing SLA

When it comes to it, it can be tricky to know where to start when creating an SLA, especially if you’re doing it for the first time between departments.

It starts by having a clear definition of each lifecycle stage. Basically, do you or your team know the difference between the set criteria it takes for a lead to be marketing qualified or sales qualified?

As a recap, marketing qualified leads (MQLs) are contacts who have engaged with your marketing team's efforts. But, they're not quite ready to receive a call from your sales team.

Sales qualified leads (SQLs) are contacts who appear to be ready to talk to a sales rep due to their actions. For example, they might have asked a question about your product through a contact form. This deems them ready for the next stage in the sales process (AKA talking to a salesperson).

After you’ve come to terms with the different criteria, you can now start to create sets of rules and regulations that’ll align your sales and marketing departments. You can also set goals for them both to pull towards to. This process will help both departments improve visibility into each other’s line of work and help understand how the other department drives leads and sales too.

When you’ve done that, follow these quick tips to help you get on your way to aligning your business more effectively:

  • Define your buyer personas and ideal client profiles.

  • Define the different types of leads.

  • Set clear goals.

  • Define how the handover of an MQL transforms to a sales qualified lead.

  • Establish protocols for managing leads.

  • Track, measure and analyse performance.

  • Constantly review your SLA process.

Learn More About Marketing and Sales Alignment in Our Sales Enablement Guide

Introducing sales enablement best practices, such as aligning your teams with an SLA, can be extremely beneficial to your business. Companies operate in more efficient ways which leaves them more open to driving revenue and increasing profit.

Whether it’s sales automation, lead scoring or creating SLAs between your sales and marketing departments, you can find out more about the topic in our free comprehensive guide. Download it below today and take the first step towards making your business more efficient and effective when it comes to closing sales.