9 Points to Mull Over in Your Marketing and Sales Service Level Agreement

9 Points to Mull Over in Your Marketing and Sales Service Level AgreementWant to know a great way to make your marketing automation platform  more effective? Align your marketing and sales departments with a service level agreement. But what should you include in your service level agreement? Here are 9 points to consider in your marketing and sales service level agreement.

The key to drafting any agreement is to clearly define objectives that must be fulfilled and the responsibilities of each party. The M&S service level agreement establishes the common ground that both teams operate under. Gaining common ground effectively typically requires both departments to contribute to the agreement. Companies we’ve engaged that have implemented an SLA tell us that a service level agreement provides a useful way to hold both teams accountable for commonly-held goals.

When you’re developing a service level agreement for your company, keep these 10 points in mind. It should save you some heartache during the process.

  1. Define important terms. Those who will follow this agreement must understand and agree to what a term means, such as “sales qualified lead (SQL)” and “Trigger Events”. Both teams should be on the same page when it comes to, as former US President Bill Clinton put it, “what the meaning of ‘is’ is.”
  2. Clearly define responsibilities – what is expected from each department? The SLA should include marketing response conditions when a lead is activated and sales response when a lead is passed through.
  3. Provide focused metrics. You can’t draft a successful SLA without clearly defined, timely metrics for each department. Metrics should include such parameters as “marketing will add X (number) contacts to the CRM database per month” or “sales will generate X (number) SQLs per month”.
  4. Incorporate team benchmarks – what are the minimums? As part of metric development, each parameter should have at least 3 hurdles that each department should leap over.
  5. Provide an ideal lead profile (customer) profile. Both teams should agree on who you’re targeting. The service level agreement should describe ideal profiles for your market(s). Typically, the profile should include factors from both a lead’s attributes (size, location, etc.) and its online behavior (white paper download, completed form, etc.)
  6. Insert a lead scoring model that ranks leads as they advance through the pipeline. Take each attribute and online activity and assign it a value that both marketing and sales can agree on. For example, using ‘title’ as a parameter, you could assign a 7 each time the condition ‘sales supervisor’ is satisfied as a result of a lead selecting that title through an online form. Don’t forget to include negative scoring!
  7. Establish lead routing rules. Lead distribution is a key component to an effective marketing automation platform; therefore, the SLA should outline which sales team or agents will receive certain leads and how generic leads will be distributed.
  8. Explain the lead nurturing process. Each team should know how leads that enter the marketing pipeline will be advanced towards marketing-qualified. Though this provision will often apply to automated marketing activity, the sales department’s lead nurturing responsibilities should be defined as well.
  9. Determine a meeting frequency for marketing and sales alignment. Each service level agreement should establish a meeting schedule and meeting goals and objectives to make sure that both sides are on target for fulfilling their end of the agreement.

If you would like to have a free service level template delivered via email, contact a Lead Liaison Revenue Generation Specialist today.

What Is A Marketing and Sales Service Level Agreement? How Can It Help My Company Boost Sales?

What Is A Marketing and Sales Service Level Agreement? How Can It Help My Company Boost Sales?A fair number of companies we’ve spoken with have wanted to know “what is a marketing and sales service level agreement (SLA) and how does having an SLA in place help to increase our sales conversions, reduce customer buy cycles, and drive higher revenues?” The short answer is: it’s a document that inspires symmetry. The longer answer is:

What an M&S Service Level Agreement Is

A marketing and sales service level agreement is a binding agreement between the sales and marketing teams that specifies a lead generation and management process. The purpose of a service level agreement is to broker collaboration between both departments by defining a qualification process, lead scoring criteria, and accountability standards. Typically, the goal for executing an SLA is to generate an acceptable level of marketing-qualified leads (MQL) for the sales team to convert into sales-qualified leads (SQL) or sales opportunities.

Within a marketing and sales service level agreement there are requirements for how leads will be managed by marketing and delivered to sales. On the sales side, there are requirements for follow up responsibilities on marketing-qualified leads and converting MQLs to SQLs. In some cases, there may be parameters for how demand will be generated as well.

5 Ways an SLA Aligns Marketing With Sales

  1. Provides a defined pipeline that clarifies when a lead has reached marketing-qualified status.
  2. Provides clear stages for advancing leads towards sales-readiness
  3. Provides lead scoring metrics that reflect lead engagement levels with marketing assets (sales can see how effectively marketing assets are educating leads)
  4. Provides goals for sales to generate sales-qualified leads and opportunities
  5. Establishes that marketing is responsible for de-duping, filtering competition, and removing bot-filled forms

4 Ways an SLA Aligns Sales With Marketing  

  1. Provides defined follow up time for leads received by marketing
  2. Defines an automated lead nurturing process aimed at providing the highest quality leads at the earliest possible point
  3. Provides a criteria-based lead distribution process for sales optimization
  4. Provides goals for marketing to generate marketing-qualified leads and a percentage of leads that eclipse a lead scoring threshold

Operating without a service level agreement can reduce the efficacy of your lead generation/marketing automation system. Be sure to set the standards for both departments early to get the most from your MA platform.

Service Level Agreement

Service Level AgreementFacts support a widening gap between sales and marketing teams. Read our article on sales and marketing alignment to see what we mean. Businesses must focus sales and marketing teams on common criteria; in particular, revenue generation. The first step in brokering alignment of sales and marketing teams is to establish an agreement, a set of rules, defining how sales and marketing will interact with each other. Many businesses are creating a Service Level Agreement (SLA) between sales and marketing to serve this purpose.

“Sales and Marketing must collaborate on defining leads and marketing objectives. You can make a huge impact by focusing first, on creating an Ideal Customer Profile (company-wide, for each product, service or solution). Then, create the Universal Lead Definition of a ‘sales-ready lead.’ Finally, connect the marketing/sales process to customer’s buying process.” Read more here. – Brian Carroll” company,

What should a Service Level Agreement contain?

As Brian Carroll highlights, companies should agree to definitions of leads, ideal customers, and adapt to customer’s new buying habits. These are just a few examples of items that should be included in a Service Level Agreement. In addition, businesses should include:

  • Purpose of the Agreement
  • General definitions
  • Lead scoring model
  • Lead response process and timeline
  • Lead nurturing program
  • Metrics / goals
  • Sales and marketing responsibilities
  • Review period
  • Term
  • Acceptance

Complementary Service Level Agreement for sales and marketing

Lead Liaison’s revenue generation software provides the technology to deliver many of the components of a Service Level Agreement; however, it’s a best practice to first develop a guideline for your lead management in the form of an Agreement. We understand every business is different. Small business, large businesses, different products, different markets, etc; but, we can agree most businesses are similar in a few regards. They lack efficient lead management processes and have misaligned sales and marketing teams. As a result, the “framework” of any Service Level Agreement is similar.

We took an opportunity to create a Service Level Agreement template to get you started. We will be posting the template shortly. The template will be accessible via this post. Please check back shortly.

We welcome your feedback, comments and suggestions. What else should be included in a Service Level Agreement between sales and marketing?

To be alerted of future posts, please click on the RSS button.