There are different goals, different perspectives, and different languages spoken between the sales team and the marketing team. In this era of digitalisation, the lack of cooperation at these interfaces can strongly affect the generation of revenue for the company. In the last article, I wrote about the reasons for the conflictsand today I will deal with what arrangements should be made between these teams in order to arrange cooperation.
What is an SLA between sales and marketing?
The SLA is an informal document that sets out the elements of cooperation, expectations, opportunities and deadlines for both departments. Its form and the framework in which it is to operate can be fully adapted to the specifics of the company and the needs of individual teams.
It is simply a set of rules (or a set common arrangements, if you like) to which both teams agree. It is important that the whole thing is in writing and made available in a place where everyone has access. It can be an e-mail, the content of an internal website (or intranet) as well as a regular file placed in the “cloud”.
What should the SLA contract contain?
In my opinion, the content of this type of contract between marketing and sales departments should include 5 main elements::
1. Identify the basic terms used by both parties.
In order to avoid unpleasant situations, stormy discussions and blaming each other, it is worth defining a few key concepts in advance. Be sure to take care of the following areas:
- Ideal Customer Profile — The metrics that define the profiles of customers (such as the size of the company or number of employees). It is important here to embed the parameters in real conditions that can be provided by marketing (ie, as measurable as possible). “A customer who wants to buy” will not be a measurable parameter because to a large extent, it will be difficult to deliver such a lead.
- Common definition of a lead — it has been known for a long time that a lead for marketing (customer data in exchange for access to content) is not the same as a lead for sales (an appointment with a customer). You can read more about it here.
- Possibilities of qualifying the purchasing potential on the marketing side
It is important to be clear about what marketing is actually able to deliver based on digital marketing. Marketing (without a well-accelerated marketing automation machine) is not usually able to deliver hot sales leads (ie, leads that have a clearly defined purchasing potential within a period of not more than let’s say six months, for example). However, it is possible to add a question to the registration form: “Is your presence related to a planned project? And if so, in what timespan will it be launched? ” But this is an option for companies that have already accustomed customers to the fact that in return for answering such a question, they will receive valuable knowledge (at least for the most accelerated ones). If the company is at the beginning of the inbound marketing path (valuable knowledge in exchange for customer data), adding such a question to the form may make the number of event registrations / material downloads small. Therefore, the responsibility for qualifying the purchasing potential should be taken over by sales and made in a telephone conversation.
- Lead parameters
What do both departments understand when it comes to earthy, warm and hot leads? And on which side is the responsibility for the classification of this heat?
If cold, warm and hot leads are determined on the marketing side, it most often means that the factor influencing the determination of this warmth is the number of contacts with the company’s content.
Some examples of marketing lead parameters:
Cold lead — One subscription to the webinar
Warm lead — presence at the webinar + e-book download
Hot lead — presence at the webinar + e-book download + presence at the second webinar
If the heat parameters are defined on the sales side, it most often means that the salesperson grabs the handset, calls the customer and qualifies the potential in the conversation.
Some examples of sales lead parameters:
Cold lead — product potential + purchasing potential > 12 months
Warm lead — product potential + purchasing potential = 6-12 months
Hot Lead — product potential + purchasing potential < 6 months
2. Marketing goals and sales goals
It is also worth explaining clearly what the goals of both parties are.
The goal of sales is to close as many potential projects as possible (ie, complete contracts).
As for marketing goals, I asked this question to Adrian Domański of Monday,with whom I have been working for many quarters in building social and digital selling programs for Dell Technologies.
“The goal of marketing should be actions resulting from sales goals! Even the most planned, most creative, most innovative B2B marketing activities will in most cases be doomed to failure if they are carried out in isolation from the goals of the sales department as well as applies to small, medium and large companies. Probably each of us has encountered a situation in which a salesperson takes a marketing lead, picks up the phone and calls the client with the question: “Hello, I have info from the marketing representative that you want to buy this and that. So I am sending you an offer! ” It then turns out that the client took part in the webinar, downloaded the e-book or read the article, but had no intention of buying anything at this stage. Such situations can be avoided by establishing a common definition as well as parameters of the lead, (which is a component of the SLA). Once we know the sales goals of marketing, we should plan our activities in such a way as to reach the customer in a given time window with many channels, tools and various types of content. So, our goal may be to get the client to participate in the webinar, or read the article, read the case study, watch the movie, or maybe our company will appear as an expert at a conference our client will attend, and so on. And as a KPI, we can assume that we will touch the client with at least three different marketing activities / actions within a month or quarter. And in the case of complex IT projects, we should design tactics tailored to the client’s different representatives of the purchasing committee. We use a different method of operation for C-level than for other managers, and still another for specialists. We cannot forget about any of these groups if we want our activities to effectively support sales. ”
The common goal of marketing and selling should be to generate revenue, however each group covers its own piece in the process. Additionally, the expectation that marketing is able to generate leads with which the salesman can only sign a contract is beyond any real possibility. Marcina Morawskiego.
3. Describing the lead transfer process and responsibilities at various stages.
With this “theory” behind you — it’s time to get down to business and determine who will be responsible for what as well as for what period of time. The following questions will help in this area:
- When is a marketing lead transferred to sales? Specify what factors (parameters) must be met in order for traders to be contacted.
- Who is responsible for the activities in the area of lead maturation and how does this responsibility look? It is worth carefully planning all responsibilities related to the creation and distribution of content. The same applies to other activities supporting both the generation and temperature of leads as well as the promotion of sales (webinars, meetings, conferences, presentations, etc).
Examples of other issues that should be included in the SLA are:
- When does the lead have to be picked up by sales?
- What happens to rejected leads?
4. Reporting method
Make sure that all progress and results are shared through one coherent file or system that has been approved by all decision-makers. This will ensure that the cooperation will take place in a friendly atmosphere and will also improve the efficiency of both teams.
Valuable reports (for both parties) should present information such as:
- number of leads obtained on the marketing side (MQL) that are consistent with the previously adopted customer profile
- leads transferred to sales
- the number of hot leads (eg, less than 6 months)
- number of leads qualified for the future (ie, up to the nurturing stage and reasons for rejection), cases in progress and those completed successfully. Depending on common arrangements, such reporting may be done on a monthly or quarterly basis.
5. Ensuring continuous feedback
In order for the cooperation along the sales/marketing line to allow for the most effective implementation of jointly set goals, both departments must be in constant contact.
Therefore, I encourage you to mention the feedback in your SLA. Mutual exchange of information should concern all areas that directly or indirectly affect achieving the intended results.
This type of feedback may address the following issues:
- How did the individual talks with leads go?
- Which contacts turned out to be the most interesting and why?
- Does (and if so, what) additional information does the sales department need?
Putting the principles of cooperation between the two departments in the right framework brings a whole range of benefits. . One of the most important is the fact that a properly constructed SLA simply makes work easier.Thanks to it, everyone knows what to do, and thus does not waste time on unnecessary discussions, arrangements or negotiations.
The next and by far the most important factor is the results.When the marketing and sales departments start to work as one and, in addition, work as a well-oiled machine, their cooperation is positively reflected in the functioning of the entire company.
It’s over for today!
I hope that reading this article convinced you that the SLA is not just another “fashionable” term. Instead, it can be one of the most effective methods of supporting you in your daily work to increase sales.
If you are looking for more knowledge in the field of broadly understood sales and marketing, I encourage you to visit my blog regularly. If you do not want the next publications to escape your attention, be sure to subscribe to my newsletter!!