When you were a kid, did you and your siblings have a chore chart?
It would have been some type of written document with a listing of activities, times, and responsibilities. Each family member was responsible to uphold his or her end of the chore chart. There were no excuses because it was posted in plain sight. If there was a failure, it was noted and reprimanded. At the end of the week, you were handed your allowance and there was family harmony. This is a basic description of a Service Level Agreement (SLA).
In the business world, SLA’s are powerful tools, contracts between those providing a service and a client, either internal or external.
Technology providers often develop a variety of SLA’s that promise differing levels of service at different prices. This creates accountability between the two parties. These documents are so detailed and important they can become legal agreements.
For government agencies, service level agreements and task order service level agreements are often required as part of an RFP response. An April 2016 report from the Government Accounting Office (GAO) had this to say about SLAs.
“…An SLA defines the level of service and performance expected from a provider, how that performance will be measured, and what enforcement mechanisms will be used to ensure the specified performance levels are achieved. GAO identified ten key practices to be included in an SLA, such as identifying the roles and responsibilities of major stakeholders, defining performance objectives, and specifying security metrics. The key practices, if properly implemented, can help agencies ensure services are performed effectively, efficiently, and securely. …”
SLA Development – Time and Well Spent
SLA’s can be developed and used as a way to bridge the communication and workflow divide that is common between sales and marketing. Much like siblings, sales and marketing each have interests and an agenda. They may be part of the overall “family of services” with a collective company goal, but at the nitty-gritty level – they want to hang out in their own rooms listening to their music.
A robust SLA can define the necessary working arrangements and provide benefits to both. According to research conducted by Hubspot,
“Companies with an active SLA are 34% more likely to experience greater year-over-year ROI than those companies without one. They’re 21% more likely to get greater budget allocations, and 31% more likely to be hiring additional salespeople to meet demand.”
SLA – Start Talking Here
Creating an effective Sales and Market SLA begins with involving the right people. As with all seminal business documents, having the appropriate stakeholders involved is essential to its success.
Since sales and marketing teams vary in size, it’s usually a good idea to start with the team leaders for each group and define a mutually agreed set of standards which includes:
- What constitutes a sales qualified lead?
- What will marketing do to reach this standard?
- How will you measure that the standard has been reached?
- What will sales commit to doing with a sales qualified lead?
- What happens if they don’t?
Each department must show its hand to achieve the company’s sales and new client acquisition goals.
- How many leads are needed each month?
- How much money is allocated to specific campaigns?
- Is there enough people/time available?
The two teams must define how information is to be tracked?
- Who on each team is responsible for building and implementing?
- What tools will you use to keep score?
- When goals are reached, how are new goals set?
- When goals are missed, what needs to be done to correct the errors.
We have seen that our clients that take the time to develop or update their Sales and Marketing SLA documents reap financial benefits, such as more qualified leads and reduce client acquisition costs. They also strengthen their corporate communications and culture. Like a family that must share chores, sales and marketing must work together. The rewards are tangible; sales, profits, harmony, and growth.
Need help building your sales and marketing SLA?
Ocean 5 Strategies is a marketing agency that specializes in implementing sales and marketing strategies that deliver profitable sales growth. Using inbound strategies and marketing automation tools such as HubSpot, Oracle Eloqua, Pardot and Marketo, we help government contracting, manufacturing IT/tech and SaaS businesses perform.
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