What Is A Sales And Marketing SLA, Or Service Level Agreement?

Post by
Chris Mitchell
Minute Read
October 7, 2020
Last Updated:
November 2, 2020

A Sales and Marketing Service Level Agreement is a contract that both teams agree upon to guarantee that certain processes, timelines, actions, objectives and tasks will be met in a certain way that’ll help reach common goals. 

The ultimate goal of this type of agreement is to align both departments towards a common objective and to hold each other accountable for the activities they must develop. This ultimately helps both departments, by clearly defining and understanding what’s expected of them, what each persons’ tasks are, how things should be done and to avoid unexpected errors. Having this written down in a document will not only help avoid misalignments, but also have a clear place to refer to. It establishes concrete, numerical goals to reach.

A Sales and Marketing Service Level Agreement has become more common since the relationship between these two teams continues to grow closer with technology helping shorten their gap. This highly dependent relationship means that sales needs marketing to generate a certain number of qualified leads in a given timeframe, and sales needs to follow-up with those leads in a certain timeframe. It also helps avoid things being forgotten, left to chance, or creating unnecessary friction and misalignment between the two teams. 

SLA’s are used in multiple types of companies for different purposes, and can vary depending on whether: 

  • ...it’s B2B or a B2C organization
  • ...it involves teams outside of the company.
  • ...it is made for internal or external use.
  • ...it’s a legal document or a guideline for reference.
  • Among other types.

What Does An Internal Sales And Marketing SLA Look Like?

Internal Service Level Agreements are especially important to avoid the common friction between sales and marketing, where sales may argue that marketing doesn’t send them good enough leads, while marketing may argue that they have little information on what happens in sales and the outcome of their actions. 

This type of internal agreement helps both teams find a common ground to discuss what information they need from the other and how it should be handled. They can be regularly updated to adjust to new processes and better ways of managing issues that arise.

Creating Common Definitions

This part of the SLA helps establish terms that may need to be created for everyone to be able to agree upon. There will also be abbreviations explained that’ll help understand the document ahead.

  • What is a marketing qualified lead? 
  • What is a sales qualified lead? 
  • What is the minimum information you need to have to know if a lead is qualified or not. 

These are some of the questions that need to be answered so that processes can be formed, and results can be reported in a way where everyone interprets the information in the same way. 

People Or Roles Involved

This section clarifies who will be involved in the process and how they will be held accountable. It mentions who the teams are, what their role is and may go into detail about the different roles inside each team. It’s important not to over complicate this section, as parts of the team may change over time and it’s important to focus on the goals more than the individual people or roles.

Goals Of Both Parties

In external SLAs, the goals that will be stated here will mostly reflect the customer’s needs. The company providing the service will align their objectives with the customer’s, explaining what information they may also need from the client to meet those goals..
In internal sales and marketing SLAs, both teams will outline in brief and concise sentences what they need to work towards.

Definition Of What Each Role Should/Shouldn’t Do

This is the most important part of the agreement, which, based on the definitions created above, lists the processes that each area is responsible for, how they should do it, their objectives and what is expected from each of them. It’s also important to define where each task ends.

Goals will be set for each of the teams, with guidelines as to how each process works. It’s also important to clarify what should happen in exceptional cases, to try to avoid frictions if or when unplanned events happen.

A brief example of this could be:

“Marketing agrees to deliver 10 qualified leads per month. They will be passed on to sales through email as soon as they meet the minimum requirements.

Sales agrees to follow up on the leads sent by Marketing and notify the team about the current status on a weekly basis until the opportunity is closed or lost.”

Response Times

This section should establish expected due dates and times the processes are supposed to last. These response times should be reachable, based on previous gathered information.

It should also describe what the penalty looks like when these timelines aren’t met (if any).

Contract Duration / End Of Contract

When creating an SLA for internal purposes, this item may not be as common as when it’s created for a contract with a member or company outside of the company. In internal cases, this may refer to how often this document should be revised to make sure it is up to date and pointing towards reachable goals.

In external SLA’s, this section should clarify how long the service is supposed to go on for and what happens if the client no longer wants to work with the provider.

In Conclusion

Service Level Agreements are an important guideline to keep everyone on the same page regarding what is expected to be done and the way to do it.

It’s important to review them frequently as internal and external changes in your company, service or processes occur.

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