Cooperation with Sales starts with an SLA


Marketing is not an island. Truly valuable (to their companies) marketers aren’t focused on marketing metrics such as increased web traffic, low cost per clicks and social shares, they’re focused on contributing to the company’s revenue growth and profitability. And to do that they need to work closely with sales.

The first step toward a successful, long-term partnership between marketing and sales is the creation of a service level agreement between the two. This is a written SLA that defines how they will work together.

(And even if you’re in a small company without separate marketing and sales groups, you need to be thinking through many of these questions.)

Some of the elements of an SLA can include:

  • Goals
  • What vertical markets are we targeting?
  • How do we score leads?
  • Definition of a marketing qualified lead (MQL) that is ready to be passed on to sales. What triggers a hand-off?
  • How will sales respond to MQLs it receives? How quickly? By phone? By email? How many attempts will they make before kicking it back to marketing for nurturing?
  • How many leads is sales responsible for generating?
  • KPIs

An SLA between marketing and sales is not a fixed document. The leadership of the two teams should meet weekly to discuss successes and what needs to be improved. You may discover outliers to your definition of a lead that needs to be addressed. Or perhaps your work is seasonal and in slow seasons you need to loosen the definition of a marketing qualified lead, and tighten them in your busy periods.

In some organizations there may need to be a bit of clearing of the air before starting to work on this, especially if there is a history of poor cooperation between the two (“The leads that marketing gives us are junk.” “Sales never follows up on the great leads we give them”). But try to get past that fast and stay focused on the future. You, and the company, will profit from it.