Sales and marketing

We Need a Sales and Marketing SLA

November 7, 2016

By: Eoin Rodgers

Like a pair of bickering siblings, sales and marketing often don’t get on, despite being on the same side. Respect can dwindle. Resentment builds. Misunderstandings proliferate. And, eventually, communication breaks down altogether and the two teams work in silos.

But, let’s get something straight. Customers and prospects don’t care if they’re dealing with marketing or sales. They’re too well connected and too well informed to tolerate any disconnect in their buyer journey – between what one department does and the other says. All they care about is getting the right information at the right time to solve their business problems.

Sales and marketing need to combine their strengths to make this happen. They need to make sure that sales conversations match marketing messages. After all, when siblings bicker, they are annoying. But, when they come together, they can be formidable.

It’s time to recalibrate the relationship and work towards a collaborative approach with clear and appropriate expectations.

Companies with aligned sales & marketing generated 208% more revenue from their marketing activities (MarketingProfs).

Set a clear service-level agreement (SLA) with sales to understand how to deliver the type of leads the team wants. You’ll need to agree on the following:

  1. what a lead looks like,
  2. how many sales expects,
  3. your time frame,
  4. how sales will follow up
  5. what happens to leads that don’t convert,
  6. how we can align marketing activity to sales outcomes.

Have a frank exchange. Hold firm on the definition of a sales-ready lead. Sales will flex its muscles early in the process, but stick with your agreed criteria. As we all know, the more fully nurtured our leads are, the better the effect on pipelines and conversions to sales.

It’s also worth remembering that sales can give you valuable input when you’re planning marketing campaigns and activities. They are on the frontline. So, what better ‘voice of the customer’ insight will you find at this stage?

Without doubt, your communications will have more impact. What’s more, your sales colleagues will feel involved and get behind your campaign right from the word go.

I’ll leave you with this quote form Simon Carter, VP and Head of Field Marketing for Sales, EMEIA at Fujitsu:

“ It doesn’t matter where you draw the line on where the marketing team ends and the sales team starts – what matters is that the two are inextricably linked. Salesmen cannot sell without marketing activity and marketers have no purpose if there is no ultimate sale.”

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About the author: Eoin is Head of Planning at DirectionGroup and runs our planning and strategy team. His focus is on developing buyer centric content and communication strategies for our clients. Eoin's areas of specialisation are digital, social, content marketing and sales enablement.

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