Marketing and Sales don’t have a great history of agreeing on things, but alignment between the two teams is critical for event success. Service-level Agreements (SLAs) are an effective way to outline agreed-upon goals and expectations between two teams. Since in-person events require a lot from both Sales and Marketing, it’s necessary to have an event-specific SLA.

Sales and Marketing Event SLA

Most Marketing and Sales SLAs focus on the journey of passing over marketing generated leads and the expected follow up from Sales. Marketing is accountable for sourcing leads that meet a certain criteria while Sales is accountable for proper follow-up with those leads. Events require their own SLA because they are one of the more complex, hands-on marketing tactics.

Each component of your SLAs should answer these questions:

  • Who is involved? What teams or people are responsible?
  • What is the expected action? What exactly do you need Sales/Marketing to do?
  • What is the timeline/deadline?

Your Event SLA should include the following three sections:

1. Driving registration & attendance

Who is involved?

  • Marketing:
    • Marketers who are responsible for setting up registration, event logistics and planning, marketing automation, and event marketing.
  • Sales:
    • Customer Success and Sales Reps who own the relationships with potential attendees. They will have the highest likelihood of connecting with your ideal attendees and should help drive registration and attendance.

What is the expected action?

  • Marketing:
    • Marketing needs to develop and share an event marketing plan that includes:
      • Event information: venue, time, date, location, agenda
      • A goal for registrations
      • Timeline for invitation & reminder emails
      • Outline of what content needs to be created for emails and promotion
      • Cadence of email invitations
      • Create a curated list for Sales of people to invite
      • An outreach schedule for Sales, including email templates
  • Sales:
    • Reach out to target list of invitees via email, social, phone, etc.

What is the timeline/deadline?

  • Deadlines for each of the deliverables should be outlined in a clear and concise way at the beginning of the event planning process and be in a place easily accessible by the team. There should also be visibility into progress towards your registration goal from within your CRM/Marketing automation.

Example from Attend:

We meet with our sales, customer success, and marketing teams prior to every event. Marketing determines the event format, content, & venue and shares the capacity of the event, registration goal, & target audience with sales.

Marketing shares an email template to be used for personal invitations from reps, the link to the registration page, and a Salesforce list of registration targets and their owner. The sales team reaches out with personal invites & confirmations while marketing sends emails as air cover to ensure that we meet our registration goal and get the right people to attend.

2. Engaging attendees on-site

Who is involved?

  • Marketing:
    • Whoever is in charge of managing the event, specifically the registration list and check-in logistics.
  • Sales:
    • Members of the team who will be attending the event.

What is the expected action?

  • Marketing:
    • To prepare for the event, Marketing and Sales should review the registration list and develop an engagement plan so members of the Sales team know who will be in the room and who they are responsible for connecting with onsite.
    • Marketing is responsible for optimizing event check-in so that getting attendees in the door flows well. The team should plan to incorporate technology to ensure that all attendance and on-site engagement data is captured accurately.
  • Sales:
    • At the event, Sales team members should know who they are supposed to connect with and have done some research on them to prepare for a meaningful conversation. Sales should have a process for knowing when their contacts arrive and be able to view contextual data on those attendees. They are responsible for making the effort to speak with them and subsequently get their notes back into their CRM.

What is the timeline/deadline?

  • Marketing:
    • Pre-event, Marketing should plan for their event check-in flow, test any technology they plan to use to aid in their efforts on-site and develop their engagement plan.
    • At the event, Marketing should plan to arrive several hours early for set-up after determining what is required and who will be assisting.
  • Sales:
    • Sales should use the week before the event to prepare for their event responsibilities and arrive that the event at least an hour in advance.

Example from Attend:

For a recent event, we scoped out our venue and decided that we would have check-in at the entrance to our event, manned by two members of the marketing team who would greet attendees and print a name tag for them. The marketing team also called a pre-event team meeting a week before the event to review logistics and the on-site engagement plan so both teams were on the same page.

As people arrived on event day, the sales team member who “owned” the attendee got a notification. The sales team mingled with guests during the event and uses the Attend app to mark who they spoke to, what the spoke about, and to sync that data with Salesforce.

3. Following up quickly

Who is involved?

  • Marketing:
    • Members of the marketing team who deal with event marketing, marketing automation, and content marketing.
  • Sales:
    • Members of the sales team that will be at the event, have prospects or customers who registered for the event, or will be expected to follow up with attendees.

What is the expected action?

  • Marketing:
    • Event attendance data needs to get back into the system of record as soon as possible. Marketing will send an email sent to attendees and an email to no-shows.
    • On the marketing automation side, all attendees should be scored, have their program/campaign member status updated, and passed over to sales properly. Marketing should share their follow-up plan and timeline with sales and offer guidelines around how sales should follow up with templates and/or talking points.
  • Sales:
    • For timely and contextual follow-up to happen, records of event engagement (who spoke to who) and event conversation notes need to be properly logged in the CRM.

What is the timeline/deadline?

  • Marketing:
    • Fast follow-up is extremely important for event success. To facilitate expedient follow-up, event attendance data updates and lead handoff must be made almost immediately post-event. Marketing email follow up should be completed within a day of the event.
  • Sales:
    • Sales reps need to start the follow-up process within a day of the event (if not during or immediately afterward).
    • Sales reps should follow a pre-defined timeline and cadence for follow-up (emails, phone calls, social engagement, etc).

Example from Attend:

We use Attend’s check-in app which syncs with our Marketing Automation platform in real time. When we walk in the door the next day, our lists are queued up and we’re ready to send out our marketing follow-up emails. We keep those generic with photos and/or links to content like a recap or slideshare.

Similarly, we have workflows set up to distribute leads and let reps know that post-event follow up is required. Since our sales team took notes on site or at least indicated that they had a conversation, follow up is faster and more effective.

Having this SLA in place will help for future events since you will have the framework available. You also have the benefit of learning as time goes on and making necessary adjustments.

Developing an Event SLA with input from both the Sales & Marketing teams will make your events run more smoothly from beginning to end. Understanding who is involved with each step, what exactly the deliverables are, and when they are due helps to unite the teams behind one, agreed upon plan so everyone can more forward in lockstep.