Do you feel like your sales and marketing teams operate completely separately? If so, their partnership may be suffering. But there is something you can do to increase transparency between these integral teams. By creating an internal service-level agreement (SLA), you can resolve issues and foster stronger interdepartmental partnerships.

Take a look at what an SLA is, what it includes, and how it will benefit your organization.

What is an SLA?

According to HubSpot, an SLA is a written agreement between two parties that establishes a set of deliverables one has agreed to provide the other. This contract can exist between a company and its customers, or between one department that delivers a recurring service to another within an organization. An example of an internal SLA would involve the sales and marketing departments, but other internal ones may exist as well.

What’s Included in an SLA?

While SLAs may vary from company to company, there are several key elements you should include. They are:

  • A summary of the agreement. Outline who’s involved, what’s being agreed upon, and how you’ll measure your success.
  • A clear definition of the service being provided. If necessary, you can expand upon a portion of your summary to detail the crux of the agreement. For instance, you could specifically call out how sales prospects leads that marketing can then nurture into SQLs.
  • The numerical goals of both departments. Your summary will likely have a quick overview of your goals, but you should explicitly specify what each party needs to achieve. Make sure they’re tangible too. To help with that, start by calculating a marketing goal based on the sales team quota. If sales need X amount of closed deals, how can marketing help with a lead nurturing campaign? Likewise, for sales, you can determine their goals by looking at past sales figures and factoring in when sales may be slow. With this logic, you can zero in on how many warm leads they’ll need to contact or something similar. If you need more help with this, HubSpot has a great free tool.
  • What each party needs to reach their goals. Your SLA should include what both marketing and sales need to succeed. Sales may need X amount of enablement material, while marketing may need weekly status reports to verify their work. Whatever it is, write it down!
  • The time needed to provide deliverables. After you’ve recorded what items your team members need, include a deadline. For example, marketing may need to give sales new email templates or blogs by the end of every month. Similarly, sales may need to offer pipeline data bi-weekly.
  • Points of contact from departments. No matter how big or small your teams are, someone from each department needs to take the lead on communicating with the other. Include their information and how they can be reached in your SLA.
  • Any exception clauses. Something out of your control could happen that would result in one or both parties not being able to fulfill the SLA. It could be anything from a business closure, prolonged illness, or natural disaster. Think about potential clauses and write them into your SLA.
  • What happens if your goals aren’t met. While not fun to think about, there should be consequences for goals not being met. In a sales and marketing SLA, you can establish a plan to make up any lost revenue and how members can be held accountable.
  • Conditions for your SLA being canceled. Come up with any conditions that would cause you to cancel your SLA and include them in your contract. An example may be your team consistently coming up short on their goals. In this situation, you may need to produce a different, more attainable SLA.

Why SLAs Can Help Your Business

Writing another document may seem like a tedious task, but the benefits of creating an SLA are worth it. SLAs can help increase sales and marketing alignment by:

  • Detailing what each party needs to do to support the other
  • Giving common goals that result in shared business success
  • Removing any doubt of what needs to be done, when, and who needs to do it
  • Providing points of contact for improved communication
  • Helping to define your sales and marketing processes, like numerical goals and deliverables
  • Gaining insight into where things went right or where things went wrong, opening room for improvement

A Final Tip

An SLA is a living, breathing document. Sales and marketing both need easy access to it so they can regularly revisit, monitor, and adjust it if their goals are not being met. Doing this further helps maintain transparency because no one will ever be out of the loop!