SLA – Service Level Agreement: what, why & how | Online Marketing

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What makes the objectives fully achievable? Sometimes companies and their managers focus on creating magical strategies and invest thousands of pesos in wanting to discover the black thread in order to see the goals achieved, however, what we still can not understand is that behind a great strategy is find the team that should support its implementation. 

Note: This article is more into the online world but can be applied in the regular organization.

The team is a fundamental part of achieving the objectives. It does not matter if the strategy meets the maximum needs or if there is an extensive list of resources.

On certain occasions, the answer to many problems and processes is found within your own organization.

That is why before defining an objective you must stop to think if you have the necessary resources to fulfil it.

Unmet goals generally cause frustration and a sense of dissatisfaction in people, which is why prior to defining a new goal, you should consider the possibility of not having all the resources that are needed before “burning a cartridge” ready.

  • Financial resources
  • Technical resources
  • Human Resources

Although the first two are not easy to achieve, acquiring them becomes a simpler task compared to the alignment and optimization of human resources.

In the end, money is obtained and technical resources are acquired, but human resources require other types of needs, making this stage more complex.

Within the companies there are multiple areas and teams, an example of these are Marketing and Sales. Did you know that these two must always work hand in hand? 

But it’s not just about meeting goals and objectives.

Many companies manage a culture where achieving the objectives translates into separate actions, that is, each collaborator carries out actions  that add points to reach a goal, however, the work done between Marketing and Sales must go far beyond only small steps and actions alone.

To ensure that there is a joint effort between these two areas, there is something called ” Service Level Agreement” (SLA) and which translates as ” service-level agreement ” but what is it , how it is achieved and why companies they need it? Lets go see it.

What is SLA Service Level Agreement?

Imagine a marriage act between Sales and Marketing. As its name says, this agreement is a document in which the commitments that Sales and Marketing will have with each other are defined and clarified.

Something like “together until death..”.

Within this document, you must find detailed Marketing objectives (for example, the number of potential clients to achieve or the number of visits that must be attracted to enter the sales flow) as well as the activities that the Sales team You must have planned to follow up on the work done by Marketing.

This document is used by both teams to obtain a mutual commitment, always based on clear, concise and numerical objectives.

It is important to consider that you must have in your hands a very clear document, which anyone can easily understand.

81% of the vendors whose companies have this type of agreements have a much more effective marketing strategy. 

A well-defined SLA is 34% more likely to see an increase in the company’s ROI. 

Do you need more reasons to start defining SLA and implementing it as soon as possible?

It always becomes a difficult job to try to organize a team, it is logical that the task increases its complexity when it comes to aligning two teams.

Although the road seems complicated, do not despair. After doing so, I assure you that you will not regret the results.

How to create a Service Level Agreement?

Next, we will give you a series of steps which it is important that you follow in order, in this way the success will be closer:

1.- Define the concepts that both teams will use

If we continue to see the SLA as a marriage between Sales and Marketing, it is fair that to avoid fights and conflicts between teams, first define “the rules of the game.” In these definitions, we will find the starting point because before starting to declare what will be the objectives and metrics to calculate the scope, it is necessary that all have the same handling of the information.

It is common for Sales to have a wide knowledge of concepts such as:

  • Visits
  • Leads
  • Contacts
  • customers
  • MQL
  • SQL
  • Among others

Marketing may not understand what each of these concepts refers to.

While it is essential that both teams know what each of these words means, it is also necessary to agree what each of these will be for the company, that is, it is time to give it the most convenient meaning.

In other words, it is common that these concepts have a generic definition, that is, all companies could know that visitors are those people who arrive at your website, regardless of the type of action they take.

However, concepts can change a bit when we talk about a particular industry and a particular service.

For this reason, in the first pages of the SLA you must write the concepts that are important for your company and for your teams.

For example, maybe for you, a lead is that person who has downloaded more than 2 contents of your site. Sure, this definition may not be functional for other companies.

Once these concepts are defined and you have completed the list, you can continue with the process. Then follow the objectives and metrics to be used for each team.

To illustrate, let’s imagine that the goal of the month is 2,500 visits, 250 contacts and 20 clients. Since you have the definitions, it will be easier for Marketing to know exactly what you must achieve and what you must provide to Sales.

In this way it will be much easier for Marketing to know what kind of achievements Sales needs to work. Do you see how you do not need any kind of magic strategy?

2.- Calculate the metrics for Marketing

It is important that we stop seeing our Marketing team as those who only follow the dissemination strategies and are responsible for attracting prospects.

They should not only deliver reports about the growth of the accounts, they should also commit to meet numbers that are directly linked to the sales objectives.

For this reason, both teams must know the particular objectives that together will lead to achieving the general goal.

Some of the metrics that you can consider are the following:

  • Total sales goal
  • % of Marketing income
  • Average sales size
  • Average closing per customer
  • Number of customers required
  • Number of potential customers needed

3.- Define the objectives for Sales

For the sales team, complying with the numbers is very important, besides that they can be motivated by their quotas, however, behind this there must be solid and sustained numbers.

But for Sales, it’s not just the numbers that have to be met.

You also need to talk about speed and depth in tracking:

  • If potential customers respond in less than five minutes, the chances of contacting them are 100 times greater than waiting 30 minutes.  On average, only 7.7% of contacts are contacted within the first 5 minutes.
  • In terms of follow-up, “the best practice is 6 phone calls, 3 voice messages and 3 emails, for a total of 12 touches.”

We know that for Sales to reach this level, contacts must be qualified and must have a certain level of maturity as well as the elements agreed between both teams; This is where the Marketing work is directly reflected in the Sales area.

In addition, it is necessary to know the resources and the level of preparation that the Sales area has, only this way it could be defined how much time is needed to follow up and the effectiveness of each process with the leads.

4.- Open the conversation and keep the conversation going

Communication is a fundamental part of achieving the objectives. Both teams must remain 100% communicated, celebrate in the event that the goal has been met but they must also talk and make changes to the strategy if things have not gone as they were.

Communication is always essential to stay motivated and work in a peaceful and harmonious way, otherwise, the scope of the objectives could be compromised.

Remember that the work of one team is directly related to the objectives of the other, which is why communication and open conversation take more importance.

5.- Add responsibilities to the objectives:

Who will do what? This may be the starting question to start defining responsibilities. This point is important to know who will take care of everything.

Once the objective is already defined, you can know the path to follow and the actions that are needed to reach it.

The most prudent thing is that this SLA also includes the responsibilities of each member of the team, well they say that “clear accounts, long friendships” and in work and business is essential to have it in mind. Make sure everyone involved knows who does what.

In the case of marketing, you can talk about some responsibilities such as:

  • Who will be responsible for generating content (Text, images and other materials)
  • Who will cure the content
  • Who will do SEO optimization
  • Who will do the Social Media work

In the case of Sales, we can talk about responsibilities such as:

  • Track qualified contacts by marketing
  • Who will keep the CRM up to date
  • Who could create a mail chain according to the needs detected
  • Who will deal with immediate contact requests

6.- Configure your marketing reports

Once the marketing team has its defined objectives and responsibilities, it is necessary to create the type of report on which it will work to follow up on the objectives.

The most advisable thing is that on a daily basis you have control of the progress that has been made. This way you will know how close or far you are to reach your monthly goal.

7.- Create the Sales report

In this case, it is not necessary to focus solely on the number of sales achieved or the number of customers obtained.

The monitoring time must be monitored and the depth with which the process has been done must also be followed up.

In the case of time, you can create a report that indicates the date and time that Marketing presented Sales to said lead and the date and time when you received your first contact.

The difference between these numbers will give the result you are looking for and that in any case, you should optimize.

For the depth report it will be necessary to analyze the number of attempts made to contact said lead as well as those that could not be contacted.

Remember that the fundamental objective is to contact people.

Why do companies need an SLA? 

As we have seen, companies that have a Service Level Agreement are more likely to increase ROI and also reduce costs, this is because the actions carried out by the Sales team and the Marketing team are much more focused and routed, an issue for which there is no need to redouble efforts or times.

According to the State of Inbound 2017, 43% of those interviewed said they had a good relationship between Sales and Marketing.

But what about the rest of the companies that do not have it? You on which of the two sides are you?

Some of the benefits of having an SLA are:

Increase sales for the company: We are in an era where not only the sales team has to dedicate to sell and get new customers, on the contrary, marketing efforts must also be focused on attracting new customers.

In addition, the time in which each area did its work separately, nowadays Marketing must work on numbers and Sales must propose actions that improve the work of attraction.

Greater coordination and efficiency at work: When communication flows and the objectives are clear, there is also an opportunity to increase the efficiency of the collaborators and the performance of the teams.

This can also be reflected in the ability to have a greater number of clients because if the teams work well, they will have a greater capacity to respond to a larger number of clients.

Mostly aligned teams: Not only Inbound Marketing must work under the baton of having aligned teams, in reality, this must be a trend and a way of working that all companies adopt over time.

Happiness, trust and companionship will also grow if you work in this way. It is always better to work in a collaborative environment and where everyone shares responsibility.

And let it be known that we do not say all this. HubSpot, the founding company of Inbound Marketing, was the one who discovered the importance of working collaboratively and aligned, always with the same objectives.

But far from discovering it, he also implemented it, not for nothing today is a company that is listed on the Stock Exchange.

The alignment between their teams calls it “SMarketing”. Interesting right? Go ahead and start aligning your teams, you will see that the results can be fascinating.

Do not look for answers where they are not and better optimize the resources you have within your organization. 

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