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April 26, 2010 // 10:00 AM

Improving Sales and Marketing Alignment: The Marketing and Sales SLA

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sandbox As companies continue to increase the percentage of leads that originate from inbound marketing, effective alignment of sales and marketing becomes a critical area of organizational design.   If the two departments are managed as separate silos, the system fails. For companies to achieve growth and become leaders in their industries, it is critical that these two group be properly integrated 


The Problem

Marketing is measured against aggressive lead quantity goals.    They scramble to meet these goals, focusing on campaigns that produce the most lead conversions.    Lead quality is de-prioritized and suffers.    Sales becomes frustrated with all the time it takes to comb through dozens of unqualified leads to perhaps find one good one.   They stop paying attention to these leads and revert back to expensive, and often times unprofitable, cold calling.   Marketing complains that sales is ignoring the leads that marketing worked hard to generate.  

The Solution

To address this issue, many companies on the edge of inbound marketing and sales 2.0 have introduced a marketing and sales SLA (service level agreement).    We use this technique at HubSpot ourselves.   The marketing SLA defines the expectations that sales has for marketing with regards to lead quantity and lead quality .   The sales SLA defines the expectations that marketing has for sales on how deeply and frequently sales will pursue each qualified lead.  


5 Steps to Establishing A Sales and Marketing SLA


1.        Run a closed loop analysis on your historical inbound lead segments.   Calculate the profitability of each segment.

2.        Classify profitable lead segments as “workable leads”, which are ready for sales.   Filter out and/or nurture “non-workable leads”.  

3.        Determine the number of “workable leads” per sales rep per month that marketing is accountable for.   This metric becomes your marketing SLA.

4.        Define the number and frequency of attempts that sales will make against each “workable lead”.   This metric becomes your sales SLA.

5.         Automate the daily monitoring of the process.   Key metrics to monitor are:

a.        “Workable leads” produced per sales rep, month to date

b.       Attempts per “workable lead”

c.        Connect rate per “workable lead”

d.       Conversion rate to forecasted pipeline per “workable lead”

Examples of Sales and Marketing SLA Charts:

Note: numbers are not actual HubSpot statistics

lead goal


To maximize accountability and empowerment, it is best define the SLA in a joint meeting between sales and marketing.


What issues do you have with sales and marketing alignment?   What other interesting strategies have you implemented?


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Topics: Inbound Marketing Inbound Sales Inbound Sales

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