5 Steps to Set Up a Service Level Agreement

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Have you ever heard someone describe their relationship status with: “It’s complicated”? The same could be said about the relationship between marketing and sales. Ideally, the two teams work together toward shared success. However, when there’s a breakdown in communication, or one team doesn’t make their numbers, it gets infinitely more complicated. Sales blames marketing, and vice versa. This hurts your business.

The solution: a Marketing and Sales Service Level Agreement (SLA).

Let Donna and Greg explain a little:


You can get started on setting up your SLA by downloading our SLA Template. Then, meet with your sales and marketing teams and follow the 5 steps below to get the SLA filled out.

Step 1: Identify and Document your Sales/Marketing Goals.

The path to harmony begins by having both teams working towards the same goals. Make sure the goals are SMART – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely.

You’ll see on our SLA template that we suggest these 4 metrics for setting your goals:

  • The number of visits to the website
  • The number of Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs)
  • The number of Bottom-of-the-funnel (BOFU) conversions/submissions on your website
  • The number of Sales Qualifies Leads (SQLs)

Step 2: Document a Clearly-Defined MQL Based on Your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP).

Both teams need to agree on your Ideal Customer Profile. Understanding your ICP will help you qualify leads.

Some possible criteria your sales and marketing teams can use to identify your ICP is:

  • Industry or industries you want to target
  • Company size
  • Company revenue
  • Geography
  • Lifecycle stage
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Do you need a bit more guidance on building your ICP? We have a template for that too.

Step 2 (But Deeper): Build Your Lead Scoring Criteria.

Now your sales and marketing teams need to work together to build lead scoring criteria.

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Use our SLA template and HubSpot’s awesome guide to basic lead scoring to set the rules. Lead scoring is useful when a prospect becomes an MQL and helps you determine that they are ready to be handed over to the sales team for followup.

Step 3: Establish the MQL Goal For the Quarter.

This one goes back to step 1 – determine the number that will help keep your marketing team accountable. Establish a SMART goal that your marketing team can use to build an effective inbound marketing strategy.

This goal should keep the following in mind:

  • Sales revenue goals
  • Marketing budget
  • Past marketing numbers
  • Size of the sales team
  • Size of the marketing team

Step 4: Establish the Lead Hand-Off Process.

Your sales and marketing teams need to decide how the hand-off will work and BE SPECIFIC. You need to set up an automated workflow in your CRM. We use HubSpot for this.

For example:

When a contact has reached a lead score of X, an email will be sent to the sales team with a task automatically assigned to them to accept the MQL as an SQL or disqualify it.

Step 5: Establish the Sales Engagement Flow and Agreement

This will provide the guidelines that’ll help keep your sales team accountable. Establish reasonable guidelines for your sales team to follow when they are assigned new MQLs.

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For example:

  • Sales will contact the MQL within 24 hours by phone/email

Once you finish these steps, print it and share it with your sales and marketing team.

But Wait – There’s More

Measure MQL to SQL performance

Make sure your teams are tracking their performance throughout the quarter and following through on their service law agreement. Measure metrics such as:

  • How many MQLs converted to SQLs?
  • How many MQLs became sales?
  • Which campaigns or offers drove the most leads to customers?

Ultimately the goal is to get your sales team and marketing team to stop pointing the finger and start working together. Call it a Snack Level Agreement if you want – anything to get your marketing and sales teams into a room together and on the same page, just make sure you actually have snacks.

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