Creating a Service Level Agreement between Marketing Sales

Does your marketing department have a service-level agreement (SLA) with the sales department? Does marketing know the type of leads the sales team wants delivered?

We are currently revamping our lead hand-off process and nurture programs. As part of the process, I am having the sales team re-define what a qualified lead looks and feels like.

First, I made a distinction between a Sales Qualified Lead (SQL) and a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL). I believe this is important because marketing very rarely has a live conversation with a prospect. Rather, we collect information through forms, registration pages and other avenues. As a result, it is hard for us to collect Budget, Authority to buy, Need, Timeline for purchase (BANT), and related information on a form. Things like BANT are much better left to a phone discovery call. We may be able to collect one of those but the accuracy will be low.

For our purposes, we have defined a MQL as a lead that is ready for sales to call upon. We broke MQLs up into two different categories. The first category we loosely call “trigger events.” These are events and actions that a prospect could take that would immediately qualify them; a great deal of these trigger events revolve around BANT criteria. For example, if a prospect indicates they are ready to buy in the next one to six months, the sales team wants to engage the prospect with a phone call (we do some more sorting based upon number of employees as well on the back-end). Another example of a trigger event is if a prospect indicates they recently experienced pain with their current provider (conference failed, bad service, poor quality, lack of support).

The second category is a catchall for prospects that failed to meet a trigger event but based upon their profile and behavior warrant a call from a sales person. This is where the real conversations happen. What is the demographic profile of an MQL? What are their behavior patterns?

Our sales team is 15 people so we chose a subset of the 15 to participate in the MQL discussion to define this catchall category. After defining the MQL, the next step was to get affirmation from the entire sales team. Once completed, we need to define the level of effort that the sales team will put towards an MQL. I will discuss this in my next blog post. I would love to hear how you have defined qualified leads for your sales team and what your SLA process has been like. What roadblocks should I expect?

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