Marketing and sales departments have what some might call a contentious history. In most cases there is little to no alignment between the two groups, which limits a company’s revenue growth. Even though marketing and sales alignment is not a new concept, especially in an inbound organization, according to HubSpot’s 2018 State of Inbound Report, just 26% of respondents have a service level agreement (SLA) in place between marketing and sales. The benefits of an SLA are significant, with the resulting alignment driving increased revenue. In fact, 65% of respondents with tightly aligned marketing and sales teams believe inbound marketing increases their ROI.
But it’s not just about driving revenue growth. It’s about achieving that growth the right way. It’s about “growing better.” SLAs are based on the principle of working together, but not just to achieve sales numbers. The spirit of an SLA is also about helping each other, building trust, and adding value to what you are providing before seeking your own results. A marketing and sales SLA allows you to do this. If you’re part of the 74% of organizations where marketing and sales aren’t aligned, here are 5 reasons you should invest the time and energy into getting an SLA in place in in Q4 – so you can start your 2019 planning off on the right foot and be well positioned to achieve those goals.
1. Marketers who have SLAs in place with their Sales teams are more confident in their strategies
The State of Inbound reports 69% of marketers with an SLA believe leads coming from marketing activities are high quality. And why shouldn’t they? If you know exactly what’s expected of you there’s no reason to lack confidence in what you provide to your sales team. More confident marketers lead to better results. It’s a cyclical effect that will in turn result in more confidence, better strategies, and once again, better results.
2. Marketers with SLAs say they provide high quality leads to Sales — and Sales agrees!
It’s no secret, sales and marketing teams are not always the best of friends. In misaligned organizations there can be finger pointing and name-calling, and the result is two key drivers of revenue growth moving in opposite directions. If you can bridge that divide by creating an SLA to align both departments around the same business growth goals, why wouldn’t you? If sales and marketing begin operating as a true TEAM, the sky's the limit. In fact 39% of sales respondents who have an SLA with their marketing organization felt the marketing leads were higher quality than direct cold call leads.
3. Teams with SLAs recognize higher ROI from their inbound marketing efforts
What marketer doesn’t love to share positive ROI numbers with leadership? In fact, the trackability of inbound marketing ROI is one of its biggest benefits! When aligned teams work together toward the same, agreed upon goals, of course they’ll boost their results. An SLA makes higher ROI possible because when sales agrees with marketing on the definitions of marketing- and sales-qualified leads, they are more likely to follow up and see the process through, resulting in more customers. The research proves it: 65% of aligned teams see increased ROI from inbound marketing efforts versus just 35% in organizations with no SLAs.
4. Sales teams are more likely to grow when there’s an SLA
I hate to state the obvious here, but when sales teams can’t keep up with the number of qualified leads, more team members need to be added. And you can have confidence the added staff is justified because you have agreed on what constitutes a sales qualified lead (SQL). That leaves no room for anyone to come back and question the need for more sales professionals. An amazing 70% of organizations with SLAs grow their sales team as the result of tightly aligned strategies with their marketing team.
5. Marketing teams with SLAs are more likely to get increased budgets
What marketer wouldn’t love a bigger budget to do more and get more leads for sales as a result? If the leads provided by marketing meet the quality standards established as part of an SLA, and as a result, more prospects become customers and ROI increases, it makes sense to do more of what’s working. Once again, the stats don’t lie: marketing teams with an SLA report an increased inbound marketing budget 52% of the time.
With all this data to support it, why wouldn’t you invest the time and money to get an SLA in place? There is no downside. HubSpot doesn’t mince words about the benefits of SLAs in its 2018 State of Inbound Report:
“Teams with SLAs between sales and marketing have better cooperation and performance. Marketing teams understand the impact of their strategy, and sales appreciates the leads they receive from marketing. Joint SLA efforts lead to growth.”
With an SLA in place, every marketing and sales team member understands what is happening for lead gen and that they are working toward the common good of the entire organization. Placing long-term relationships ahead of short-term gains. Filling funnels with quality leads. It’s about growing. But better.
Posted by Stacy Bouchard Stacy Bouchard is a Strategist at Weidert Group. After twenty years marketing manufacturing, A/E/C, and service companies, Stacy dived into inbound marketing in 2014, and has since become an expert in HubSpot and inbound strategy.