The Hatfields and the McCoys, Tom and Jerry, Coke and Pepsi… Let’s make sure sales and marketing don’t get added to this list of age-old rivals.

Sales and Marketing Alignment Doesn’t Have the Best History

It’s no secret that sales and marketing teams traditionally don’t get along. The friction typically goes something like this: The sales teams feels that the marketing team isn’t passing over quality leads, while the marketing team feels that the sales team isn’t properly following through on the leads it passes over. Of course this is just one example of many that illustrate the sales-marketing divide.

But one has to wonder why this friction has perpetuated itself for so long when having sales and marketing work in sync is key to growing the business and attracting new customers. In short, it’s because even though we all know that having sales and marketing at odds with one another is far from ideal, bridging the divide isn’t easy.

However, as we move into a new era in which digital reigns supreme, potential buyers are more informed than ever and sales cycles are increasingly longer, bringing sales and marketing together has never been more important. Fortunately, this alignment is also closer within reach than ever thanks to modern marketing automation technology that can integrate with CRM systems and help close the loop between sales and marketing teams.

As is the case with any initiative, technology is only one piece of the bigger picture. In this case, that bigger picture is full-fledged program that includes a marketing automation platform integrated with CRM as well as a program strategy and governance. And one key piece in all of that to help bridge the age-old divide between sales and marketing is a service level agreement (SLA).

Bridging the Sales and Marketing Divide with a SLA

Simply put, a sales and marketing SLA is an agreement between the two teams about what each will deliver to the other. For example, this SLA might include a goal for how many marketing qualified leads (MQLs) the marketing team will generate each quarter, how many of those leads the sales team will qualify and convert to opportunities and so on.

The goal of this type of sales and marketing SLA is to better align the two teams by ensuring they follow the same processes and work toward a common, agreed-upon goal. By providing this alignment, the SLA should help mend the relationship between sales and marketing and provide several business benefits, including improved conversion and drop off rates, as a result.

How to Develop a Sales and Marketing SLA

Developing and enforcing a sales and marketing SLA is definitely a big undertaking, but the benefits are well worth the effort. This process includes several steps that we can break into two different phases:

Phase 1: Get Everyone on the Same Page

Getting both teams on the same page is a critical first step in developing a SLA. As part of this phase, you need to:

Phase 2: Work Toward Defined and Common Goals

Once both sales and marketing are on the same page, you can then begin working toward a set of defined and common goals. As part of this phase, you need to:

Create a Strong Foundation for Growth

A closely-aligned sales and marketing engine can be a powerful tool for growing your business. By improving the relationship between these teams, you’ll very likely see better output from much of the same input, since marketing should have a clearer understanding of what sales is looking for and sales will have better insight into what marketing is passing over.