The relationship between Sales and Marketing is pivotal to your ability to grow your business, yet very often it’s strained – or worse. Sales and Marketing are each seen to chase their own narrow objectives at the cost of the big picture and the company overall. Sometimes it seems like they’re talking an entirely different language, which when it comes to KPIs and definitions they often are.
Depending on your industry you might have come across SLAs with customers, but an internal SLA between your sales and marketing department could be just what you need.
A Service Level Agreement sets out what two parties can expect from each other, in order to assure aligned expectations, common goals and ways of working together.
The experience of prospective customers to your company will often begin with Marketing before transitioning to sales and sometimes back again multiple times. Making this a seamless and frictionless journey for customers does not usually happen automatically and takes effort as well as a true end to end vision of the customer journey. Marketing relies on sales to deliver and vice versa. need to come together to make your plan work.
1. Customer personas
Who are the customers who you are going after, and do Sales and Marketing share a common understanding of the relative importance, the characteristics and the buying preferences of these personas? At a high level, these are fundamental decisions to make in your Commercial Strategy – The SLA should just be finessing understanding of these prospects.
2. Aligned metrics and definitions
While not the most exciting thing to do, ensuring 100% alignment on detailed definitions and a cross-functionally coherent set of metrics are the foundation of good cooperation. From end to end of the customer acquisition journey, there should be one set of Business Results, Objectives and Activities which comprise a concrete plan of what needs to be done at what quality levels to hit revenue and profitability targets.
3. Process and data requirements
In a world of agile improvement and experimentation, process has become a bit of a bad word. When it come to your Commercial engine, having a clear process ensures that you are getting the most out of your sales funnel and not wasting effort. With a particular focus on hand-off points between marketing and sales (and vice versa), your process will eliminate friction and also allow you to scale your commercial operations as your business grows. CRM and predictive analytics are increasingly important tools to drive business growth, and so your process should include clear expectations of what data marketing and sales are expected to collect at each stage of the customer acquisition journey as well as throughout (and after) the customer relationship.
4. Operating Rhythm (reports, meetings, SLA review)
While you can go part-way to solving issues between functions simply by writing out a document, a lot is inevitably down to personal relationships. Get your Sales and Marketing “singing off the same hymnsheet” by designing the right series of reports, meetings and a periodical review of the SLA so that your commercial leadership have plenty of opportunities to share issues and problem solve together.