Leads: Where Marketing and Sales Come Together-ish
Maybe I’m the last guy on the block, but I recently picked up on some of my teenagers’ latest lingo. Apparently, it’s really cool to add the suffix “ish” to the end of any statement, implying… “not so much.”
So, I applied it to the headline for this month’s Messaging Feed. It seems appropriate when describing the relationship between Marketing and Sales and how so-called sales leads are to be handled.
One of the emerging approaches for making sure only quality leads get to the field, and then holding the field accountable for acting on those leads, is the concept of a Service Level Agreement (SLA). SLAs have been used for years in various industries to create accountability around performance. Now, they’ve made their way into the area of sales lead management. The idea is to align Marketing and Sales around a process for nurturing leads and opportunities throughout the buying cycle, getting that process in writing, then having everyone agree to and sign the SLA.
A typical SLA could include agreement on the quantity and qualification of leads Sales can expect from Marketing, expectations for Sales follow-up on those leads, timing of when a lead should be recycled back to Marketing, and how Marketing receives credit for closed business.
But do SLAs work?
We put the question out to all of you in a recent poll. Here’s what you told us:
- 74% of you indicated that your organization does not have a SLA, or you’ve never heard of it.
- Of those that did have an SLA, 70% saw some increase in the quality and qualification of leads after your organization implemented it.
- 59% of you say that Marketing misses the mark when it comes to creating and distributing messages and tools that help Sales follow-up with leads in the early stages.
We’ve put an SLA in place here at Corporate Visions for our Marketing and Sales departments. Here’s what we discovered. It’s not the SLA document itself that drives greater alignment or an increase in lead quality and qualification. It’s the rigorous, painful process Marketing and Sales teams push through in order to develop the SLA and enforce it.
Here’s an interesting outcome. We discovered that we passed only 1/3 as many leads from Marketing to Sales during the first six months of this year vs. last year. It’s not because we developed fewer leads. We just applied a more extensive qualification and nurturing process. Despite getting significantly fewer leads from Marketing, the amount of business closed by our salespeople from Marketing-sourced leads is up by 35%.
Fewer, higher-quality leads create more revenue. Imagine that.
So, if your company needs to get Marketing and Sales closer together-ish… consider a lead management SLA. There could be some interesting outcomes for your effort.
- Tim Riesterer, CMO and SVP Strategic Consulting and Products