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SLA: Cumulative MQLs Delivered to Sales

May 23, 2013 | By Jay Famico

Service-level agreements (SLAs) between marketing and sales are sometimes perceived by sales as one-sided. It may appear as if sales must commit to a timeframe for leads to be accepted and processed and must follow rules for engaging leads (e.g. number of outreach attempts within a particular time period) while marketing doesn’t make any commitments or have any obligations – except making sure sales does what it committed to. Right? Wrong!

As I discussed in the blog post Service-Level Agreements: Not Just for Sales, marketing should use an SLA to make a commitment to sales, including a timeframe for newly generated leads (e.g. from an event) to be entered into the lead management process. Marketing should also specify the treatment these leads will receive (e.g. placement into a nurturing program). In addition to committing to a timeframe and engagement strategy for new leads, many marketing organizations commit to the cumulative number of marketing qualified leads (MQLs) they will deliver to sales. Note: The definition of an MQL should be agreed upon by marketing and sales and should be automated through a lead-scoring model.

This cumulative-MQL SLA component does not deal with the timeframe for MQL engagement, but with how many MQLs the marketing organization commits to send to sales during a specified time period. It can be made more precise by specifying the number of MQLs that will be delivered for different types of contacts (e.g. from a specific industry or for a particular solution). This can be valuable for organizations with several different product lines or business units.

The benefits of including in the SLA the cumulative number of MQLs to be delivered to sales include:

  • Alignment. Aligns sales, teleprospecting and marketing on how many MQLs marketing is expected to deliver. In doing so, it takes the revenue amount marketing has committed to and puts a line in the sand defining what it will take to get there.
  • Accountability. Provides a scorecard that can be used to measure marketing’s contribution to sales against an agreed-upon metric. This benchmark can then be used in discussions between marketing and sales (e.g. to discuss shortfalls in marketing contribution to the sales pipeline).
  • Scheduling. Helps with capacity planning. By understanding the total number of MQLs that marketing will provide, as well as how many MQLs will be sourced in each time period (e.g. quarter, month), lead-receiving functions (e.g. inside sales) can more effectively plan and allocate resources to accept and process these leads.
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