Build a better service level agreement
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  • 1. C A T E G O R Y : M A R K E T I N G S T R A T E G Y, F I E L D M A R K E T I N G Build a Better Service-Level Agreement Getting b-to-b sales and marketing to align (e.g. demographics, firmagraphics or A key component of effective more closely has driven even the most capable answers to appropriate BANT-related ques- lead management is a series business leaders crazy for years. Team-building tions) or the achievement of scoring thresh- of service-level agreements exercises, sensitivity training, group therapy; olds/numeric values through a marketing (SLAs) that clearly define what hasn’t been tried? While artificially devel- automation platform (MAP). shared processes and oping mutual understanding and trust is defi- responsibilities nitely one method of trying to improve the rela- • Responsibilities/timeframes. Marketing tionship between the two functions, we believe should set boundaries for anticipated lead SLAs should focus on two key a far better way is through shared process that delivery timeframes, and the expected vol- lead passes; from marketing leads to results. ume of leads that will be delivered in order The creation of service-level agreements for the teleprospecting function to be prop- teleprospecting to (SLAs) within a broader lead management strat- erly prepared. Establish how leads will be field/channel sales egy is a perfect example of such process. When delivered (through what technologies and properly developed, they bind a number of func- in what particular format, including the If your organization builds a tions to one another around a common goal: components of a prospect’s record that will process for certain prospects The creation and movement of better-qualified be completed), and the amount of time a to bypass teleprospecting, prospects through the demand waterfall. In this teleprospector will have to begin working a separate rules will need to be brief, we examine two types of SLAs that are lead. Set guidelines for how marketing will built between marketing and required for effective demand creation, and handle rejected leads, and rules for pulling the field/channel identify key components and best practices for back leads from teleprospectors that are each. not processed in a timely fashion. ONE: MARKETING TO TELEPROSPECTING • Other rules. SLAs also should include The first SLA should be aligned with the time three other sets of rules that must be that marketing delivers a lead to a receiving agreed to by lead providers and receivers. function, most commonly teleprospecting. The First, establish the reasons why the receiv- components and specifics of the marketing/ ing function can reject a lead and thus not teleprospecting SLA should include: be bound to work it. Keep these reasons to to teleprospecting, and from a reasonable minimum: good examples • Program description. An overview of the include the delivery of an incomplete or demand creation program that includes inaccurate prospect record; a lead that has name, a brief executive summary and its been delivered to the wrong rep or func- goals. To this, add the marketing target tion; a deal that is already in progress, or a (e.g. vertical, sub-vertical, company size, lead that has previously been disqualified. job function), product/solution focus area, Next are the reasons the receiving function marketing team/lead provider and the can disqualify a lead after working it; these receiving team(s). also should be in well-defined categories (e.g. the rep could not reach the prospect • Lead definition. The characteristics or cri- after a certain number of attempts, lack of teria of a lead that will be passed from mar- budget). The third set of rules should be keting to teleprospecting. Leads can be established to determine when a prospect defined by identifying specific attributes might bypass the teleprospecting function © Copyright SiriusDecisions. All Rights Protected and Reserved. 1
  • 2. C A T E G O R Y : M A R K E T I N G S T R A T E G Y, F I E L D M A R K E T I N G and be delivered directly to the field or the channel. Often referred the field/channel is the last line of defense). Define the reasons why to as “route-around” rules, this may include leads that demonstrate field sales can reject a lead – similar reasons to the first SLA will extraordinarily high scores; prospects from named/strategic apply – as well as the eventual rules that can be used to reject a lead accounts; or those that explicitly indicate the desire to speak with a once it has been worked. The creation of a concise, intuitive set of sales rep. If your organization does route leads around the first line disqualification rules will set the foundation for the other type of of qualification defense, there should be a separate SLA established recycled lead nurturing (“active”), whereby leads are pushed back with the field or channel to ensure these leads are being processed into the MAP for nurturing until circumstances and behaviors correctly and within a desired timeframe. change enough for the prospect to be submitted once again into teleprospecting for requalification. TWO: TELEPROSPECTING TO SALES The second SLA should be aligned with the time that teleprospecting SLA BEST PRACTICES delivers a lead to the ultimate receiver, that being either a field or chan- Effective SLAs are not only built on the components above; those func- nel sales resource. The components and specifics of the teleprospecting/ tions that create them must adhere to a number of strategic watch- sales SLA should include: words, including: • Program description. Since this is simply a later stage in the same • Focus. If you want an SLA followed, keep it as concise as possi- program, map this section to the description for the previous SLA. ble. The more nuances and exceptions that are built in means that One exception will be that different functions are involved, and the functions bound by them only wind up becoming confused, should therefore be defined differently. and eventually resisting the entire process out of frustration. If the SLA component isn’t judged to be critical by both sales and market- • Lead definition. Much like the previous SLA, this section lays out ing, leave it out. the criteria that trigger a second lead handoff. Whereas the marketing/teleprospecting definition is increasingly being defined by the • Evolution. SLAs should be living documents that are adjusted over establishment of a lead score, the second handoff is typically dom- time based on program performance metrics, data and feedback. inated by qualification components being identified and/or verified For example, after a program has begun, marketing may determine by a human being through actual conversation. The definition of a that reaching the pre-defined score threshold for passing leads to lead at this stage is also commonly accompanied by a committed teleprospecting isn’t feasible. In these cases, the threshold should next step; for example, the setting of an appointment between be adjusted downward, with teleprospecting taking on additional prospect and field rep or channel partner. qualification responsibilities. • Responsibilities/timeframes. Similar to the first SLA, set bound- • Enforcement. SLAs are only effective if those that are bound by aries for anticipated lead delivery timeframes, and the expected vol- them are held responsible for following them. This requires insight ume of leads that will be delivered. Establish how these leads will via regular reporting of key performance metrics for each involved be delivered, ensuring specific components of a prospect’s record function, as well as agreement between leaders – usually the chief will be completed in the SFA system so that field reps and channel marketing officer and the chief sales officer – on how a lack of partners have all they need to take the baton and run with it. Set adherence will be addressed. If field sales reps consistently take guidelines for the amount of time a rep or partner will have to longer than the defined timeframe to accept leads, clear steps to begin working a lead, as well as the time that will be allotted to manage the problem must be defined, including conversations with either promote the lead to an opportunity with anticipated dollar reps, alerting sales leaders, adjustment of timeframes or disciplinary value and timeframe to close, or to disqualify the lead and place it action. into a lead nurturing program. Create rules for pulling back leads that have not been promoted or disqualified back into teleprospect- • Ownership. While a variety of sales and marketing roles must be ing (a process we refer to as “passive” recycling). involved in creating SLAs, it’s usually marketing and sales operations that take responsibility for their ongoing maintenance. Marketing • Other rules. Two out of the three other rule families set forth in and sales leaders should sign SLAs and be responsible for commu- the previous SLA apply here (route-around rules drop out because nicating their contents and importance to their respective teams. © Copyright SiriusDecisions. All Rights Protected and Reserved. 2
  • 3. C A T E G O R Y : M A R K E T I N G S T R A T E G Y, F I E L D M A R K E T I N G THE SIRIUS DECISION defined boundaries around what each party must commit to in order to Systematic, repeatable b-to-b demand creation is much like a marriage. keep the relationship strong. Should either get cold feet and not be will- The creation of a series of SLAs acknowledges the relationship that must ing to commit, we’re pretty sure both will wind up in therapy – or worse be forged between the two functions to drive this success, and puts – down the road. © Copyright SiriusDecisions. All Rights Protected and Reserved. 3