How to Make an SLA Between Marketing and Sales

A Service Level Agreement (SLA) between marketing and sales maybe just a one-pager, but it can be quite powerful. We recommend an SLA be made between the lead qualification team (which can be a subset of marketing) and the sales team to govern the process a lead goes through before handoff. Such an agreement can go a long way to put an end to the long-standing feud between marketing and sales. An SLA can help:sla between marketing & sales

In this post I run you through how you can go about making an SLA. Who Owns the SLA? While making the SLA will be collaborative process between marketing and sales, the demand generation director should make, own, and be responsible for the SLA. The buck stops with him/her. How to Make an SLA: the Process The demand generation director can set the ball rolling with a few conversations with sales leaders to understand company goals and division of labor between marketing and sales. Chalk out target markets, uniform lead definitions including those for Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL), Sales Accepted Lead (SAL) and Sales Qualified Lead (SQL). Then, prepare a first draft and run it by sales for feedback. What Should an SLA Contain? An effective SLA should touch upon the following:

  • Lead criteria: target market, company size, decision maker, business need felt, etc.
  • Possible exceptions to lead requirement.
  • Reasons for lead rejection.
  • What’s the process for leads that fall in grey areas?
  • Time frame for the lead qualification team to qualify a lead.
  • How many leads will marketing deliver in a week?
  • What % of leads will marketing contribute to the sales pipeline?
  • Specifics of the handoff process – in CRM? Who will receive emails?
  • Time frame for sales to follow up after handoff.

Keep it brief, 1-2 pages. Keep it simple. Make it easy for your lead qualification team to adopt. Also develop a system to gather daily feedback from sales on opportunities handed over. Is The SLA Set in Stone? No, it is subject to change based on changing company priorities as well as feedback from sales. While targets are unlikely to change, lead criteria could undergo change. Companies constantly explore new geographies, verticals, and market segments. Therefore, tweaks to lead criteria will be necessary from time to time. Sales feedback should be used to further refine your SLA, so that the opportunities you pass ultimately convert to top line growth.


By Tim Duranleau | April 24th, 2014 | Marketing

About the Author: Tim Duranleau

Tim Duranleau

Tim is a demand architect at CallidusCloud. Tim loves to help marketing managers set up their demand generation operations. What’s more, he is an expert at tweaking demand generation programs to streamline and optimize them for optimum results. His favorite word in marketing is funnel. And he is ever ready to help a marketer whose funnel is sick. Reach Tim at or on Twitter @DemandArchitect