How To Negotiate A Peace Treaty With Sales

g2m negotiating an SLA with sales

We’ve all been here at some point. Sitting across the table from the sales team debating the root cause of the sales numbers.

“We need more leads!” cries the sales reps.

“Why aren’t you converting the leads we’re sending you?” replies marketing.

The sales team returns fire, “none of these leads are qualified!”

It’s tense.

Sales and marketing should be a unified front, working together to hit your business targets.

Instead they’re grossly misaligned and struggling to make any headway reaching business targets.

Waiving the white flag

So how can you reunite the teams? The key is a Service-Level Agreement (SLA).

An SLA is a contract which outlines a set of deliverables which one party must provide to the other. It can be formal or informal and can exist between a business and its clients or between internal departments like sales and marketing.

You’ve probably seen plenty of SLAs from your external suppliers, and internal SLAs are no different. Both sales and marketing will have a set of deliverables they are expected to fulfil for the other team.

How can an SLA support your sales and marketing teams?

Creating an SLA can be a little tedious. They require resources to get them over the line, meetings, number crunching, negotiations. All of this takes time, but the results they deliver can be significant.

The data speaks for itself:

  • Teams with SLAs see higher ROI from inbound marketing

  • Salespeople with SLAs call out marketing as the top generator of leads

  • Marketing teams with SLAs are more likely to get increased budgets

How you create a sales and marketing SLA that works

You’ll need to bring sales and marketing into one room to workshop roles, responsibilities, process, targets and accountability. At a minimum you want this to be done by your sales and marketing leaders.

What’s involved? You will need to outline the following:

  • Buyer Personas and Ideal Customer Profile

  • Set goals

  • Lead classification and handoff

  • Lead management policies

  • Performance metrics

  • The SLA review process

Buyer personas and ICP’s

What is your ideal customer profile, and who are your buyer personas. Having a crystal clear understanding of your customers is critical for a successful SLA. Without it your lead generation engine will fall apart.

Set Goals

Firstly, use our Funnel Velocity Calculator to work out exactly how many leads you need at each step of the funnel.

Once you know this, sales and marketing can be assigned goals, the S.M.A.R.T kind. For example:


  • Is going to produce [X number of leads] leads for [insert stage of the funnel]

  • Is going to produce [x number of leads] sales qualified leads (SQLs) per month


  • Is going to source [number of leads] leads for [insert stage of the funnel]

  • Is going to contact a new SQL in [defined amount of time]

Lead classification and handoff

Do sales and marketing have a rock solid (and unified) definition of classifying a contacts lifecycle stage. What constitutes a lead, a marketing qualified lead and a sales qualified lead? Define these stages. Write them down. Make sure everyone in both teams are across it.

Once you’ve got the classifications locked in. What does the handoff process look like when an MQL becomes an SQL?

Lead management policies

“You’re not following up on the leads we are sending you” cried marketing.

This is the part of the process where you stamp this behaviour out.

Set the standard of how should a lead be treated. When and how, and how often a lead should be contacted. It’s essential that you report on leads that are accepted and rejected so you can continue to refine your processes.

Performance metrics

Your SLA should clearly define the key performance indicators (KPIs) everyone in the team is working towards. Ensure you have processes in place to monitor these so you can identify any problems or opportunities. After all, you get what you measure.

The SLA review process

Your SLA is a fluid framework and needs to be reviewed after a period of time. Schedule a six monthly review to evaluate your targets and processes to make sure your SLA is delivering its goals.

How SLA’s achieve results

Clarity and alignment.

Data will replace debates.

And your sales and marketing teams should be on their way to alignment.

If you would like to set realistic targets for your sales and marketing teams take a look at g2m's free calculator. There are a number of supporting resources for you to access. Use this article and glossary of terms to help you complete the calculator.