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Sales to Marketing Handover & SLA

Renat ZubayrovRenat Zubayrov

The most important and effective way to build a high-performing team is to communicate business goals for all employees, noting 69% of companies. But only 7% of workers know what they need to do to improve their goals. Disconnection is enormous!

Misalignment between sales and marketing is the biggest challenge for many companies to connect teams from strategy to process - according to a LinkedIn survey, more than 60% of global respondents believed that. But what are the typical problems that we see in practice?

The problem: lead response time

A few years ago, Harward Business Review published research on the average first response time of B2B companies - results were pretty staggering. According to the research average first, the lead response time was whopping 42 hours; however, the variance was also very high:

  • 37% of companies responded to their leads within an hour
  • 16% of companies responded within one to 24 hours
  • 24% of companies took more than 24 hours
  • 23% of the companies never responded at all

(source Harvard Business Review)

It's a problem because the quality of lead degrades over time. A good sales lead can become a lousy lead three days from now. Dr. James Oldroyd published the Lead Response Management Study, which shows company sales representatives have a short amount of time to respond before their leads become "cold."

This research found

The odds of making a successful contact with a lead are 100 times greater when a contact attempt occurs within 5 minutes, compared to 30 minutes after the lead was submitted. Similarly, the odds of the lead entering the sales process, or becoming qualified, are 21 times greater when contacted within 5 minutes versus 30 minutes after the lead was submitted.

(Oldroyd, 2007)

But this is only the story's beginning - B2B buyers are just regular people who consume content differently now. With a massive amount of information, buyers can spend many hours researching and reading through various vendor-created and independent content, so up to 60% of the sales cycle remains 'invisible' to regular sales teams. Vendors need to make extra efforts to meet buyers where they are, and reaction time is also becoming a significant competitive advantage. For example, research on InsideSales.com shows that up to 50% of sales go to the vendor that responds first.

So if you think that one or another feature of your product can make a significant difference, especially in today's competitive environment, you might need to think again.

Solution: Sales and Marketing alignment with SLA

As you can already see, not only the individual performance of the marketing department (like the number of marketing qualified leads or MQLs) or performance of the sales department (like close rates) are essential, but also an alignment between these two departments. If marketing generates too many leads, these won't be able to be processed by the sales teams in time. At the same time, if the sales pipeline is not filled with fresh leads in time, sales performance will drop, and revenue growth will slow down.

The simplest way to align sales and marketing efforts is by creating a Service Level Agreement (SLA) that sets clear expectations and responsibilities between marketing and sales.

What is the sales-marketing SLA?

SLA serves for internal operations between departments and exactly defines what a customer will receive as a service. SLA helps marketing and sales understand their role in achieving company goals.

The main point in SLA is marketing promising a countable number of leads to sales, and sales promising to contact those leads within a specific timeframe.

Also, the SLA agreement can exist between a business and its customers or one department that delivers a recurring service to another department within that business.

To create the simplest version of an SLA, you need to know three things:

  1. the average conversion rate from lead to opportunity
  2. the average conversion rate from an opportunity to a closed sale
  3. the average value of a sale

How-to measure SLA compliance?

"If you can't measure it, you can't manage it" - the immortal words of Peter Drucker.

Measuring the SLA can be tricky. Start with analyzing your marketing and sales channels, for example:

  • Do you have a contact form with a quote request? If yes, measure how long it takes your sales team to get back to the lead. Also, note whether you reach out via phone call or email, or, ideally, both. Then take note of how persistent you are with follow-ups.
  • Do you have an outbound sales motion with BDR? Make sure to track the exact process and the time when BRD to AE handover happened. Ensure that information flow and handover criteria are defined and communicated to all parties involved.
  • Do you do online webinars or offline events? Ensure that such events are carefully planned, and sales / BDR capacity is (pre)-allocated for these. Remember - ROI of an event will be significantly lower if customer contact data is collected and won't be reached out on time.

SLA can be implemented in your CRM system. You can create a lead with specific status so that after that system automatically measure response time and create reports. Unfortunately, most CRMs on the market like Salesforce or HubSpot would require a custom configuration of Workflow / Flows and sometimes some custom coding to set up an SLA. RevOS significantly simplifies this process by providing ready-made templates and customizations for your CRM.

Configuring an SLA enables you to do a few key activities:

  • Send reminder emails to create tasks, prompting the actions you want to incentivize
  • Reassigning leads automatically if follow-up doesn't happen within the SLA time frame.
  • Monitor SLAs via a dashboard or report—managers can accurately track several aspects of team and individual performance in real-time
  • Report on key metrics like the number of open SLAs, how quickly your sales reps are responding to leads, and more

Automating lead processing with SLA eliminates the operational bottlenecks and human errors that result from manual processes, and it ensures no leads get left behind, either lost or forgotten.


In a competitive global marketplace, speed wins the GTM race more often than not. Fortunately, proven automation tools and tried-and-true tactics empower B2B revenue teams to improve their lead response efficiency and effectiveness.

Engaging with leads at the right time increase your conversion and provides a better customer experience for your prospects. It also builds your brand image while improving the return on your digital costs.

Further resources:

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