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Why you need SLAs for your sales team

3 min readAugust 16, 2019

It’s common to use service level agreements (SLAs) in customer contracts or vendor relationships to clearly define the obligations of involved parties. SLAs can also be powerful internally as well, especially in a sales team.

SLAs serve two purposes. The first is to define roles within the areas of overlap between different reps. Many teams have both inbound and outbound SDRs, as well as AE’s. In these situations, an SLA is used to define which reps handle what leads, what exactly defines a qualified lead, what a handoff looks like, what AE to pass them too, as well as when and where.

The second purpose of an SLA is to clearly state sales activity requirements in order to guarantee performance. Sales teams and reps can use SLAs agree on exactly how many calls reps should make, messages they send, conversations they have, and their expected outcomes.

Solid SLAs prevent unnecessary disagreements and finger-pointing within your team. In fact, according to HubSpot’s State of Inbound 2017, organizations with an SLA are three times more likely to be effective. Here are the basics of an SLA so you can create one with your team.

What is a service level agreement?

An SLA are rules of engagement that clearly state the who, what, when, where and why of interactions between two or more parties. They define what each of those parties will provide each other with/ Some of the details included in these rules are:

  • Summary of the agreement
  • Key definitions of important terms like sales qualified lead
  • Goals of both parties
  • Responsibilities of both parties
  • Reporting frequency and metrics to track (plus who tracks them)
  • Consequences of failure to meet targets and how injured parties are compensated
  • Conditions to terminate or update the SLA

The goal is to ensure things run smoothly and eliminate guesswork when issues arise.

Prevents confusion

Service level agreements for your sales team prevent confusion. They include clear definitions of terms such as sales qualified lead. Plus exact procedural steps such as when an SDR to AE handoff takes place are designated. Having everyone on the same page allows day to day processes to run more efficiently.

Defines expectations

Since goals are broken down in SLAs, they ensure everyone knows how much activity is required to meet their goals while supporting others. For example, if an AE closes 50% of the SQLs handed off to them and they need to close 50 to meet their goal, then they need to receive 100 sales qualified leads during that timeframe. There are no excuses for anyone pleading ignorance because all parties are aware of these facts. Plus it keeps everyone focused on the goals, simplifying prioritization of key tasks.

Designates responsibilities

Not only are targets incorporated in service level agreements, they clearly state who owns what activity and when. For example, an SDR may be required to document specific information in CRM prior to handing off a lead to an AE. Without this information, the AE might not be able to advance a lead to a successful close.

Creates accountability

Service level agreements create accountability and prevent finger-pointing. Having responsibilities clearly stated allows individuals to know what must be done to reach goals. Plus, there is no doubt what the outcome might be when targets are hit.

SLAs also state the ramifications of failure to comply as well as how the injured party will be compensated. For example, if SDRs are receiving an insufficient number of marketing leads and are not generating the specified number of SQLs for AEs then marketing would be where adjustments are needed. However, an SDR receiving the proper number of leads, but falling short of the required number of SQLs to handoff to AEs would mean that the SDR needs to improve. So if the AE falls short of their goal as a result, they would not be 100% responsible because it was out of their control. The idea is to get to the root of issues quickly, resolve them and resume smooth, productive operations.

Service level agreements with your sales team prevent misunderstandings and finger-pointing while increasing productivity. They result in seamless, lower stress sales operations that hum along like a well-oiled machine. Create and implement yours today.