There is perhaps no bigger cliché in the business world than the gap between sales and marketing. We won’t even go there today; there’s already an abundance of material discussing this topic in depth. Instead, this article is about a different area of misalignment that gets significantly less attention: the growing gap between sales development and quota-carrying sales. Some companies refer to the former as lead qualification, others call it business development; it is the role that initiates the B2B sales process and either schedules an appointment or passes off a fully qualified opportunity to a quota carrying seller.
This portion of the funnel is arguably the fastest growing function in the modern B2B sales organization. However, with any new role (or department) also comes occasional friction. Sales development and quota carrying reps sometimes multiply one another’s efforts, and sometimes they get in each other’s way. In order to alleviate this friction, you first need to identify the source.
With so many variables, what can sales leaders do? There’s a simple answer that already exists between other different functions of business: create a Service Level Agreement (SLA). A documented set of rules, guidelines, and expectations between the two parties removes gray area and leaves as much black and white as possible. The key to crafting an SLA is to have representation from both parties in the same room to come to a fair and agreeable compromise. All requests are heard and considered before negotiating what goes into the “contract.”
Let’s assume that your team is comprised of an inside sales development group that passes meetings to the field reps. In this scenario, the typical elements of an SLA between inside and field sales would be:
An SLA is only effective if people follow the rules. Surprisingly, some companies allow sales development as an ‘opt in’ program for the field – meaning it’s up to the seller if they work with business development. But, as we acknowledged earlier, a great SDR/seller relationship can quickly multiply results.
A client success manager we’ve worked with summed it up best: “The most important thing in [the SDR/seller] relationship is to communicate, even over communicate. There are plenty of ‘gray areas’ in our business, but when there is great communication between the SDRs and the salespeople, the gray areas are minimized substantially and goals become aligned.” An SLA is a valuable tool for facilitating great communication and clarity at your sales organization.