Inter-team dependencies regarding inbound lead follow up create a need for internal SLAs — or Service Level Agreements. In order for your sales operation to function, managers need to be as rigid about enforcing the SLAs with prospects as they would be for SLAs with customers who are up and running.
Here are two very important inside sales SLAs to consider:
- Response time for inbound leads
The specific response time will depend on the type of lead – certainly there will be inbound leads with a higher priority than others in terms of response time. For instance, those leads who request information about buying the product should have a faster response rate than those who are downloading a whitepaper off our website. HOWEVER — set an SLA for each type of lead. For example: A lead with X lead source should have a follow up action within X hours. Your Lead Qualifiers need to know what response time is expected of them, otherwise what you will get is a classic case of cherry picking — or only tending to those leads who show the most immediate promise. Without an SLA, many leads will fall through the cracks.
2. Response time for Qualified Opportunities passed along to Account Executives
If you have two separately functioning roles — Lead Qualifiers and Account Executives — your AEs need to have rules set in place as to their required follow up time with a qualified opportunity that has been passed along to them. For instance, if a Lead Qualifier has taken a lead from an unqualified lead to a qualified opportunity and is making an introduction between the decision maker and the Account Executive, the AE must reach out and make a point of contact within X hours — that would most likely be an email greeting, as the Lead Qualifier hopefully set up a next step call/demo in both parties’ calendars.
So how should you get the ball rolling with implementing SLAs asap?
Step 1: Determine all of your “front of funnel” SLAs
Step 2: Put the SLAs in writing (in your CRM and in your Sales Training Handbook), and explain to your sales team in person what the SLAs are, and why they exist
Step 3: Create metrics for the sales team in regards to the SLAs, hold all sales team members accountable, and discuss the progress on a weekly basis
Rule of thumb: All leads should be tended to within 24 hours. Beyond the 24 hour rule — the sooner the better. The time requirement for the SLA will depend on the capacity of your sales organization.
If you find that your Lead Qualifiers and/or Account Executives are not able to follow the SLAs, it can probably be pinpointed to one or more of these three reasons:
- Your SLAs are unrealistic
- Your team is over capacity
- Your Lead Qualifiers/AEs are not managing their time efficiently
In order for your expansion stage sales function to scale, it will be critical to determine proper SLAs, and for your entire team to be committed.
What other internal SLAs has your team established? Do you have any suggested SLAs for Sales to Account Management and/or Finance?