We know it’s extremely important to maintain open and regular communication with clients. Each team should be consistently tracking their efforts and goals and addressing any concerns along the way. Due to time restraints and other factors, that rarely happens – and that’s where a Service-Level Agreement steps in.
As sales professionals, we love annual contracts because we know that clients are going to spend throughout the course of a year. However, we cannot become apathetic and only talk to clients once a year.
Avoid Apathy and Establish Accountability
Dictionary.com defines apathy as absence or suppression of passion, emotion, or excitement.
Some advertisers are demonstrating apathy in the sense that they work hard to seal the deal, but they just check the box off and move on to the next conquest. This must stop!
To avoid apathy and set a clear understanding of the service to be delivered, a Service-Level Agreement is a vital piece of the process. This doesn’t mean stop fostering communications, trust, and mutual growth once the contract is signed and/or renewed.
The goal of this agreement is to have a straightforward description in plain language that all parties understand to set expectations and establish accountability throughout the duration of a client's contract.
Why Use a Service-Level Agreement?
A Service-Level Agreement (SLA) is a contract that clearly defines:
- Scope of services to be rendered
- Quality standards of those services
- Who is responsible for delivering those services
- Time frames in which those services will be completed
By nature, the SLA outlines every parties' responsibilities, and everyone signs off on their outlined obligations (yes, even the client's obligations). The most important parts of an SLA include:
- Establishing a time frame for milestones and benchmarks
- Formulating a document that ensures trust, assuming everyone has met their end of the agreement
- Creating a standardized process of communication to see which amendments need to be made to the document.
SLAs are very impressive, and they not only add value and enhance your relationship, but they make the annual contract worth more. The SLA reminds everyone involved that they have responsibilities throughout the year, and prevents them from being apathetic and focused on (or distracted by) other things.
What is the Importance of Service-Level Agreements in the B2B Industry?
- SLAs are the client’s safety net of accountability
- SLAs improve revenue and retention
- SLAs create clear and defined communication boundaries
Keep Consistent and Meaningful Contact with Clients
Communicate these topics with the client over time to deliver solid service:
- Be in touch with changes in their business over time
- Bring new ideas and solutions to them where they can see a direct return on investment
You need to have these interactions over time and not post-pone these interactions. This could lead to unwanted surprises at renewal time.
Good, consistent communication is crucial to sales success, and a good SLA will not only clearly define services and establish expectations of both parties, but will help to continually build on and improve the relationship with a client, thus improving retention rates, and possibly helping grow accounts.