What Are the Five Stages of B2B Sales Transformation?

January 15, 2019

You might have seen television commercials for a coffee creamer called “International Delight.” At the end of each one, the actor looks into the camera and says, “I expect to be delighted.” While the ads are quirky, the final line is very accurate in terms of what buyers — and not just coffee creamer fans — want today.

Today buyers expect, seamless, relevant, and personalized experiences whether they’re doing research on their own or have engaged with a salesperson. And if they don’t have great experiences with a B2B seller, they won’t hesitate to move on. In fact, a recent study from SiriusDecisions found 81% of B2B Buyers today base purchase decisions on buying experience, over product or price.  

To meet the changing expectations of buyers and continue to grow, organizations must mature how they sell. But focusing solely on the performance of your sales team won’t cut it. Why? Because sales maturity goes beyond your sales team. Instead, it must be driven throughout your entire organization.

Transforming your entire organization to mature the way you sell can seem like a pretty tall order. But sales transformation is achievable — as long as you take things one step at a time.

B2B Inside Sales

The first step toward sales transformation is to assess your sales maturity today. To help you do that, we developed the Showpad Sales Transformation Maturity Model. This model, based on the experience of veteran sales and marketing executives across multiple industries, will help you understand where you are today in terms of meeting buyer expectations — and where you can go. The model is visionary — meant to inspire and excite you about where your organization can go. But it’s also pragmatic, providing a step-by-step guide to get you there.

The Showpad Sales Transformation Maturity Model breaks the sales transformation journey down into these five stages:

  1. Start-up Selling
  2. Success Selling
  3. Scalable Selling
  4. Guided Selling
  5. Collaborative Selling

The Five Stages of Sales Transformation

Below is a summary of each stage of the Sales Transformation Maturity Model. Of course, there will be variations in each company’s journey. However, the descriptions of each stage will help you determine where your organization currently falls on the sales transformation journey, as well as where you can go in the future.

Start-up Selling

Your organization is just getting started. You’ve got a product, but no brand recognition. You’ve also have a few good sales people who spend their time creating presentations, cold calling, and learning a lot about your buyers.

Success Selling

You’ve had some initial selling success. You have an emerging brand identity and a growing marketing function focused on creating customer-facing content. You’ve started investing in CRM and other essential systems. Your experienced salespeople understand what works and share tribal knowledge to help the team achieve similar successes.

Scalable Selling

You have growing success and an increasing understanding of what drives that success, so you’re looking to scale. You’re making larger investments in backend systems. Increasingly, your marketing team is focused on protecting the brand and tying marketing efforts and content to revenue. Sales enablement is now a recognized function, with an emphasis on onboarding and training around product launches.

Guided Selling

Your sellers are able to articulate unique value to buyers and deliver interactive, personalized buyer experiences. Marketing efforts are increasingly segmented and personalized, and your company has a brand synonymous with customer-centricity. Marketing and sales have a strong relationship and co-own Account Based Marketing (ABM).

Additional investments are made in backend systems to automate workflows and to allow personalized marketing. Sales enablement expands to the entire customer-facing organization, maturing into a go-to-market enablement team that offers continual learning and situational coaching for each unique role on the go-to-market team.

Collaborative Selling

At this stage, your buyers can expect a seamless purchase journey, with consumer-like experiences blending self-service with high-value consultative selling. Your marketing and sales organizations act as a unified team, engaging C-level buyers with personalized content and dynamic systems. Sales enablement has evolved to offer personalized, real-time coaching for all customer-facing teams.

Start Transforming Your Sales

You now have a clear idea of where your organization falls on the sales transformation journey. What’s next? Download our latest eBook, The Showpad Sales Transformation Maturity Model. This eBook explores the organizational aspects that drive sales most and offers practical next steps to drive transformation at your organization and how you can start delighting your buyers at every stage of the journey. 

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