What Are The 5 Stages of Sales and Marketing Alignment?

May 3, 2019

Your company spends countless hours building and optimizing great products that solve your customers’ challenges. What’s more, you work hard to ensure these products are priced right to effectively compete with other businesses with similar offerings. But that’s not  to guarantee companies will succeed and grow.

Research tells us that experiences play a large (and growing) role in the purchase decisions of B2B buyers, even more than other factors like product and price. In fact, the experiences buyers have with your company — both while doing their own research and interacting with one of your reps — have the power to make or break a sale. The pressure’s on for organizations to start delivering the very best buying experiences.

While many elements factor into the experiences a customer has with your company, experiences are primarily driven by your marketing and sales organizations. After all, these are the teams interacting with buyers on a daily basis and developing content and experiences to effectively reach them at all stages of the buying cycle.

Sales and Marketing Alignment

Although  the individual maturity of these teams certainly plays a role in how well your organization does (or doesn’t) meet changing buyer expectations, another critical factor is how these two teams work together. We call this sales and marketing alignment, or sales-marketing alignment.

Your sales and marketing teams must work in tandem  to ensure they are focusing on the same customers with the right messaging and content, investing resources where they will have the most impact, and delivering a seamless buying experiences that will differentiate your organization from the competition.

The Five Stages of Sales-Marketing Alignment

The alignment of your sales and marketing teams plays a key role in your customers’ experiences. As such, focusing on improving this alignment can have a big impact on the success of your business. Before you develop a plan to improve this key partnership, it’s important to assess what your organization’s sales-marketing alignment looks like today.

Below is a summary of the five stages of sales-marketing alignment, drawn from the Showpad Sales Transformation Maturity Model, to help you access your current maturity and understand where you can go in the future.

Stage 1: Start-Up Selling

Your organization is just starting out, and your salespeople often do their own marketing. If there is a marketing function, it’s likely focused on a website and collateral. During this stage of transformation, very few metrics are tracked.

Stage 2: Success Selling

During this stage, your marketing and sales teams are often at odds. Marketing is focused on driving leads and building the brand. Sales wants more leads and doesn’t have confidence in the data marketing provides.

Stage 3: Scalable Selling

Once you’ve reached this stage, your marketing and sales teams have begun to partner up, sharing ownership of pipeline and revenue. The teams jointly develop and agree on plans for different customer segments. Some demand generation programs are jointed owned and managed. In addition, marketing delivers content that sales and buyers find valuable.

Stage 4: Guided Selling

Your marketing and sales organizations continue to deepen and strengthen their partnership, working together to execute account-based marketing and a more sophisticated channel strategy. The two teams work together to provide interactive and personalized buyer experiences. The lines between marketing and sales are blurred. For customers, these lines are invisible.

Stage 5: Collaborative Selling

Your buyers have come to expect a seamless purchase journey, with consumer-like experiences throughout. Your marketing and sales organizations act as one team, engaging C-level buyers with personalized content and dynamic systems.

Evolve Your Sales and Marketing Alignment — and Transform the Way You Sell

You probably now have a good idea of where your organization currently falls in terms of sales and marketing alignment, and you understand the key role this partnership plays in scaling your organization’s sales success. What now?

Download our latest eBook, Roadmap to Sales + Marketing Alignment, to learn six practical steps you can take to evolve your organization’s sales and marketing alignment — and start delivering better experiences that win buyers.

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