The Different Types of Sales and Marketing Relationships

Published on 26th May 2021

This insight post is a summary of the original blog post authored by Ashlyn Brewer of Standing Partnership. View the original post: The Four Different Types of Sales and Marketing Relationships.

In today’s landscape, it’s crucial for your company’s sales and marketing functions to work together as a team to remain competitive and reach company goals.  

In our increasingly competitive and digital world, companies need these two functions to operate as partners to succeed 

However, that vision is a world away for many companies. Instead of operating as partners, many are in one of three camps: 

  1. Adversarial Relationships  
  2. Subservient Relationships  
  3. Siloed Relationships  

 Standing Partnership breaks down each of these relationships and offer guidance for achieving a true sales and marketing partnership.  

Adversarial Sales and Marketing Relationships  

Adversarial sales and marketing relationships get all of the attention. When people talk about sales and marketing alignment, it evokes the idea of sales and marketing as natural enemies. And, unfortunately, this does happen. Sometimes sales and marketing functions compete for resources and leadership support. 

Often, these relationships are integrated into the organizational structure and culture. For example, when sales and marketing report to the CEO separately, with separate budgets, they can begin to feel competitive.  

We’ve even seen CEOs unknowingly feed into these adversarial relationships.  

In this situation, it’s hard to analyze and eliminate barriers to growth. Instead, it devolves into the blame game. This does little to generate alignment or better results, and doesn’t set a good foundation for growth.  

Subservient Sales and Marketing Relationships  

While adversarial sales and marketing relationships may get more attention, subservient sales and marketing relationships can be just as damaging to growth.  

In these relationships, marketing operates only as sales support. Usually this means that marketing creates collateral for the sales team and helps with tactical items. While they check things off of the list, they’re not participating in driving the business forward 

Subservient sales and marketing relationships often happen when companies underinvest in marketing.  

In an earlier era, marketing was “nice to have”, and sales did the heavy lifting. While salespeople wined and dined prospects in-person – marketing was an afterthought.  

The three-martini lunch and people who answer the phone may be gone for good. And yet, these traditional sales and marketing structures persist. 

While these companies may get exactly what they ask for from marketing, they don’t always know what to request. 

They’re also not well set up to adapt to a changing business climate, where online touchpoints increasingly make up a greater portion of the buyer’s journey. Strategies like digital advertising, account based marketing and marketing automation can all feel out of reach. Calculating ROI on the marketing spend can feel like a pipe dream. 

Learn more about siloed sales and marketing relationships and how you can achieve a true sales and marketing partnership in the full blog post The Four Different Types of Sales and Marketing Relationships.

Get more insights on branding and management.


Standing Partnership is a marketing and corporate communications consulting firm located in St. Louis that excels at strategy and execution. Since 1991, their consultants have worked with business leaders in agriculture, healthcare, professional services, manufacturing and other major industries to accelerate growth by tying marketing to the bottom line. Through messaging, brand identity, executive communications, stakeholder engagement, corporate social responsibility reporting, and crisis preparedness, Standing Partnership helps organizations gain market and societal acceptance. 

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