Sales Enablement Is Coming Of Age And Becoming Clearer

These are exciting times for me, Peter O’Neill, as I ramp up my new position here at Forrester.  I must say, my Research Director predecessor was very visionary to use the sales enablement (SE) term at all over three years ago - the first thing I’ve learned is that our sales enablement clients are hardly ever called that .  As Scott Santucci writes in his new report: Clarity Is Key To Sales Enablement Success, “The number of sales enablement positions and interest in the topic have exploded over the past five years, yet many questions remain about what it is or which organization should own it “.  Even at the SE Forum this March, only 25% of the attendees had SE in their job title - other job titles that appear in the attendees list include various marketing positions, strategic roles such as CEO, CIO or chief strategy officer, and even sales management themselves.  Ultimately, we are helping all business people involved in enabling their client-facing employees to have valuable conversations with various sets of customer stakeholders.  I am sure that the attendee list at next year’s Forum will also be mixed: it is early days but I suggest you block your calendar now. Colleague Mark Lindwall  has just published the first of several reports on the topic of sales force development activities such as hiring, training and coaching.

Over the past few years, Scott and his colleagues have been very active helping companies create sales enablement programs through advisory or even detailed consulting engagements.  His new report cites many best practice examples of how firms have eliminated unnecessary and wasteful spending on sales support; improved sales effectiveness; and established a common definition for SE across organization silos.  It lists a total of 67 companies they’ve been working with, an unusually long list for a Forrester report, but deliberately so as an acknowledgement – it includes the early adopters of strategic sales enablement programs and working with these companies has provided us with a strong knowledge foundation and network. 

But we are now going to switch gears and focus more on preparing a rich library of Forrester reports over the next several months to leverage all these experiences, backed up through additional research, that will help all Forrester subscribers who want to know about sales enablement. Below are the groups of questions that our clients have told us they would like to read about. Each research thread will become a series of reports about the associated business processes; and related organizational challenges; as well as describe the technology landscapes of software vendors and service providers. 

So, in the next weeks we will be updating our 12-month research agenda, which is available to any Forrester client, with report titles aligned to these threads. They are also the basis for the inquiry and advisory topics that we can cover.   If you are a marketing or strategy professional involved in sales enablement activities, please take a look at the list and give us feedback. Is there something we have missed?  Do you use different terms in your company?   

As always, I’d love to hear from you on this and other topics.   Always keeping you informed! Peter

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