- Forrester Councils
- Councils Overview
- log in
Posted by Scott Santucci on August 14, 2010
There are other definitions floating out there about sales enablement – some are from our competitors, there is a Wikipedia definition, and several vendors in the space are promoting the phase pretty heavily.
Let’s start with how we decided we needed to invest a lot of cycles writing a big report about defining something some could argue was already defined.
One of the major debates we wrestled with internally at Forrester was the question: “Is sales enablement a role (a function within a company) or a task performed by people (things people do already, like build sales presentations). Based on our analysis and bias, we determined that sales enablement is a role, a function within an organization, albeit an emerging and poorly defined one. All of the tasks people perform to “help” sales, we now define as “sales support activities.”
With this backdrop, here are some data points to help you see why we believe our community needs a much meatier definition. Since publishing our first definition back in early 2009 I (or our team) have:
Scott, I Get It — You Talk To A Lot Of People — What’s The Point?
What’s common across the board is that to be successful with a sales enablement program, you need to develop a team to work across traditional organizational boundaries and reporting levels within your company — and that’s a big challenge. Consider:
Look, I’m a pragmatist. I realize you’re going to have to get started in your own group. But eventually, to be successful with sales enablement, you will need to break down the walls between organizational silos to get customers the information they need.
Did I Mention Customers?
Your buyers are really the core reason sales enablement needs to be tackled in a more holistic manner. Here are a few trends worth noting:
So Why Is “Sales Enablement” A Big Deal?
Go-to-market models always change during periods of disruption, and this economic downturn has been deep, long, and might not even be over. The more that buying organizations are forced to “do more with less,” the more they adopt different business patterns. Today, buyers are looking for business partners that will help them drive business results or outcomes — rather than bundle their products and services into “solutions.” As a result, Forrester sees a supplier caste system emerging.
So What Is Sales Enablement?
Forrester views sales enablement as the key linchpin required to help a B2B company bridge the gap between their business strategies and how they execute in the field. Too many common challenges (problems cross-selling, long sales cycles, declining win rates, margin pressure, getting average deal size up) can be traced back to the same source — the conversation between your client-facing people and the combination of stakeholders that represent your buyers.
We define sales enablement as:
Sales enablement is a strategic, ongoing process that equips all client-facing employees with the ability to consistently and systematically have a valuable conversation with the right set of customer stakeholders at each stage of the customer's problem-solving life cycle to optimize the return of investment of the selling system.
We recently published a large report (it’s over 20 pages, but don’t worry, it had 19 figures in it, so you can scan it quickly) that breaks these issues down and shines light on them. The document is divided into the following sections:
This past Monday, Savo sponsored an executive roundtable (I will try to blog on that later) where I facilitated a conversation around these topics with over 30 business leaders from companies like: Verizon, American Express, Morgan Stanley, IHS, ADP, SAP, Sungard, Honeywell, and JP Morgan Chase. Each attendee was given two pre-reads, with Sales Enablement Defined (our new report) being one of them. The feedback I received from those attendees on the report included:
We wrote this piece to provide purpose and guidance to the emerging sales enablement business discipline. We also expect this to spark debate and conversation within the community, so please give us feedback so we can continue to advance the cause.
Where Can You Get The Report?
Click here to access Sales Enablement Defined .
Forrester's CX Index
Predict how actions to improve CX will affect revenue performance.
Measure the customer experiences that matter most »
Free On-Demand and Live Events
Latest events from Forrester analysts, online and in person »