Forrester's Sales Enablement Conference Will Be About Selling In The New Economy

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.”   

        -  Robert Frost

In today’s dramatically changing world, many of you are also at a metaphorical fork in the road. 

The path most traveled represents squeezing that last ounce of productivity from the tried-and-true practices that got you to where you are today. 

The other path is being set by trailblazers who recognize that the economy is resetting itself and new go-to-market models are emerging. 

Simply put, it’s a race to see who can develop a selling system that allows client-facing people to add more value to clients, at every interaction. These value-exchange patterns are different based on your customer types, the problems you help address, and the role your organization plays in solving them.

I am excited to be telling you about our first sales enablement conference, which will be held in downtown San Francisco February 14th and 15th. Over the summer, our team has been at work putting together a truly exciting and innovative agenda for our forum. Here are a few of the great topics we are working on:

  • What do buying executives actually think of how they are engaged by sellers? There’s a lot of talk about getting sales and marketing to sing off the same page, but what is the song? Any kind of alignment should start with buyers, and we are going to present a mountain of buyer insights that in many ways are jaw-dropping.
  • What does your CEO expect from your selling and marketing efforts? CEOs are caught between their investors’ expectations of more profitable growth and the increasing perception of being mere commodities from buyers. George Colony (our founder and CEO) will share results from his exclusive chief executive research project and provide you with what’s on the mind of your CEOs.
  • Where is sales enablement heading, and how do you get started? We’ve been working closely with many leading companies to figure out new ways to develop more adaptive go-to-market models designed to help sales organizations add more value to executive-level buyers. We’ll share our findings and also showcase a rich mix of speakers who are in various stages of the journey to provide you with real-world advice.

Aside from the agenda, (which we’ll share more with you as we get closer to February), we are also speaking with our customers to get ideas on improving the overall experience of the session. Some of these ideas include:

  • Replacing a few one-on-one slots with more rich Q&A discussions
  • Having a small group of customers present the outcomes of the session to the rest of the audience
  • Expanding blog coverage to capture more of the powerful conversations over lunch and during break sessions.

 We’ve already had several content planning meetings, have a whole slew of exciting and interesting research initiatives underway, and plan on announcing our core research theme for 2011 soon (which is a very big deal, but we have to keep it a little under wraps right now). If you have read our Sales Enablement Defined report (or the blog post announcing it) – please share your comments or ideas about what we should cover in the conference or more ideas to make the experience even richer.

Forrester’s Technology Sales Enablement 2011 Forum “At-A-Glance”

  • When: February 14 -15, 2011
  • Where: Palace Hotel, downtown San Francisco, California
  • Current sponsors (Platinum and Gold): Savo, Jigsaw, Corporate Visions, Alinean
  • Who: We are building our agenda for more senior-level professionals in sales, marketing, and portfolio groups who have responsibilities to help improve the effectiveness and productivity of the sales force. Because of the cross-functional nature of a lot of the material, we encourage our clients to bring a team from different organizational groups. To help, we’ve got a buy-three-get-one-free program for attendance.
  • Link:,9179,2438,00.html

Please let us know what you think. We'd love to design this conference with the community.


Will the conference move on to Europe?

London, Paris, Amsterdam next for the Sales Enablement 2011 Forum would be much appreciated - or alternatively a live feed from San Francisco.

RE: Conference in Europe

Hi Kate, thanks a lot for the note. For each conference series (we have many at Forrester) we usually do the first one in the States and then radiate out from there based on demand.

I like the idea of a live feed. I don't think we'll be able to pull that one off, but we are looking at enlisting some of our clients to be audience ambassadors and capture some of the key findings and hot side conversations. I'd imagine we'll be able to share some of that in blogs etc. Let me think on some more ideas on sharing some of the information for those who are too far.

Finally, I will be in London in November. I'm speaking at our Marketing Forum and we are getting another sales enablement roundtable together, so let me know if you are interested.

SE roundtable

Interested in a roundtable on that topic at the London Marketing Forum. Let me know when you have further details and thanks for the prompt response!

Get information out to you

Hi Kate, you can send me your contact information to and I will make sure the right people supply you with the details.

Next Sales Enablement Forum


This looks like a good follow-on from your inaugural sessions back in Washington DC. I am happy to see the direction your research is taking.

PTC has recently made some significant strides in this area, and I expect that your material would work well in our organization. We should continue this conversation!

Great to hear from you

Hi Gregg,

It's been a while. Yes, we've had several other sessions since that first one back in DC. We are actually gearing up for our 8th and 9th roundtables in London (next week) and San Francisco (week after).

Would love to hear about your move and how the new company is working out for you.

Love Topic Regarding Economics driving Sales Enablement

From our research we know that two economic downturns in the past decade have permanently changed how B2B solutions are bought and sold, forcing all stakeholders to focus on quantified bottom-line impacts. Alinean has coined a term to capture this change - Frugalnomics.

We feel that those companies that recognize and address this fundamental Frugalnomics market shift with the right sales effectiveness enablement investments, particurly value selling initiatives, will have significant more success than those focused on sales efficiency.

Focusing the show on the topic of the economy and how it is shaping sales enablement investments and practices will provide a complete playbook to sales enablement professionals over the next 5 years. We are going to be encouraging all our clients to attend, and look forward to a great show.

Our insight on the show can be found at:

RE: economics

Hi Tom, yes - we see the same thing. As a matter of fact, we've gone back to study the general changes to business for the past several economic downturns dating all the way back to the 1960's. In each situation - a business process changed dramatically.

There are many patterns throught history where businesses or indivdual companies reached a pivot point. Where confronted with a "fork in the road" type change; many people have rested on the skills, techniques, and instincts that got them there in the first place - only to realize those old models do not work in a new paradigm.

We are of course delighted you are sponsoring our event and we'll get to talk as we lead up to the conference about our program and agenda.

SE conference - major topics and how they could be covered

I love this picture of the two paths very much and I totally agree, very often the less used path is exactly the right one – but tackling this one requires brave and passionate people with the right instinct at the right time!

It is not only turning the corner after the last economic downturn, it is much more. It is about how to reach the next village after having climbed successfully Mount Everest before. That's only possible with a clear cross-functional sales enablement strategy using the customer as design point number one and a clear road map which is already successfully executed in first pilots. Than the roll out can start and you will reach not only the next village but also all the other villages coming after Mount Everest.

What should be covered in the conference? I have three major topics in my mind which are all related to each other (of course the technical buyer insights should always be our general anchor point followed by the CEO expectations):
- Sales enablement best practices from different view points (sales, marketing and portfolio) each with lessons learned. It would be great if different ways to achieve an adaptive sales enablement approach could be covered as well. Especially the impact of the last economic downturn would be interesting. Aggregating these lessons learned from different view points could be a task for a smaller group of customers, moderated by somebody of your team.
- Business outcome and outcome selling: what does it really mean? Big picture and definitions, corresponding selling models, outcome examples clearly defined, program, project and task level views, than focused on a few major topics as e.g. what does outcome selling mean for the content generation process and messaging in general, what does it mean for the role of an outcome seller? What is the role of collaboration in the vendors organization and in the customers organization?
- Cross selling as enabler number one for (profitable) growth in named / strategic accounts in a wallet share approach: general relevance of cross selling, impact regarding business outcomes, relevance in horizontal and vertical portfolio approaches (vertical color versus real vertical solution needs), relevance of value propositions especially in vertical scenarios, impact on content generation

How should it be covered in the conference? I would like to share some thoughts:
- Q&A sessions covering hot topics of the conference (e.g. selected by client's choice)
- Q&A sessions covering some of the key note speeches moderated by your team with the keynote presenters
- Feedback of small customer groups to hot topics observed during the conference through different lenses, presented by them and aggregated by your team interactively
- Final feedback and aggregation workshop on the second day: general lessons learned and core statements of the conference toward “where is sales enablement heading?” including your major research topics
- Corresponding tweets and blog posts to review major topics from individual view points