I had great fun presenting our sales enablement (SE) execution landscape to Forrester clients last week in a regular client webinar. The SE execution landscape is an idea partly based on a report we published in September. That report introduced the concept of “the supply chain for successful sales conversations” and categorized about 45 different vendors and service providers in terms of six SE business goals, as shown below. We see these goals as the bridge between marketing automation and sales operations processes. The vendor list was the state of our knowledge when we submitted the report to our publishing team in July. But since then, we’ve become aware of so many more vendors in the space; either they’ve briefed us or we’ve come across them in client discussions. So as of last week, Forrester is tracking a SE landscape numbering some 112 companies. This area of technology is positively exploding!!!
This is not an easy state of affairs for SE professionals. We know from our frequent interactions with you that you’re being inundated with offers. Every day you get another call from somebody offering yet another silver bullet — another service or piece of technology to make your job easier and (something that’s promised each time) make your salespeople more effective and efficient. The combination of digital media platforms and mobile device proliferation has caused a real boom in this area of technology. However, the problem is that each of these silver bullets solves just one problem; while each of them sounds compelling, when you put them all together you’re in danger of creating your own software mess across your part of the enterprise. This is a market in what Forrester calls the “pivot” phase; offerings will probably continue to proliferate for at least another year before some vendors start to consolidate the market. The leading two software suite suppliers in this space, SAVO and CallidusCloud, will probably eventually cover every sector we have listed; some other vendors may also attain that status.
But don’t forget, this is only the sales enablement automation market! The adjacent technology areas of CRM, marketing automation, and content management are much larger and the vendors themselves are much larger. So I expect not only that SE will consolidate in the future, but that the overall space of these four technology areas will also experience consolidation. Leading industry software brands like Oracle, SAP, and Microsoft are not yet represented in these landscapes — but I’m sure that they will remedy this in 2015.
Anyway, one of the most important pieces of advice that we give our clients is that these projects involve process and organizational change first; technology comes later. Often, technology vendors selling their product or service push buyers into overemphasizing technology in their decision-making. Our advice: Focus on your business goals, not theirs. Choose those vendors that can talk to you about your challenges — such as creating a business case for your project and fitting it into your enterprisewide ecosystem and long-term strategy — as opposed to presenting and selling their technology.
Always keeping you informed! Peter