I would like to take the opportunity to remind you of our upcoming Sales Enablement Forum on March 2-3 in Scottsdale, Arizona,where the overall theme this year is about the different approaches required to optimize your B2B sales channels. Our research shows that more transactional buyers now prefer more automation and self-service (eBusiness); whereas executives who are involved in buying prefer (no, insist on) having conversations and engagement that match their problem-solving needs. So we have designed an agenda that covers direct selling, selling through channel partners, as well as selling through eBusiness interactions. And, as this is a strategic topic, over and perhaps above the discipline of selling itself, most of the presentations will be made by marketing leaders in the B2B companies we have invited.

Our industry speaker guests know about these sales channel challenges. And they are happening in all B2B sectors, so we will hear from an electronics manufacturing partner (Jabil), an MRO supplier to businesses (Staples Advantage), a business services provider (Mindtree); a healthcare products vendor (GE Healthcare), an electronic services provider (TE Connectivity), and technology vendors VMwareand NetApp. The Forum’s vendor sponsors will provide additional insights in this context around the best practices of their own clients. Lastly, Forrester keynotes are planned from Laura Ramos, Andy Hoar, and yours truly.

My colleagues Sheryl Pattek, Lori Wizdo, Mark Lindwall,and Tim Harmon will lead deep dives into various aspects of the sales channel challenge: understanding and including customers in your plans; hiring and developing the right salespeople; and choosing the right channel partners. We’ll also examine the plethora of technologies now available for sales enablement (see my last blog post) and help you understand how to develop a successful business case to justify the required investments.

At the end of the Forum, we will review the stories we have heard and try to answer some fundamental questions about the future of B2B selling: Will we call it selling? Will we even need a sales force? If so, what type of salespeople will we need? How do we bring the channels together?

Please take a longer look at the agenda, then your calendar, and seriously consider whether or not you can join us for the Forum. Register before January 17 for early-bird pricing. We look forward to seeing you there. As always, over the coming weeks, we will be interviewing some of the planned speakers about their points of view.