Perfect storm:

“A detrimental or calamitous situation or event arising from the powerful combined effect of a unique set of circumstances.” (

I am probably not the most dramatic of analysts (“somewhat phlegmatic,” I am usually told), but here I am very deliberately using a dramatic metaphor to call out a potential calamity for many B2B companies in my new report for Forrester clients: “Manage Your Sales Enablement Charter Or Run Into A Perfect Storm.”

I originally wanted to expand on my presentation at the SE Forum in Scottsdale, Arizona, where I had described the life of a sales enablement professional as wearing six hats at once. But during the report interviews and other routine inquiries and briefings, it became clear to me that I also needed to highlight an urgent requirement for SOMEBODY, or a group, to take ownership of sales enablement investments in an enterprise — otherwise many of the investments will end up, after a year or so, being labeled as “rogue, random, and redundant” (probably not a great career move for those executives who signed off on the investments).

To be specific, most SE investments are being decided initially by marketing or sales executives, or even individual sales managers. Why could this be a perfect storm? Well, we see too many random acts happening around an enterprise due to a combination of these three factors:

  • Sense of urgency. Usually within sales — they feel “something must be done” about increasing sales productivity.
  • Opportunistic technology purchases. After all, Figure 1 in the report lists nearly 150 exciting new offerings, and it is all too easy for companies to sign up for one or two of these offerings and show short-term success.
  • Self-service technology purchases. Salespeople themselves are taking advantage of subscriptions for individual users, which are then expensed.

Mid-term, most of the SE technologies must be integrated to the enterprise back-office systems; the sales-led investments will end up having to be funded centrally, if they continue; and next-generation CRM and/or SFA projects coming out of the technology management group will make many of these projects redundant.

My report describes how to establish a managed sales enablement charter as opposed to these random states described above.  It aligns elegantly with a recent brief by colleague Kate Leggett targeted at those members of the technology management group mentioned above: “Five Trends To Watch When Provisioning Sales Software.” Her report lists the most important topics to account for when planning a new system and how to plan for each one:

1.      New software continues to close the technology gap between marketing and sales.

2.      Sales solution vendors promise to solve the “CRM adoption problem.”

3.      Predictive analytics are now core, but they raise new considerations for buyers.

4.      Many solutions provide functional overlap and serve multiple business needs.

5.      Big fish will gobble up any fast-growing minnows.

While it is interesting to read how different the technology management considerations, and language, are from the business view, at the end of the day, both sets of interests are valid and need to be represented. But that is exactly why Forrester’s research is role-focused. If you only have access to the B2B marketing reports and would like to know more about the others, feel free to set up an inquiry with someone on the B2B marketing team and we will help.

BTW. We have done a similar exercise around the lead-management automation topic combined with CRM. Kate and Lori Wizdo coauthored the report “CRM And Marketing Automation: Better Together” for application development and delivery professionals, and they will publish an equivalent version, “It Takes CRM And Marketing Automation To Engage Across The Customer Life Cycle,” for B2B marketing professionals later this month.

Always keeping you informed! Peter