My report “Develop Your Sales Enablement Charter Or Run Into A Perfect Storm” for Forrester clients, and the associated blog for all, has prompted many inquiries — from business decision-makers in B2B marketing or sales management; from technology decision-makers; and, of course, from the sales enablement vendors themselves. Some have questioned my sense of urgency — “Will things come to a head in sales enablement so quickly?” Well, here is an email that I received from Forrester’s own VP of sales operations that echoes most every sentiment I’m hearing from the sales enablement buying community:

I get contacted multiple times per week with vendors who have technology around streamlining and/or improving some part of the B2B sales process. I (and my team) have taken a number of these calls, and there certainly is some interesting technology out there, however it feels like there is a huge market inefficiency going on that is manifesting itself in two different ways:

  • There are many vendors that are attacking a small piece of the B2B selling process — i.e., forecasting, or gamification, or content distribution, etc. Because of this, each of these vendors [is] somewhat of a niche player, and it becomes harder to justify the ROI of any specific player. In addition, you have to go through a separate sales cycle with each one, with a separate procurement process, and if we do decide to purchase, completely separate integrations that likely leverage the same [scarce] Forrester tech management resources.
  • Even with the situation above, there are still a number of vendors focusing on each specific niche, each with their own unique take on how to solve the problem. Each vendor has cool features and functionality in some area[s], but lacking in others — and it would be great to have some kind of roll-up that combines the best of each of these vendors for a more compelling product suite.

There is a lot of venture money in Silicon Valley chasing far too few quality deals, and it feels like B2B sales and marketing automation is a hot space — which means that a lot of companies are getting funded, and competing for the same limited pool of engineering and development talent, let alone sales reps. So the experience we get is very disjointed.Adding to the challenges above — a lot of these firms are taking parts of the SFDC offering and improving upon them (i.e., Forecasting). The problems the vendors are addressing are very real — but I wonder how long it is until SFDC develops their way out of this — and/or scoops up a couple of these companies.

So, my answer to the sense of urgency question is a definite “yes.”

Similarly, my answer to my colleagues’ question in the last paragraph above is also “yes, but not just SFDC" – there are other vendors to be wary of in adjacent markets.  Accordingly, we have documented a prediction on this topic in our upcoming Predictions 2016 report for B2B marketing professionals where we will also discuss the future of lead funnels, waterfalls and other inhibiting marketing metaphors. 

Another upcoming report to watch out for is from our new analyst focused on sales enablement, Mary Shea. She will discuss what to do about the increasing need to hire and/or develop consultant salespeople in most companies. However, considering the furor caused by the“Death Of A (B2B) Salesman”report earlier this year, I find the most insightful sentence in Mary’s report to be:

“Now this change sounds much more dramatic than it is: The reality is that 62% of all B2B salespeople will still be Order Takers and Explainers in 2020, but their impact on B2B sales success will be clearly diminished.”

Always keeping you informed! Peter