A new analyst at Forrester quickly learns about some rites of passage: the first report (insert link to Brief: Sales Enablement Needs A Platform), the first research agenda, and the first blog post.

Of the three, the first report is the toughest — reviewed and edited by your Research Director (the inestimable Peter O’Neill) and other analysts, and sliced, diced, and improved upon by Forrester’s editing process before going live. And that report is now available — Brief: Sales Enablement Automation Needs A Platform

That first report is a stake in the ground, or a line in the sand for future research. Since I focus on sales enablement, it’s more of a stake in the sand since technology and demands are shifting rapidly in the world of B2B marketing and selling.

The solutions that help enable sellers borrow from marketing automation, various forms of analytics, with a strong addition of CRM integration. Vendors in this space are many, the overlaps are great, and the competition is fierce. It’s difficult to easily understand what is needed to find the bridge between marketing and sales so both can be more effective and efficient; once a lead becomes a real opportunity, it needs the human touch that only a good sales person can bring.

In a perfect world, a single technology platform would provide all the necessary capabilities, including the ones you haven’t thought of, together in a single solution. Alas, Candide aside, we are not in that world. But if you are involved in selecting tools, whether from a marketing or sales enablement point of view, there are some key points that can help:

  • Understand your existing processes in terms of the Sales Enablement Execution goals and then map the gaps you need to address to simplify and shorten your tool selection process.
  • As noted in Forrester’s B2B predictions for 2016 report, consolidation looms, but you need to make decisions now, based on the needs you identify.
  • Focus on how a smaller subset of solutions can integrate and leverage existing functions and data to help your sellers spend more time interacting with — not just selling to — your clients.

This report also points the way to a lot of related research for 2016, whether defining the map of the vendor landscape for Sales Enablement Automation, what’s needed to bring the customer and seller journey in closer alignment, or getting more out of the data you already have to help sellers.

I look forward to speaking and working with many of you as we take that journey towards improved sales enablement together.

Continuously curious — Steven