As 2016 comes to a close, I am thinking about sales enablement things and predictions for 2017. The last few years have been a roller coaster for me, and also for sales enablement at large. I don’t expect that 2017 is going to be much different. It’s still going to be the wild west for vendors and customers alike, but sales enablement is at a point where it needs to mature.
The people, process and technology sales enablement delivers value to a variety of companies in many different manners. As the impact of sales enablement grows, they need to up their game to increase that impact. Due to sales and marketing executives being easily distracted by the hot new thing, sales enablement has to mature from point programs to enterprise class deployments. Without this maturation, it will not see continued investment by those distracted executives.
Five Sales Enablement Things and Predictions for 2017.
Sales Manager Analytics.
All the major sales enablement product sets possess analytics as a core part of the platform, many also offer insight for sales managers. But these need to go further to up a sales manager’s game. A sales manager possess access to their rep’s accounts and what is going on along with what content their reps are using. What if we took it to the next level and they looked at what reps were doing on their sales calls? This is possible with the technology behind sales enablement. Getting that insight will offer value for sales managers. As a result, it enables them to coach up average sales reps along with identifying the top sales reps behaviors and sharing them with their teams.
Machine Driven Sales Interactions.
The use cases for big data and machine learning are plentiful, but often unrealized. Sales enablement offers yet another set of use cases. With sales enablement, you are capturing a large amount of data around what content works. You can easily pair it with desired outcomes like closing the deal, or moving something through the pipeline. This will offer more predictive capabilities of sales enablement systems and processes. Not just making a suggestion on what content to use, but to actually automate the interaction with a prospect.
Increasing Importance of Integration.
Most of the sales enablement applications offer integration. The importance of integration increases as the role for sales enablement application grows. The reality is with sales enablement, you can’t really fulfill the promise without deep integration to sales force automation (SFA) solutions. The standard opportunity, activity tracking along with content management aspects are already commonplace. Of course, how often they are actually implemented is subject to some debate. Integration will continue to evolve to offer more detailed automated tracking of opportunities, along with enabling manual updates to SFA systems directly from the sales enablement applications. Eventually we will see SFA and sales enablement merge as concepts, but not in 2017.
The majority of the cool sales enablement applications have been developed by smaller players. Many vendors offer mildly differentiated or competing solutions. This led to innovation, but also resulted in confusion with buyers. This also caused notice by larger player(SAP, Oracle, SalesForce, Microsoft). These players see the growing market, and important function played by sales enablement applications. They do not want to cede it to the startups. How they are going to enter the market is definitely subject to speculation. Expect something to happen in the coming year. Furthermore, it’s going to be make or break for many of the smaller vendors, as the larger players get involved in the market.
Sales Enablement and Account Based Selling (ABS) Merge As Concepts
My final sales enablement prediction is around the merging of two concept. Account based selling was hot hot hot in 2016, and it will continue to be hot in 2017. But many of the same concepts that drive ABS also drive sales enablement. Things like personalization, predictive content, and measuring performance span both areas. Sales enablement and Account Base Selling already share some of the same underlying concepts but as both mature in 2017, expect overlap to increase in adoption of these solutions and methodologies.