Register now for the March 21, 2017, Forrester Webinar: "Sales Enablement In Action: Learning From B2B Practitioners."

The Forrester Wave™ process involves more than vendors. It also requires interviews with two to three reference customers for each solution. The new report, which Jacob Milender and I wrote, "Applying Sales Enablement Best Practices: Reference Customers For The Sales Enablement Automation Wave™ Reveal Lessons That They’ve Learned," looks at how these practitioners have achieved the benefits of sales enablement automation (SEA).

We spoke to 20 sales enablement practitioners from a variety of industries who were evenly divided between reporting to marketing and sales. That is a lesson on how the role of sales enablement still straddles the organizational divide. And as with any technology, it takes a lot more than flipping a switch for SEA systems to get up and running. All practitioners agreed that getting their house in order (that is, finding, categorizing, reviewing, and restructuring content) was a necessary first step no matter what solution they chose.

The most immediate measure of a successful launch and implementation was adoption by sellers. “They love it! Content is much easier to locate,” was a frequent comment. But beyond immediate adoption, there are still challenges for many sales and marketing leaders in getting the most out of SEA, including going beyond using basic content usage reporting to correlating successful content with moving opportunities through sales stages.

The power of recommendations is another area where there is room to grow. By tagging content for mapping to CRM indicators (such as product, buyer role, industry, and sales stage), content can be served up to match the exact needs of the seller and help move an opportunity forward. But for practitioners who use CRM systems other than Salesforce or those who focus on a partner channel with limited or no access to the partner’s CRM, recommendations remain an unfulfilled promise.

While the lessons here are certainly valuable for practitioners, they are also useful for vendors to think about how they can evolve current functions and ensure greater success on the part of their customers. The biggest lesson? Sales enablement automation works, giving sellers a new level of efficiency and effectiveness to drive more and faster deals. That’s a benefit everyone can agree on.

Continuously curious,

Steven Wright