• News,  Sales Enablement Management,  Vendor Selection

    Seismic Top Again in SEM

    Sales Engagement Management (SEM) processes are transforming in most companies. B2B buyer behavior has evolved to become primarily digital, so traditional in-person selling is no longer the norm with 70% of business decision-makers now open to fully self-serve or remote purchases even if more than $ 50,000, according to McKinsey.

    I’ve just published my 2022 Vendor Selection Matrixtm research on Sales Engagement  Management which shows that increasing digital marketing and sales means that automated sales strategies and analytics have now joined the SEM process family. Indeed, in many companies, the sales organization includes a new generation of customer success managers, with different informational needs to the traditional salesperson. We estimate that 40-45% of companies have automated, or will be automating, parts of the SEM process in 2022. 

    Great SEM is now more important than ever.  

    The COVID-19 pandemic has set off a period of head-spinning change in many companies, even industries. Digital transformations are being realized faster than ever thought possible. Firms go digital in a matter of days, not years, and offer new services almost overnight. And one of the most drastic consequences of the move to digital marketing, selling, and buying, is on the role of that traditional salesperson (note that I co-wrote the Forrester report “Death of the B2B Salesman” back in 2015). Some of us analysts and vendors are starting to propose the broader descriptor Revenue Enablement or Revenue Management, where Revenue is an aggregation of sales and retention rate, most of which is automated and digital.

    We asked why marketers need SEM. 

    We asked, “Which of the following processes do you plan to automate with your SEM system?”, providing a list of 17 possible processes. The highest NEW interest is in improving Guided Selling and Pipeline Management, followed by support for Video Selling (aka remote selling). The next two priorities are being able to provide data and analytics (including alerts and recommendations) to salespeople. 

    SEM investment drivers depend on geography. 

    Overall, nearly one half of companies are focused on sales content management while 29% cite integrating to other marketing asset systems as important. One quarter value the opportunity to support social selling. However, these priorities vary across the regions. Social selling seems to be more important in Europe, as is Content control. More American companies are still working on providing relevant content assets to salespeople and to integrate to other systems while the more strategic benefit of improving revenue operations is recognized by four times as many European executives compared to North American.

    SEM improvement has a “sense of urgency” due to eCommerce. 

    As cited above, eCommerce has affected the sales process in almost all B2B companies. A resounding 98% of respondents expect the share of their products/services sold online to increase dramatically, reducing the dependency on a field sales force. But the Inside Sales (BusDev) function requires more, but also different, SEM functions.

    Pure-play SEM vendors may not be able to keep up.

    As part of an overall trend towards adopting more capable revenue management technology, SEM vendors will be challenged by existing Account-Based Marketing and Customer Data Management vendors. Many of these vendors will already have a strategic supplier relationship and can provide “just-enough” SEM capabilities to lock out a pure-play SEM vendor.

    But what is the market saying?

    The clear #1 Global Leader, as scored by the survey and me, is the vendor Seismic, who have won this leadership position for three surveys now.  

    This is the full list of all Market Leaders (having both a Strategy and an Execution score of over 4 out of 5) in the Vendor Selection Matrix™ – Sales Engagement Management 2022 (listed alphabetically):


    Note that the vendors BRAINSHARK and CLEARSLIDE were acquired by BIGTINCAN this year. However, the brands were named and scored, unprompted, in the survey. 

    The full list of vendor brands in the Top 15 vendors scored in the survey is completed by: 


    The link above connects you to the public version of the report, with the alphabetical list of market leaders and shorter vendor profiles. Watch out for several versions of report in full detail over the next months as several vendors distribute their licensed reprints.

    Always keeping you informed! Peter O’Neill