• 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

  • News,  Sales Enablement Management,  Vendor Selection

    Sales is different now, so Sales Engagement Management must change too

    We are almost there. I have now completed my 2022 Vendor Selection Matrix research on Sales Engagement Management, the survey has been analyzed, insights and trends have been written up and the vendor scorecards/profiles completed. The report is now with those vendors for fact checking and we expect to publish in October. 

    The need to automate elements of sales engagement management (SEM) was proposed many years ago (I would claim to be that analyst in question) but not readily adopted in all companies, especially those dominated by a Chief Sales Officer. But 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 (again, let me note that I co-wrote the Forrester report “Death of the B2B Salesman” back in 2015).  

    Our survey of 1500 business professionals on this topic shows the highest NEW interest in improving Guided Selling and Pipeline Management, followed by support for Video Selling.    

    The next two priorities are being able to provide data and analytics (including alerts and recommendations) to salespeople. SEM projects are mostly executed by more mature companies and based on our conversations with users and vendors, we estimate that 40-45% of companies have automated, or will be, their SEM process in 2022-23.

    When we asked them about their 2022 SEM projects, nearly half of the companies were still focused on sales content management, the earliest implementation phase of SEM. Nearly a third say that integrating to other marketing asset systems is important, and a quarter value the opportunity to support social selling.  However, these priorities vary across the regions which we explore in the report in more detail. The project drivers have also changed dramatically since our last survey in late 2020.

    These are the 15 vendors that qualify for the Vendor Selection Matrix™ – Sales Engagement Management 2022 due to their scores in the survey and me (listed alphabetically):


    Watch out for the final version of the report in full detail next month. 

    Always keeping you informed! Peter O’Neill

  • Channel Marketing and Enablement,  Sales Enablement Management

    More on Sales Enablement

    The sales engagement/enablement topic keeps ticking along. After my Vendor Selection Matrix report on Sales Engagement Management was published in May, I completed another research project on sales enablement in June. This was a trends survey across 177 marketers (42% US, 48% Europe) and the findings and insights are published by the B2B Marketing community as what they call a premium report. And I presented the report, within a specialized SE stream, at their IGNITE conference which was attended by over 3,000 people. My report and presentation title was 

    “The Sales Enablement Moment is Now”.

    The report concludes that now is a golden opportunity for B2B marketers to share their knowhow and expertise and help sellers look good in front of buyers. The perennial goal of marketing/sales alignment depends heavily on mutual trust and respect, and that would be easy to obtain with a successful SE programme. The Covid-19 crisis has highlighted this need to both individual sellers and their executives. An SE programme with a full supply chain of services and process addressing the competencies now required in a digital business world; providing content and training on a dynamic and responsive platform; and helping sellers to configure the right solutions for their customers quickly.   

    Our research showed that the typical sequence of an SE project goes through these stages of maturity: 

    1. Improve sales training.   
    2. Provide sales with digital content – passive. 
    3. Promote content to sales proactively.
    4. Add customer insights
    5. Integrate to other sales systems.

    Some companies will be able to improve marketing/sales alignment by just extending the current marketing automation processes and/or better-integrating Marketing Automation with the CRM or SFA systems. Others will want to invest in a new SE platform that does quite a bit more. An action plan is shown below, but here are some important points to consider: 

    • Address sales adoption from day one. The most successful SE projects focus on providing the optimal selling experience. Consider sales to be your customer for content, training and insights; research their needs first; and provide the information in the format and technologies that they prefer.
    • Compare various SE platforms. Please do not sign-up to the first SE vendor that calls. For the SE vendors, it is gold rush time currently and the SE software demos are all impressive – flowing PowerPoint presentations and running on tablet devices. Ensure there are standard interfaces to the systems that matter in your company; look for an empathetic user interface and adaptability in the software; and, perhaps most importantly, ensure it supports those devices that your sellers use. Sellers are already collecting a massive number of apps onto their devices through their own efforts. The SE system of choice needs to be visible, and recognised as important by the sellers, among that forest. It has to earn its adoption, based on ease of use, accessibility, comfort and applicability to the sellers’ daily tasks.  
    • Assign an SE programme manager high up in the organisation. Unless you set up a team of 510 people, the SE goals listed above cannot be achieved by your SE programme manager alone. Much of the work will be done by colleagues in other departments with encouragement and assistance from the SE programme: creating content, cranking data, providing training modules. So executive support across the organisations is, therefore, critical.

    If you would like to see more of the report, please contact B2B Marketing or myself. I am also doing several webinars on SE in the next weeks: here is one, here another.   

    Always keeping you informed! Peter

    peter@teamoneill.de poneill@researchinaction.de peter.oneill@b2bmarketing.net

  • News,  Sales Enablement Management,  Vendor Selection

    B2B Vertrieb im Wandel

    Hier ist er – mein Report: Vendor Selection Matrix zum Thema Sales Engagement Management. Dieser Report basiert auf Feedback von 1500 Unternehmen weltweit und meiner Expertise zu den jeweiligen Strategien und Machbarkeiten. Hier sind die Highlights des Berichts:

    • Sales Engagement Management (SEM) Automatisierung war in unserer Studie im ersten Quartal 2020 bereits ein Investmentbereich mit hoher Priorität – 48% der Organisationen sagten, sie würden ihr ersten Investment in SEM Software einleiten. Nun da sich Kaufprozesse im Lichte der aktuellen Gesundheits- und Wirtschaftskrise radikal verändern und diese Veränderung nach der Krise wahrscheinlich langfristig bleibt – explodiert dieser Trend! (Übrigens: McKinsey hat soeben diese Studie veröffentlicht, welche die Empfehlung enthält: „Verkaufsberater sollten die Käufer über Telefon, Videokonferenz, oder Webchat unterstützen, wann immer Sie dies benötigen. Eine 24/7 oder 24/5 Live Präsenz kann besonders sinnvoll sein, wenn eine entfernte Interaktion die einzige Option ist“)
    • Ob im Feld oder Vertriebsinnendienst, moderne Vertriebsspezialisten müssen Inhalte (Content) in unterschiedlichsten Formen verwalten und freigeben, mit ihren Kunden via E-Mail, Telefon, Messaging und Video kommunizieren und Engagement via hochentwickelten Content Analytics verstehen. Während manche Verkäufer ihre eigenen Tools finden, weist eine organisationsübergreifende SEM Plattform wünschenswerte Vorteile in Bezug auf die Sicherheit, Compliance und einer einheitlicheren Markendarstellung auf. 
    • Unser Bericht zeigt, dass die Gewinner von SEM Projekten diejenigen sein werden, welche die beste Käufer Erfahrung unterstützen. Die Studie nannte die größte Hürde zum Erfolg „Adoption durch die Käufer“. Also werden jene SEM Lösungen erfolgreich sein, welche den Fokus auf die optimale Käufer Erfahrung durch überlegene Integration, eine empathische Nutzer-Bedienoberfläche, Anpassungsfähigkeit und Flexibilität bezogen auf die Unterstützung verschiedener Endgeräte der Nutzer.
    • Darüber Hinaus zeigen wir, dass SEM Analytik und Anleitung zunehmend erfolgskritisch werden. Eine negative Käufer Erfahrung geschieht, wenn die Verkäufer einen falschen Kontakt, zu einer schlechten Zeit, mit nicht dienlichen Informationen anruft. Organisationen werden erwarten, dass SEM Systeme dieses Szenario vermeiden können und solche Systeme bevorzugen, welche proaktiv eine optimale Erfahrung für beide Parteien erzeugt.
    • Wer schaffte es an die Spitze? Die Top 5 Anbieter, bewertet durch SEM Nutzer in 2020, sind:
    • Seismic
    • Clearslide
    • Showpad
    • Brainshark
    • Highspot
    • Die Anbieter Accent Technologies, Apparound, Bigtincan, Mediafly, Pitcher, Prolifiq, SalesLoft, SalesSphere, SAP und Zoomifier vervollständigen die Liste der Anbieter, welche von den 1500 befragten Fachleuten genannt wurden.

    Es ist interessant zu beobachten, wie der deutsche Anbieter SaleSphere an Boden gewinnt in dieser globalen Landschaft – direkt in die führende Kategorie der Matrix. Dies liegt an der beschleunigten Adoption durch europäische Organisationen, welche sich von der Integration von SEM in benachbarte Geschäftsprozesse wie eCommerce und Dienstleistungen beeindruckt zeigen. Außerdem wird ihre vorhandene Kompetenz in Sachen Datenschutz-Grundverordnung (DSGVO) sehr geschätzt.

    Trotz dessen fällt es SaleSphere schwer sich im Markt Gehör zu verschaffen und sich für weitere Erfolge und Wachstum zu bewerben, so wie vielen deutschen Technologie-Unternehmen. Einige Anbieter in diesem Bericht haben Marketing-programme erschaffen, um die Ergebnisse wirksam einzusetzen – ich selbst bin für zahlreiche Webinars (mit vier verschiedenen Anbieter) in den nächsten Monaten gebucht. SalesSphere scheint jedoch nur geringes Verständnis für diesen Marketingprozess zu besitzen.  

    Erinnern Sie sich daran, dass unsere Forschung eine „Anbieter Wettbewerbslandschaft“ aufdeckt – Wir diskutieren in dieser Studie jene Anbieter, welche von den Nutzern für die Automatisierung eines Prozesses (oder Familie von Prozessen) am meisten geschätzt werden. Ich erfragte Berichte und Erfahrungen zum Prozess „Verkäufern helfen auf ihre Kunden einzugehen“. Aufgrund von geografischen und funktionalen Divergenzen, sowie Unterschieden in der Segmentierung ist dies nicht ausschließlich eine Liste von direkten Wettbewerbern. In der Tat setzen die meisten Befragten mindestens zwei solcher Lösungen ein, um ihre Bedürfnisse abzudecken. 

    Wenn Sie mehr von dem Bericht sehen möchten, wie beispielsweise die einzelnen Anbieter-Profilblätter und das gesamte Bewertungsschema, zögern Sie nicht mich zu kontaktieren. 

    Always keeping you informed! Peter

  • News,  Sales Enablement Management,  Vendor Selection

    Help Sales to Engage

    Here it is – my Vendor Selection Matrix report on Sales Engagement Management. Last year, I issued this just after Gartner/Forrester had output their quadrant/wave on a similar topic: so interest/budgets were already spent and I had a reduced response compared to all my other reports.  But .. they provide an analyst POV only: one written for large enterprises primarily in N. America. My report is based upon feedback from 1,500 businesses globally plus my view of each vendor’s strategy and viability. 

    Sales Engagement Management (SEM) automation was already a high-priority investment in Q1 2020, when we did the survey – 48% of businesses said they’ll be initiating their first investment in SEM software. Now, as the current health and economic crisis changes the buying process radically, probably for ever – this is now a trend exploding ! (BTW – McKinsey have just released this study that includes this recommendation: “Have your sales reps on call to support buyers by phone, videoconference, or webchat, whenever they need it; a 24/7 or 24/5 live presence can be especially meaningful when remote interactions are the only options.)

    Whether in the field or inside-sales, the modern sales professional must manage and share content in a multitude of forms; communicate with customers via email, phone, messaging, and video; and understand engagement via advanced content analytics. While some sellers can find their own tools to do this, a company-wide SEM platform is preferable for security, compliance and brand-consistency reasons. 

    Our report shows that the SEM project winners will be those that support the best seller experience. The survey named the greatest barrier to success as “adoption by the sellers”. So successful SEM solutions will be those who focus on providing the optimal selling experience through superior integrations, an empathetic user interface, adaptability and device-flexibility.

    We also show that SEM analytics and guidance will become mission-critical. A bad customer experience happens when sellers call on the wrong contacts at a bad time with unhelpful information. Companies will not only expect SEM system to avoid that scenario, they will prefer solutions that proactively generate an optimal experience for both parties.  

    Who came out on top? The top five vendors rated by the users for SEM in 2020 are: 

    1. Seismic
    2. Clearslide
    3. Showpad
    4. Brainshark
    5. Highspot

    The vendors Accent Technologies, Apparound, Bigtincan, Mediafly, Pitcher, Prolifiq, SalesLoft, SalesSphere, SAP, and Zoomifier complete the list of vendors who were named by the 1,500 business professionals.

    It is interesting to see the German vendor SaleSphere gaining a lot of ground into this global landscape – right into the Leader catagory on the matrix. This is due to accelerated adoption by European businesses impressed with their clever integrations of SEM to adjacent business processes like eCommerce and service, as well as their competence around GPDR.   

    Remember, our research discovers a “vendor landscape” – those vendors most highly regarded by users for automation of the process (or family of processes) we discuss in the survey. The process I asked about was “helping sellers to engage their customers”. Due to geographical, segmentation and functional differences, it is not always a list of direct competitors. In fact, most respondents deploy at least two to cover their needs.

    Several of these firms will be working with me over the next months to discuss the research in more detail as they realize that this is now not the time to be pitching product (even if there is great interest) but to be providing useful and compelling content and some thought leadership. 

    If you would like to see more of the report, such as the individual vendor profile sheets and full scoring schema, please contact me.  

    Always keeping you informed! Peter

  • News,  Sales Enablement Management,  Vendor Selection

    Die Seller Experience

    Mein nächster Report zum Thema Sales Engagement Management ist bald abgeschlossen. Ich hatte sehr viel Freude dabei die Nutzerdaten von insgesamt 1500 Nutzern und Evaluationen der Anbieter unserer Studie zu analysieren und diese mit den untersuchten Anbietern in Meetings zu diskutieren. 

    Bereits im Jahr 2010 habe ich mit Forrester Research Kollegen gemeinsam den Begriff Sales Enablement kreiert und definiert. Ich erinnere mich noch gut an 2015, als ich in meiner Funktion als Research Director und Konferenz Gastgeber das jährliche Sales Enablement Forum mit den Worten „Don’t just help sales — See all buyer touchpoints!“ abschloss. Außerdem co-präsentierte ich in diesem Forum den Forschungsbericht mit dem Titel „Death of th B2B Salesman“. 

    Ich bin weiterhin ein gefragter Gesprächspartner für diese Thematik, wie auf Podcasts (Sales EnablementPRO and Evolvers) und bei Konferenzen. Darüber Hinaus freue mich, auf Basis meiner langjährigen Forschung und den dadurch gewonnen Erkenntnissen, Empfehlungen für die Automatisierung des Sales Engagement Prozesses von Unternehmen zur Verfügung zu stellen. Die Untersuchungen zeigen, dass 48 % der Unternehmen in diesem Bereich erstmalig investieren. Dies spricht dafür, dass sich der Automatisierungsmarkt eventuell dem Ende der „Early-Adopter“-Phase nähert und sich eine Marktreife stetig etabliert, verbreitet und konsolidiert. Die Anbieter müssen nun zunehmend einen gewisse Thought Leadership (Vordenker) Position und entsprechende Bildungsinhalte entwickeln, anstatt sich mit den einfachsten „low-hanging fruits“ Projekten in dieser Thematik zu beschäftigen. 

    Wie ich zu sagen pflege, erforscht unsere Studie die „Vendor Landscape“ (Anbieter Wettbewerbslandschaft). Es werden Anbieter untersucht und diskutiert, welche für die Automatisierung eines Prozesses (oder Familie von Prozessen) von Nutzern am meisten genutzt und geschätzt werden. Aufgrund geografischer und funktionaler Differenzen, sowie Unterschieden in der Segmentierung ergibt sich nicht immer eine Liste von direkten Konkurrenten. Tatsächlich setzen die meisten Teilnehmenden mehrere Anbieter ein, um alle ihre Bedürfnisse effizient abzudecken. 

    Die Teilnehmenden der Studie berichteten, dass ihre größte Befürchtung das Ausbleiben einer Adoption des Systems im Vertrieb darstellt, also ob die Kollegen das System überhaupt nutzen. Außerdem wird die Quantifizierung und Evaluation dieser Investition hinsichtlich des Return-on-Investment (ROI) als bedeutende Aufgabe angesehen.

    Bezüglich der Befürchtungen zur Adoption des Systems, empfehle ich den erfolgreichsten SEM Lösungen ihren Fokus zunehmend auf eine optimale „selling experience“ (Kauferfahrung) zu richten. Dies kann durch  erfolgreiche Integration in benachbarte Prozesse, eine empathische Benutzeroberfläche, Anpassungsfähigkeit und vor allem durch umfangreiche Unterstützung derjenigen Geräte geschehen, welche die Verkäufer bevorzugen. 


    Der deutsche Anbieter SalesSphere hat es sogar in die Top 10 geschafft. Die SaaS SEM Plattform gewinnt durch ihren Fokus auf Europäische Sicherheit- und Datenschutzstandards zunehmend mehr Kunden. 

    Falls sie weitere nützliche Erkenntnisse des Forschungsberichts erfahren möchten, wie beispielsweise die individuellen Profilbögen der Anbieter und eine vollständige Darstellung des Scoringverfahrens, stehe ich Ihnen gern zur Verfügung.

    Always keeping you informed! 


  • News,  Sales Enablement Management,  Vendor Selection

    The Seller Experience

    I’m coming to the end of my next report, on Sales Engagement Management. I’ve enjoyed working through the data and vendor evaluations from our survey of 1500 practitioners – and I’ve certainly enjoyed the meetings I’ve had with most of the vendors who were mentioned in the survey. 

    It took me back to 2010 when I helped Forrester Research invent and define the term Sales Enablement. And I remember well in 2015 when, as research director and conference host, I closed that year’s Sales Enablement Forum with the advice “Don’t help just Sales – see all buyer touchpoints”. Of course, the other thing I did at that conference was co-present our new report at the time called “Death of the B2B Salesman”. 

    I still get to speak on the topic now … on podcasts (Sales EnablementPRO and Evolvers) and at conferences, so I am looking forward to providing a research “call” on how companies are automating their Sales Engagement Management process, as I now prefer to call it. The data shows that 48% of companies are investing here for the first time – here is an automation market perhaps coming to the end of its “early-adopter” phase and about to mature, aggregate and consolidate. The vendors will need to develop thought leadership and educational content, as opposed to picking low-hanging fruit projects.  

    As I like to say, our research discovers a “vendor landscape” – those vendors who are the most highly regarded by users for automation of the process (or family of processes) we discuss in the survey. Due to geographical, segmentation and functional differences, it is not always a list of direct competitors. In fact, most respondents deploy at least two to cover their needs.

    The survey respondents told us that their most overriding concern is seller adoption – will they use the system after it has been set up for them. Quantifying the investment in terms of business value is also rated highly as a challenge. 

    Concerning adoption, I think that the most successful SEM solutions will need to focus on providing the optimal selling experience. This will achieved by offering through superior integrations to adjacent systems; having an empathetic user interface; being adaptable; and, perhaps most-important, supporting those devices that sellers prefer.

    The 15 vendors profiled in the report will be:


    with honourable mentions (named in the survey but not enough data):


    If you would like to see more of the report, such as the individual vendor profile sheets and full scoring schema, please contact me.  

    Always keeping you informed! Peter

  • News

    Introducing: Sales Engagement Management

    I’m almost ready with my third research project across the major marketing business processes. As organizations acquire more insight into the buyer journey, Marketing is playing an increasingly active role in selecting and funding enablement software for the sales team, often collaborating with their colleagues in Sales Operations (if that organization exists). 

    Marketers usually start off their project by seeking a system to distribute content to sellers; while sales-ops wants to provide on-demand coaching plus support the day-to-day operational processes that sellers must endure. Ideally, these projects should be combined into one robust set of sophisticated tools, on the seller’s device of choice, in order to engage productively with their knowledgeable prospects and buyers. So, I see Sales Engagement Management as one of the fastest growing Martech markets and focused on equipping Sales Representatives, Sales Managers, and Marketers with the necessary tools to engage with prospects in an all-digital fashion. 

    I found nearly 30 active software and SaaS vendors generating an estimated total revenue of around $ 1 billion in annual software licenses, maintenance and SaaS and I know of many companies budgeting well over $100 per seller per month for solutions in this area.  Most of the vendors I talked to are enjoying annual growth rates of over 100%. 

    In our survey of 1500 business executives, 48% said that they will be investing in Sales Engagement Management software for the first time soon and 37% of those who have current solutions will be replacing their existing system for various reasons. The market is in the early-adopter phase; in our survey, the users scored most vendors quite low on perceived differentiation, tending to buy from the first vendor that calls. We anticipate considerable vendor consolidation or churn in 2019/2020 as smaller vendors with point solutions lose their customers to a more complete sales engagement management provider.   

    The top twenty vendors who were mentioned the most by the 1500 executives appear in the Vendor Selection Matrix, which will be published the first week of March. They are (listed alphabetically):   Accent Technologies, Apparound, Bigtincan, Brainshark, Clearslide, Client Point, CustomShow, DocSend, Fileboard, Highspot, Insite Software, Journey Sales, Mediafly, Octiv, Pitcher, Prolifiq, SalesLoft, SAP, Seismic, and Showpad.  

    Always keeping you informed! Peter