'Tis the season to be shopping. Not just putting down your credit card for your friends and family, but perhaps spending some money to supercharge your sales team.
Maybe you have end of year budget to spend, or planning your budget for sales tools for 2019.
Where should you spend it?
Do you know the differences between Sales Engagement, Sales Enablement or Sales Readiness Platforms? What about a Learning Experience Platform (LEP) or a Learning Management System (LMS)?
What about the overlap from the more Sales-focused LMS platforms?
Are you confused? You’re not the only one.
What we’ve noticed is there’s a lot of confusion on what kind of platforms to buy, when to buy, and who to buy from to create the best sales tech stack.
And because of this, nobody knows how to label what they’re looking for, and end up being at risk of making a poor choice that needs to be replaced later in the year or even worse, put your personal brand at risk.
Let’s use a fun analogy to set the scene - 'tis the season after all.
You’re running down Rodeo Drive, or a shopping mall. There are so many options to choose from! Where should you shop? (TL;DR: See Sales Tech Mall)
Most of you won’t have Richard Gere spotting the bill. So let’s make sure your upcoming shopping spree gets you all of the outfits you’ll need.
A Few Sales Tech Categories
Having done hundreds of conversations and feedback calls, here’s how we view the market.
There’s a challenge upon sales enablers - what tech do you choose to best support your go-to-market programs? There are many sources and opinions, and as a result, a lot of confusion in the market.
For the purpose of this article, we’ll be looking at the sales tech landscape, particularly engagement, enablement and training, where the lines are starting to get blurred.
The Sales Productivity Tech Stack
Here are the tool categories we’re going to focus on in this article.
You should do your research, and understand what’s in style. If you do have the time, here are the resources you should review. Some are public articles while others are links to analyst reports that your company would need a subscription for. If you search online, you may be able to find a vendor sponsored copy.
But for those that don’t have the time right now, skip these links and keep reading!
- Sales Engagement Platforms: (TOPO article, October 2018)
- Conversation Intelligence
- Sales Enablement Automation Platforms (Forrester report, Sept 2018)
- Digital content management for Sales:(Gartner, October 2018)
- Sales Readiness: (Forrester report, March 2018)
- The emerging LXP/LEP market: (Gartner report, May 2018 & Josh Bersin Article, Sept 2018)
- The current LMS market: (Josh Bersin Article, June 2017)
Is There Too Much Overlap?
Historically, Sales bought a CRM and other sales tech, marketing bought a CMS and HR bought an LMS
The continued emergence of the sales enablement role and function has hands in all of these in order to optimize the buyer and seller experience.
But, as you can read in the research documents, there aren’t any clear recommendations between the various categories that Sales Leaders, Enablement & Sales Ops professionals should follow when evaluating their tech stack.
Vendors are listed as Sales Enablement from some analysts, then the same vendors are listed in Sales Readiness or LMS from other analysts.
We are starting to see some natural overlap in product functionality in the space and that is a large contributor of causing the confusion.
As an example, In many cases, sales enablement teams don’t need an LMS to solve their training problems. But they don’t know what else to call it, so they default to LMS platforms.
Ok - how about with the good ol’ donuts analogy:
Where’s the Market Heading?
Here’s where we see the market heading, based on our research and talking with customers.
- Sales Engagement- this category has gone completely mainstream and is going to get even more interesting now that Salesforce will be entering the market in 2019. Salesloft and Outreach have built the market, with newer and smaller players now entering the mix as well.
- Conversation Intelligence - Where do you belong? This could go several ways. It could be grouped as part of the sales enablement suite or the sales engagement suite. We have seen Conversation Intelligence and Sales Engagement partnerships (Gong and Outreach) along with consolidation (Salesloft and NoteNinja). This space is heavily funded and innovating at a rapid pace. It’s not inconceivable for Conversation Intelligence to become its own category in the future, or it could become a critical foundation/enhancement to either the Sales Enablement or Sales Engagement space.
- Sales Enablement (SAM/CMS) - Analysts have basically labeled the Sales Asset Management or Content Management System categories as Sales Enablement for the better part of the last decade. But any modern sales enablement practitioner will tell you enablement includes process, people, content, tools, coaching, and training. As such, we believe that Sales Readiness & CMS go hand and hand to make up the Sales Enablement suite. We have seen the beginnings of this validation from recent partnerships and consolidation (e.g. Showpad and Learncore).
- Sales Readiness & LMS - These are not the same, but do have some overlapping features, which is ultimately creating confusion. Some have referred to Sales Readiness as a “Specialty LMS” or an “LMS for Sales”. I’m not convinced Sales Readiness is the best description, but it is definitely better than LMS. The easiest way to differentiate is to ask yourself “is the tool for the entire company or just our customer-facing, go-to-market team?” Sales Readiness can be complementary to your typical and even more modernized LMS. The big difference is pricing - because it’s a specialty tool, it comes at a higher price tag. But it solves sales needs more effectively than a generic corporate LMS.
- LMS & LEP: Here comes myTrailhead! Salesforce will be entering the LEP market with its highly anticipated launch of myTrailhead in 2019. myTrailhead will be the first to tell you that it is NOT an LMS, but a richer learning experience for your employees. Similar to Sales Readiness, an LEP can be complimentary to your corporate LMS.
Our point of view is that as the market keeps developing, and the definition of sales enablement becomes clearer, you’ll see a delineation between corporate learning, sales enablement & sales engagement categories. What’s becoming clear to us is innovative sales enablement leaders create a mandate to drive revenue and measure outcomes in the CRM.
So, What Store Should You Visit?
- Do you have a large outbound sales team and go-to-market strategy? Consider starting with a Sales Engagement platform.
- Do your buyers LOVE content, assets, and collateral as part of their journey? Consider starting with a CMS.
- Is your sales process a complex, tech/demo-heavy sale with multiple stakeholders? Look for Sales Readiness.
- Is your go-to-market strategy heavily reliant on distribution through a channel partner? Definitely go the LMS route.
- Do you have a curious workforce looking for a modern, fun and easy way to engage and gamify corporate learning? Check out the emerging LEP category.
What Should You Do Before Giving Your Credit Card?
Before you commit to any solution, know your why. Are you going to a wedding? Or are you backpacking? This will obviously determine which shoe store you’ll enter.
Just like if you’re enabling and training an enterprise sales team in a complex selling process, don’t expect to solve your ramp-time issues with a corporate LMS. You’ll need a Sales Readiness platform.
Know which store offers what you need.
Before you go on your shopping spree, check out what others are saying on sites like G2Crowd.
The last thing you want to do is show up at a wedding wearing hiking boots!