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BLOG 15.05.2020

Help Sales to Engage

by Peter O’Neill, Research Director Research In Action.

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 North America. This 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{9388bcb60c6488a42b9434699bbf55e32510a7f2522b97b882e05d0ad226590f} 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 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.

Always keeping you informed!

Peter O’Neill