2022 – Mutations in the Sales Tech Industry

Mutants in Marvel and DC

Marvel and DC comics and films of course are permeated with the notion of mutations (X-Men, Spiderman, Venom etc.). It’s the narrative hook which drives many of their stories, imbuing their characters with all sorts of weird and wonderful superpowers. My fifteen-year-old son Finn is a massive fan of the genre, and I took him to see the new Spiderman movie last week. The cinema was full of teenagers and grown men fist-bumping and hollering as various characters appeared throughout the film (relax I’m not going to give away any spoilers). I turned to my right and noticed my son was doing the exact same, and then it dawned on me, “Oh no, he’s a geek!”.

Sales Tech in 2021 – The New Mutants

I was reminded of mutants this week as I reflected on the fascinating year we’ve seen the sales tech industry go through. We’re seeing a sort of mutation happening as functional convergence and the need to maintain growth and differentiation in a highly competitive market, drives providers to grow new arms and legs and develop strange new powers that we might not have expected just a little while ago. With a combination of a very active M&A scene along with rapid evolution of products and roadmaps, this will have impacts right across sales tech.

B2B interaction insights are the DNA of these sales tech mutations
The rapid acceleration of the digital transformation of sales has placed buyer and customer engagement insights at the top of technology priorities. It is now imperative for B2B organizations to have a comprehensive view into buyer relationships and engagement activity. Organizations need to use this intelligence and insight to improve the buying experience and value delivered during the buying process, whether it’s a new customer, a repeat buyer, or a cross-sell/upsell. Engagement insights are also vital in helping optimize the performance of customer-facing resources and the revenue engine, while providing greater rigor and predictability for future revenue. Revenue Operations and Intelligence (RO&I), Sales Engagement, and Conversation Intelligence (CI) have been the categories so far to deliver these insights to selling organizations. This capability has driven the heady growth rates, funding and valuations of key players in each segment.

Sales Tech in 2022 – Mutations cross into other sales tech categories
As highlighted in our recent New Tech for Revenue Operations and Intelligence, other sales tech categories are looking at both the capabilities and success that RO&I, Sales Engagement, and CI have brought to the market and they want ‘in’. Expect to see sales force automation providers continue to expand their capabilities in this area to help beat back competitive pressure in cross-sells and upsells. Sales performance management providers will, we think, also be considering how these interaction insights can drive more dynamic planning, while CPQ vendors are thinking about how powerful the combination of interactions and transaction insights may be to guide seller activity. Expect to see further messaging and roadmap adjustment in these categories as a result. There may be others as well across ABM and Data Provision who see opportunities, but the major ‘mutation’ we expect to see is in sales enablement.

Sales Enablement platforms to strengthen their visibility and insights into buyer-interaction
Sales enablement platforms have traditionally focused on one primary signal type to deliver insights around interaction – content. While content is an important signal to track throughout the buyer journey, on its own it has limited value. While sales readiness solutions have been adding much needed support for conversation intelligence, enablement leaders often struggle for deep insights into actual day-to-day seller activity as they look to understand activity and search for evidence that the training and onboarding initiatives they deliver are bearing fruit in regard to changing seller behavior and outcomes. Lack of visibility and insights around interaction makes it challenging to consistently deliver a dynamic and pro-active approach to enablement initiatives based on what you can actually see working (or not working) amongst sales teams. What is missing to some extent is an effective feedback loop (performance assessment – enablement intervention – performance assessment) to drive iterative change.

But when you combine content with other signals and insights from buyer interaction and surface this to enablement teams, front line sellers and managers, you now have a rich picture of interaction with which to assess performance, competency gaps and to identify behaviors that are driving success. This allows for a far more agile and iterative approach to enablement. Which is why it’s fascinating to see the news that MediaFly (a revenue enablement and content management provider) has completed the acquisition of InsightSquared (a revenue intelligence platform), bringing content and interaction together. We expect to see more of this in 2022 as other enablement providers look to plug their platforms deeper into buyer interaction.

If you thought 2021 was interesting for sales tech, strap yourself in because 2022 is going to see the pedal pressed to the metal even harder. Here at Forrester we will be covering these changes in detail in blogs and in both our evaluative and best practice research. Following the New Tech for Revenue Operations and Intelligence which we published at the end of last year, Forrester’s first Wave on the same category will be coming out at the end of Q1, so make sure stay connected.

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