What does the future hold for sales enablement in 2021? Well, we haven’t got a crystal ball, but we’ve got the next best thing: 21 predictions from 21 industry experts. 👇

Pssst. We also put all the juicy insights into a handy infographic for you too - check it out here.

So, let's get stuck in.

Adapt, adapt, adapt

1. The one thing I would recommend for sales professionals in 2021 is to be adaptable and remember everyone was impacted by COVID. Get used to more engagement remotely with customers and less in person. Adapt your conversation and customer interactions to be more Zoom friendly. It's the new normal.

-Uttam Reddy, VP, Global Sales Enablement & Strategy, Rackspace Technology

2. It's going to be rough because everything is digital, from training to creating salient materials. We worked that way before, but there was the human touch that saved the day. I think people really need to get their messaging buttoned up: consider WHO they are talking to and what action they are trying to drive in the conversation.

-Angela D'Ercole, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Dun & Bradstreet

3. I would probably say three things:

  • Every great athlete has a coach, someone whose sole purpose is to help them win. Who is your coach?
  • You can’t change what you don’t see: make sure you are constantly reflecting on your sales process.
  • It’s not good enough to know you can add value to a client: you need a plan to create that value in the eyes of your client.

-Dave Nel, National Head of Sales Enablement, Investec

4. I’m advising my clients to stop selling. Well, actually, I advise them to help the customers to buy. It is much more in keeping with the current sales climate, and it works really well.

-Peter Strohkorb, Sales Acceleration Advisor

Social sellers will shine

5. Sales reps with the best personal brands and use of LinkedIn will become lead-generation machines. Sales enablement needs to support this with robust courses and modules on social selling.

Ramp times are going to go up with working from home and digital onboarding becoming the norm - if your LMS isn’t set up for virtual onboarding you’re going to fall behind.

I believe there will be an increased fight for budgets - sales organizations will have to demonstrate clearer ROI to prospects and sales enablement will have to help with this. The number of stakeholders involved in a deal will definitely go up!

There will be an influx of new market entrants and competitors. Sales enablement teams will need to revisit competitor battle cards and case studies.

Data analysis will become more and more important with conversation intelligence tools being so widely used. The next logical iteration has to be recommending actions from the data.

-Aaron Evans, Director of Sales Enablement, GlobalData Plc

6. A bigger emphasis on working with teams remotely, that's for sure!

-Ben Smith, Revenue Enablement, Hudl

Continuous growth will be key

7. There’ll be a shift from sales enablement to rev enablement. Not just about onboarding, but continuous growth, existing customers, bring everyone under the same umbrella.

-Laura Stevenson, Senior Director, Product Marketing, AppDirect

8. What's actually next for enablement? The rise of the customer-facing teams and enablement opportunity.

What we're starting to see is a huge trend, especially in smaller, faster-growing companies of enablement as a function, starting to enable more than just sales - customer success, account management, customer support

-Steve Mayernick, Head of Product Marketing, Guru

9. Without wanting to sound too pretentious, I think the key thing for sales professionals to keep front of mind for the coming year is empathy. Understanding what is important for your clients and what they might be feeling has always been critical in Sales and in the coming climate more so than ever.

-Josh Smith, Head of Sales Enablement at theguardian.com

10. To be successful in 2021, sales enablement must be seen as a strategic discipline that is set apart from other functions, and that ensures consistency and effectiveness by orchestrating the efforts of multiple collaborators.

-Felix Dumitrica, Head of Sales Enablement, Europe, Freshworks

Challenges ahead - and opportunities

11. I'd say the main challenge will be getting buy-in and stakeholder alignment with everyone being remote.

-Ashton Williams, Sales Enablement Manager, Ada

12. I think the biggest change will be the customer expectation of a seamless experience. In many B2B orgs, the handoffs between SDR>Sales>Onboarding>Customer Success are not smooth and many times buyers feel like they are working with 4 different companies. I believe sales enablement will be tasked with streamlining that process. That is the opportunity. The challenge with that is many times sales enablement sits in sales, and it is much more difficult to coordinate across functions.

-Brett Trainor, Founder & General Partner, iQuipt Ventures

13. The opportunities will be to:

  • Show the value of sales enablement. KPIs and reporting should be part of any enablement plan. And no, surveys are not the answer. We need to show true value to the sales org, have we increased deal size? Reduced the sales cycle? etc.
  • Tools! Leverage tools to create engaging training, track and report on KPIs and think about creating new ways of delivering training to reps, when and where they need it.

-Brenda Basista, Sr Manager, Sales Enablement: Global Inside Sales, PayPal

14. Things aren’t going to return to normal even after the pandemic. Virtual selling is here to stay so there’ll be a bigger reliance on content and helping sellers to create engaging experiences.

-Jake Miller, Product Marketing Manager, Allego

15. The future of training will include AR/ VR and much more, so be curious and keep innovation in mind!

-Gaëlle Soussan-Elgazar, Global Sales Enablement Manager, HP

16. Gone are the days of sellers being tied into an office: but doesn't mean in-person enablement will ever go away. I'm so excited for the day that I get to do an onboarding bootcamp in person again, because I love doing that - it's one of my favorite things. But also realizing I have to find ways to still onboard our new hires in a digital way, and make them feel connected and make them feel welcome. Make them feel at home in their own home.

-Danny De Los Santos, Curriculum, Strategy & Training Team Manager, Atlassian

17. Nowadays, we can't play by the old rules - the game has changed and it's time to think like a start-up again. Only the businesses who figure this out will survive.

-Priya Sachdev, Global Sales Enablement Director, GlobalStep

18. 90% of B2B companies expect ‘customer experience’ to be the next battleground, trumping product and price. However, 77% of B2B buyers feel that making a purchase is too complicated and time-consuming. We need to change this by breaking down silos between sales, marketing, CX and services.

-Louis Jonckheere, President, Chief Product Officer & Co-Founder, Showpad

Keeping learning interesting

19. People are primarily getting really tired of e-learning. How can we make training more fun and more engaging? How can we try to replicate the in-person bonding experiences we get from SKOs and onboarding bootcamps? Even after we can travel, does it really make sense to fly people to the US from the UK, Australia, etc. for training sessions?

From an opportunity standpoint, how often do we get a chance to really rethink programs from first principles? In some sense, it's exciting, but wow, it's going to be a lot of work.

-Tim Peterson, Director, Sales Enablement, PagerDuty

20. The whole automation process has to get better because you can't rely on that personal contact. You have to find a mechanism for consciously doing what you have done for years unconsciously.

It's the same with learning: you've got to consciously adapt your classroom skills. So there's a mindset change, we're gonna have to learn fast, but also the technology's going to be there to help.

-Phil Chew, Partner, WGR Consulting

21. The next year, or even for like the next five years and beyond, it's going to be about feedback. How do we build this culture and this loop of feedback? Whether you're remote or in the office, how are we giving reps the feedback they need, at the right time at the right place, so that you can improve?

-Tom Cheriyan, Sales Enablement Manager, OwnBackup

Grab the infographic 👇