2023 was a mixed year for enablement, with layoffs and budget cuts slowing what has been an upward trend for the function in the past few years.
With that said, the enablement community continued to show its strength, camaraderie, and supportive nature in the face of adversity and reminded us of why it’s so great.
The arrival of January brings on a new year of opportunities for enablement professionals worldwide, and a new swathe of challenges to adapt to.
One of the greatest resources available to any enabler is, well, other enablers! We asked members of the SEC Slack community to share their expectations, predictions, and trends for the enablement function in 2024.
While 2023 was certainly a breakout year for the use of artificial intelligence in sales and enablement, what lies ahead in 2024?
Here’s what your peers think:
Recruitment for enablement roles will trend upwards
This might be the year where enablement teams won't have to continuously prove their worth to secure their position in the company.
"I think enablement will be recognized without question as an essential part of most organizations, same as any other function.
“After last year's mass layoffs in enablement, the recruitment for enablement roles seems to be picking back up again globally, specifically for enablement leadership roles.”
This is one prediction we’re definitely crossing our fingers for at SEC HQ!
The future of sales enablement will be automated
Let’s face it: The marriage between enablement and data has been a rocky one. But it’s 2024, and it's high time we address the elephant in the room.
“Sales enablement leaders, listen up: The game has changed. It's all about making data not just available, but actionable.
“We've been sitting on a goldmine of data in systems like Salesforce, but let’s be real – how many of our reps and managers genuinely know how to mine these digital depths for golden insights?
They're juggling dozens of opportunities, leads, and accounts. Expecting them to magically find that needle in the haystack of data? Wishful thinking.
But how does Thomas envision this current situation changing? Data automation. Here’s how:
This is where we shake things up with data automation. Remember the REKS framework from Winning by Design? Results, Effort, Knowledge, Skills – it’s solid, but there’s a missing link.
“We need to connect Results with Effort, and that’s where data automation enters the chat. Picture this: Renewals should start 90 days out, but who’s keeping track?
“The system should be. Imagine an automated alert to your CSMs: “Heads up, your deal with Pepsi needs attention for renewal – get on it!” This isn’t just a nudge; it’s a strategic push at the perfect moment.
“Or let's talk about when a sales rep flags a competitor in a deal. The old-school approach? Hope they remember their training or find that battlecard buried somewhere in their inbox.
“The 2024 approach? Hit them with an automated, “Hey, you’re up against Acme Corp – here’s your battlecard link. Go get ‘em, tiger!”
“We’ve been hoarding data like it's going out of style for the past 30 years. It’s time to stop just collecting and start intelligently using it.
We’re in the era of ‘do more with data.’ It’s about turning data into a sales enablement superhero, swooping in with the right info at the right time.
Thomas wants to change how sales enablement teams think about and approach data in 2024 - believing that simply having access to data doesn’t mean anything if it’s not genuinely contributing to your enablement efforts.
Let’s cut to the chase. It’s not enough to have data; it’s about making that data work for us, tirelessly, behind the scenes. It’s about empowering our teams with information that’s not just accessible, but also actionable and timely.
“As we plunge headfirst into 2024, the message is clear: Embrace data automation in sales enablement or get left behind. This isn’t just about keeping up with the times; it’s about being a step ahead, redefining the game, and turning what was once a pipe dream into everyday reality.
"Welcome to the future of sales enablement – it’s automated, it’s smart, and it’s about time.”
Shifting from making sure reps know, to making sure reps do
Jonathan Mahan, Co-Founder of The Practice Lab, expects skill development to be a key focus for enablement teams in 2024.
I think we'll continue to see the emphasis of enablement efforts shift away from making sure reps know what they need to know, and towards making sure reps are able to do what they need to do.
"Less focus on knowledge transference, and more on skill development.
“Enablement teams are frustrated by consistently putting so much effort into designing and launching top-notch training programs just to watch call recordings a month later and see that no one is implementing what they've learned.
And it’s not just enablement teams getting frustrated according to Jonathan. He’s expecting to see mentalities continue to shift this year.
“Similarly, a lot of companies are seeing that nothing is really changing on the sales team in terms of behaviors and results and the C-Suite are wondering how they can justify growing/maintaining their enablement team when the impact on revenue isn't there - or at least isn't visible.
From what I've seen, enablers and sales leaders alike are starting to realize that there's a big difference between knowing/understanding what great selling looks like, and being able to execute great selling on live calls when the pressure is on.
“The hope and assumption when I was a rep five years ago was that once we knew better then we would do better, but that's proving to be a faulty assumption that many enablement teams are questioning (shoutout to Seismic, Snowflake, Salesloft, and a few others who have already made this shift in thinking!)”.
The quality of a rep’s work will matter more than ever before
James Pursey, CEO of Replicate, believes that understanding the difference between reps with a high or low quality of work could be a difference-maker for enablement teams in 2024 - as it can be directly correlated to positive business outcomes.
I think businesses will focus on the quality of work of reps more than ever as it will directly correlate to yield and profitability.
"Businesses squeezed excess margins, then laid people off - their only remaining option now to increase yield is to materially improve the efficacy of their team.
“This will lead to a revolution in how reps are managed, coached and measured and enablement will finally have its day.
James explained that he believes measuring reps’ quality of work is the natural next step for organizations and enablement teams to take.
Quality of work is the only real lever remaining to materially improve yield, but it’s not measured at all.
"I expect to see companies doing more scorecards, finding smarter ways to use tools like Gong, and doing more audits.
“When that shines a light on how poor the transition is from the training floor to the sales floor, a fire will be lit for enablement at exec level.
“But it all starts with a measurement for work quality that compliments outcome and activity measurements to give a better understanding of productivity.”
James proposes a “rep productivity formula” consisting of: Productivity = Quality x Activity x Target.
In the following example, James shows how this formula could highlight a rep who is hitting target through luck:
In 2024, James expects this shifting focus to be a key trend to watch for.
Empowering enablement in 2024
Stephanie White, Senior Director of Revenue Enablement, told us that enablement should approach the new year in a different way to the up-and-down 2023.
In 2024 we should see a shift to enablement that is empowered.
“2023 was a year of restructures, plugging holes, doing more with less and stretching our teams and individuals to the limits. Enablers did incredible things to keep go-to-market teams running.
“Now, we’ll see more enablers empowering themselves with self-development, skills training, and leaning into new technologies to make our lives easier and focusing on the human element that we do best.
Stephanie expects enablement professionals to lean on their peers even more in 2024 as the function continues to evolve:
Community, connections, peer networking, and our own growth plans will take a larger and larger stage as we prepare ourselves to truly lead in the next generation of revenue enablement.
From defining enablement to expanding enablement
Jocelle Sarenpa, Director of Sales Enablement & Training for Field Nation, noticed a pattern while speaking to enablers from all over the world in 2023:
"The past five or six years have really been about defining enablement:
What we do and don't do, who we are, what are the most applicable and sought-after skills, where do we align, what are the core fundamentals we all do?
"I'm making the bold prediction that 2024 will be a shift in expanding who we are, what we do, and abandoning the frameworks for the sake of greater fluidity - especially borrowing from other functions and disciplines.
"I have found parallel application with peripheral roles like facilitators, mediators, coaches and teachers.
"I even see borrowing from other cultures as a means of expanding authentic human connection and trust. For example, Americans borrowing from our friends LATAM - the culture of meeting in-person first getting to know one another, establishing a bond, then entering into a business agreement.
"Maybe this looks like more on-site visits; the resurgence of the road warrior salespeople, maybe this looks like more company-sponsored user groups and community.
Not for the sake of selling more, but for the sake of truly being in service of the customer.
"With the pendulum swinging so far towards tech and automation, the natural response ought be to swing back towards authentic communication and human connection.
"We're tasked with becoming more adaptable; more flexible to support our customers (sales leaders, salespeople, operations, etc) and we can do this borrowing skills and tactics from other professions, disciplines, and cultures.
There you have it! Six experienced enablers, six predictions and expected trends for the industry in 2024.
Have you adapted the way you approach sales enablement in 2024? Share your learnings, ask for advice, or just network with your peers in our Slack community of over 8,000 members just like you.
What are you waiting for?