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Why Sales Enablement Growth Has Stalled

  • Written by John Moore, Bigtincan
  • Published in Demanding Views

downloadAccording to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately 6.5 million jobs have been added to the U.S. economy since January 2017. Of those 6.5 million jobs, the number of sales enablement positions has grown drastically. In fact, Paul Krajewski, who has been tracking sales enablement job titles on LinkedIn for many years, claims that the number of people with sales enablement in their job title has nearly tripled since 2017. Based on those two data points, it’s safe to assume that the growth of sales enablement is skyrocketing. However, this may not necessarily be the case.

According to the latest CSO Insights Sales Enablement Survey Results, the number of businesses making use of a sales enablement function has shown little change over those three years. In 2017, 59.2% of companies surveyed had a sales enablement team. In 2018, the number inched upward to 61%, crawling only slightly higher to 61.3% in 2019. The number of businesses investing in Enablement has, at least for now, plateaued. But this doesn’t spell the beginning of the end for sales enablement.

A Bloomberg survey of economists in September 2019 survey of economists in September 2019 found that the chances of a recession are increasing. In fact, current estimates show that there is a 35% chance in the next 12 months, up from 20% at the end of last year. These surveys do not mean a recession is guaranteed, but it does mean that an economic downturn is possible, and with it, potential job cuts.

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Initial job cuts generally hit the lower performing staff and teams, which means there should be little impact on sales enablement practitioners, right? A more in-depth review of the CSO Insights Survey results is helpful and most notably stated, “Only 19% of organizations dynamically align their internal processes to the customer’s path. But this one-fifth achieves significantly better results.”

It is this 19% of teams that are delivering incredible results for their businesses. What kind of results? As compared against the average, the following results have been seen:

  • 17.9% better win rates; and
  • 11.8% better quota achievement rates.

Furthermore, 61.3% of respondents said they have a sales enablement function. According to the survey, 19% have their selling processes dynamically aligned to the customer’s path, leading to much better results.

Only 27.5% of the total study’s population met or exceeded their stakeholder expectations. (Remember, it is this group that is achieving significantly better results.) On the other hand, more than 50% of these teams are only meeting SOME of their stakeholder’s expectations, and this group does not move the needle.

This large group of professionals is in companies that are investing in sales enablement and not seeing results. It is this same group of sales enablement professionals who are most at risk of losing their jobs if a recession does occur.

In this case, what do individuals and teams to do? The good news is that sales enablement can have a significant impact on businesses able to do it well. A few tips to help boost that impact include:

  • Download and dig into the full CSO Insights Survey results;
  • Invest in doing sales enablement right. Check out a sales enablement guide to understand how to set up and run a successful sales enablement program; and
  • Start looking into revenue enablement. This form of enablement focuses on achieving alignment, data-driven decisions and uses business metrics to achieve success across the entire buyer journey.

The clock is ticking. Your future and that of your business are in your hands. What path will you choose?


John Moore has more than 20 years of experience in the technology industry, most recently serving as Partner and Director of Development at The Enablement Group – a managed sales content services company – where he was responsible for Customer Success and Product Engineering. Prior to his time at The Enablement Group, John held a number of leadership roles at technology companies, including CTO of The Vault Shift and VP of Solutions Services at Brainshark, Inc. In his role as Vice President of Customer Success at Bigtincan, John oversees and manages the customer success team, responsible for driving customer adoption and ensuring satisfaction with Bigtincan’s solution offerings. Additionally, he orchestrates customer onboarding and rollout to deliver a positive and integrated customer experience.