2020 Research:
The State of Sales Enablement 

NO vendor money

NO special interest groups

100% TRANSPARENT research methodology


... And NO forcing people to answer on a scale of 1-5

We gathered unfiltered thoughts to find gaps and opportunities based on what experts, practitioners, sales leaders, academics, and consultants are seeing. 

The findings may surprise you...


We conducted the most comprehensive research on the state of sales enablement to date, so you have the actionable insights you need to drive 


This research is not about creating another definition for sales enablement and it's not about defending an existing definition.  It's about understanding what's happening and how to improve.

What started out as a simple inquiry became two profound questions: 

  • Why does sales enablement exist? 

  • What's the value of sales enablement?

Sales enablement is at a cross-roads...

There is a lot of focus on fixing salespeople and very little focus on addressing the sales and marketing eco-system and the complexity that exists.

Sales enablement needs to clarify it's value, scope, and impact

Sales enablement leaders need to develop specific characteristics

Sales enablement needs to clarify the measures of success

There's a difference between data and insight. 

  • Data are a rear-view mirror.  This information comes from systems and spreadsheets. It leads to a reaction based on assumptions of cause-and-effect. For example, if a score is 4.3 on a scale of 5 it's time to do something.  Data can lead to snap judgment on what's right or wrong based on existing biases of "what to do."

  • Insights are real-time and future-oriented.  Instead of coming from spreadsheets, information is collected from humans. Each carefully vetted human has his or her own perspective, mental-model, decision-making approach, and priorities. Each human sees the world differently. Insight leads to dialogue and opportunities based on "what's possible."

Ultimately, research fuels leader decision-making. In today's highly dynamic, volatile, uncertain, and ambiguous world, research must be grounded to reality.  What if research inputs could come from humans who are immersed in the reality of the day-to-day, and not from survey responses compiled on a 1-5 scale in 3 minutes or less?

What's the value of the human brain?  Do humans make sense of the world around them and adapt? Do they struggle to communicate what they're seeing?  Do they have a way to identify what's working?  What if we could tap the collective wisdom while managing bias?

We figured out a new research method grounded in brain-science while at the same time managing a broad range of human perspectives through a procedure that created executable insights for our listeners.  We documented this research method below.  

To Your Success,

Transparent Research Timeline

March 4


  • Virus cases top 100 in the United States.

  • Brian and Scott record 5-Part COVID-19 response podcast series (3/21-3/30)

  • Listen to the episode that launched the state of sales enablement research - Part 2 (16:15)

April 4

State of SE Survey Launches World Wide

State of Sales Enablement Survey Launches using google forms to collect the data. The guys worked to gather responses from a variety of industries. They also reached out to leaders and practitioners, and academics, consultants, and vendors.

April 11

70 Survey Responses

70 responses in first week

April 18

85+ Survey Responses

85+ Responses in 2nd week from companies like HP, Amazon Web Services, Pega Systems, Mimecast, and Soleil

April 21


Podcast Ep 33: Inside Sales Enablement episode with a review of the data from Sales Enablement Leaders in the profession, including:

  1. Tamara Schenk

  2. Josie Marshburn

  3. Mike Kunkle

Read the report and write up​   |   Listen to the Episode

April 24

We completed interviewing 15+ leaders in Sales VP, Sales Enablement, and Sales Management roles. Companies include Google, Juniper, Ring Central, Microsoft, Salesforce.com, SalesHood, and Microfocus. See the interview list.

April 29

Brian and Scott complete interviewing HR, L&D, and sales enablement leaders from companies like Red Hat, Avalara, Git Lab, Mastercard, and SSI, Seismic, and Highspot. See the interview list.

May 1


Podcast 34: Inside Sales Enablement published including:

  1. Skip Miller, CEO of M3 Learning

  2. Bob Apollo, CEO of Inflexion Point Strategy Partners

  3. Steve Crepeau, CEO of True Sales Results

Read the report and write up​   |   Listen to the Episode

May 5


Podcast 35: Inside Sales Enablement published including:

  1. Sheevaun Thatcher, CPC, Head of Sales and Global Enablement, RingCentral

  2. Imogen McCourt, Sales Enablement Leader & Advocate | Delivering the 'Business of Sales'

  3. Doug Clower, Sales Enablement Leader, and Consultant

Read the report and write up​   |   Listen to the Episode

May 7


Podcast 36: Inside Sales Enablement published including:

  1. Barry Shields, Director, Customer Experience Training & Enablement, Avalara

  2. Garth McKinney, L&D Sales Consultant Red Hat

  3. David Sommers, Director Field Enablement GitLab

Read the report and write up​   |   Listen to the Episode

May 11


Podcast 37: Inside Sales Enablement published including:

  1. Dr. Robert Perterson, Editor Journal of Professional Selling and Professor of Sales at Northern Illinois University 

  2. Dr. Joel Lebron, Johns Hopkins University Digital Business Development Initiative

  3. Dr. Howard Dover, Director, Center for Professional Sales at University of Texas Dallas

Read the report and write up​   |   Listen to the Episode

May 12

102 Survey Responses

102 total survey responses received. 

May 13


Podcast 38: Inside Sales Enablement published including:

  1. Brian King, Sales Enablement Executive

  2. Sameer Rupani, Chief Customer Officer / Business Leader

  3. Greg Peelman,  Vice President of Operations, North America, Ecolab

Read the report and write up​   |   Listen to the Episode

May 19

Executive Briefing and Findings

Interviews Conducted (April 8-May 10 2020)
  1. Josie Mashburn, CEO of Sales enablement Benchmark

  2. Bob Apollo, sales consulting

  3. Tamara Schenk, Author

  4. Steve Crepeau, True Sales Results  

  5. Glen Lally, VP Global Enablement, Google

  6. Hang Black, VP Global Enablement, Juniper

  7. Sheevaun Thacker, VP Global Enablement, Ring Central

  8. Doug Clower, Director Enablement, Microfocus

  9. Jared Litwin, VP Sales Enablement, Salesforce.com

  10. Elay Cohen, CEO Saleshood

  11. Brian King, SVP Sales Operations and Enablement, IHG

  12. Angie Voutsara, consumer distribution

  13. Deb Honea, Sr Director Sales Excellence, Sysco

  14. Greg Peelman, Vice President of Operations, Ecolab

  15. Sameer Rupani, SVP Customer Solvay

  16. Mike Kunkle, VP Sales Excellence SparksIq

  17. Skip Miller, CEO Level 3

  18. Doug Winter, CEO Seismic

  19. Joe Terry, CEO Vantage Point and Marketing Profs

  20. Kunal Mehta, Operating Executive TCV

  21. Cameron Tanner, Sr Lead Sales Productivity and Effectiveness, Amazon Web Services

  22. Imogen McCourt, CEO AndGrow.io (formerly Argus Media and Forrester Research)

  23. Dr. Howard Dover, Professor University of Texas – Dallas

  24. Gerhard Gschwandtner, CEO of Selling Power Magazine

  25. Steve Patti, VP Racing Fuel, Professor Trinity University

  26. John Thackerson, VP Business Development, SOAR consulting  

  27. Fred Penteado, Director of Customer Programs, SBI

  28. Walter Pollard, CEO Brand Fuzion

  29. Elana Anderson, CMO Veracode

  30. Robert Peterson, Professor Northern Illinois University

  31. Joel Len Bon, Professor Johns Hopkins University

  32. Barry Shields, Director Customer experience training & enablement, Avalara

  33. Garth McKinney, L&D Consultant Red Hat

  34. David Sommers, Director Field Enablement GitLab

  35. Scott King, Head of Global Sales Enablement and Commercial Strategy, Progress Software

  36. Krishna Depura, CEO Mind Tickle

  37. Nick Saunders, Sr. Director of Sales Enablement at Mimeast

  38. Louis Jonckheere, Co-Founder & President, Showpad

  39. Robert Wahbe, CEO Highspot

  40. Chad Quinn, CEO and Co-founder Ecosystems

  41. Lindsey Gore, Account Executive Microsoft

  42. Brooke Spatz, Head of Sales Enablement, Omnitracs

  43. Alexander Low, DLA ignite

Leave us a Comment!

Global data on:

  1. If sales enablement were a business, what business would it be in?

  2. Who is the customer of sales enablement?

  3. If sales enablement were a stock, would you buy it, sell it, or short it?

  4. If you were to write a letter to shareholders about your SE "business" what would you write?
    ..and more.

Panel podcasts from sales leaders, sales enablement leaders, training, and consultants, asking:

  1. Having looked at the survey findings, what are a few things that stood out to you?  

  2. What was your favorite question, and why? 

  3. What do you see as the future of sales enablement based on the data?

Comprehensive responses from top performers with 10+ years of experience as:

  • Sales enablement leaders in small, medium, and large companies

  • Sales enablement practitioners representing talent, operations, and content

  • Sales academics actively researching sales enablement

  • Sales leaders

  • Marketing leaders

  • Sales consultants

About the Blended Research Method

The 2020 State of the Sales Enablement research follows a blended Phenomenological and Ethnographic qualitative research method. Phenomenological research is used to describe an event, activity, or phenomenon, we use a combination of methods, such as conducting interviews, reading documents, watching videos, or visiting places and events, to understand the meaning participants place on whatever’s being examined. We rely on the participants’ own perspectives to provide insight into their motivations.

With an Ethnography approach, we also immerse ourselves in the sales enablement participants’ environment to understand the goals, cultures, challenges, motivations, and themes that emerge. Ethnography has its roots in cultural anthropology where researchers immerse themselves within a culture (often for years).  Beyond relying solely on interviews or surveys, we work to experience the environment first hand, and sometimes as a "participant observer."
As researchers taking this blended approach, we are not looking at a given specific set of hypotheses to test; instead, we're looking to understand how people think and believe the Sales Enablement space is evolving. Our approach to this research is a markedly different approach from quantitative research (for example, analyzing answers on a 1-5 scale with hypotheses to reject or not). 

©2020 by Inside Sales Enablement.