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What’s all the Hype? Highlights from Gartner’s CRM Sales Hype Cycle Report

The complexity of a sales technology investment today is lightyears away from what it was just a decade ago. Buyers are more educated and informed, the sales software and applications space is saturated and flourishing, and sales organizations have a full plate when it comes to choosing the right tools to enable their teams to succeed while also helping them cater to today’s buyers.

To combat this complexity, Gartner recently released its Hype Cycle for CRM Sales report, which fully analyzes 35 emerging and maturing technologies in CRM for sales to help sales leaders “improve their roadmap for sales execution” and success. Gartner assigns each technology to a segment of its hype cycle, which can be thought of as a steep parabola (starting with the Innovation Trigger, to the Peak of Inflated Expectations and the Trough of Disillusionment), followed by a gradual incline (which includes Slope of Enlightenment and ends with the Plateau of Productivity). If you’re a Gartner customer, you can view the entire report here. If not, we’ve broken down some of the most talked-about sales technologies in the Gartner report below to better understand the hype behind these technologies, what this means for sales organizations, and where budget dollars should be focused in the second half of 2016 and beyond.

At the Peak: Mobile Sales Productivity

  • What are they? These tools—typically mobile apps— help salespeople increase day-to-day productivity by streamlining manual, administrative tasks such as logging emails and phone calls, preparing for and scheduling meetings, and accessing content on-the-go. Mobile sales productivity tools are especially useful for field reps and employees on-the-go, and can automatically adapt to rep behavior and analyze activities to provide case- and rep-specific advice for next steps (such as log notes, update the prospect’s information in CRM, and more).
  • Goals they help achieve: Increasing productivity, streamlining manual tasks, spending more time selling
  • Considerations: Gartner has mobile sales productivity Apps at the “Peak of Inflated Expectations” because these solutions are in a phase of overenthusiasm and potentially unrealistic projections. But the market for mobile sales productivity apps is rapidly maturing, benefits are vast, and demand is high. While mobile sales productivity tools can typically integrate with SFA or CRM systems and can typically improve data quality and user adoption of these systems, they are not capable of replacing them. Sales technology decision makers should be aware that salespeople can purchase these apps on their own—not as part of an enterprise license—so it may be difficult to ensure data accuracy across multiple apps. Gartner says that “it is best to have a strategy to recommend a specific vendor to avoid having multiple apps performing the same task.”
  • Vendor sample: Base, Clari, MobileForce, ToutApp

In the Trough: Sales Analytics

  • What are they? Analytics are top of mind for most sales leaders this year. Sales analytics systems provide descriptive, diagnostic, predictive and prescriptive insights to salespeople to facilitate better decision making. These capabilities are offered by a vast array of vendors, including CRM, business intelligence, and even sales enablement and content management.
  • Goals they help achieve: Identifying growth areas, aligning sales activities with corporate priorities, managing sales goals and expectations (pipelines, forecasts, etc.) effectively
  • Considerations: Sales analytics tools are in Gartner’s “Trough of Disillusionment,” because while many CRM vendors have added tools for integrating sales analytics into their platforms, the “plateau” of widespread adoption is still several years away. Companies haven’t yet begun to extensively adopt tools like predictive analytics or BI, but are open to trying out the native analytics offered by their standard CRM providers. Gartner recommends that sales decision makers continue with this adoption process, and should consider third-party sales analytic apps when “they want to use predictive/prescriptive analytics to help sales reps accelerate deal progress to closure.”
  • Vendor sample: Birst, Domo, GoodData, Salesforce

Entering the Plateau: Digital Content Management for Sales

  • What are they? Digital sales content management applications consist of content repositories, authoring tools, collaborative environments, and all of the collateral necessary to help salespeople sell more effectively and efficiently. According to Gartner, “the leading solutions also provide external delivery and consumption metric capabilities,” which allow salespeople to see how prospects are engaging with content they share. Digital content management solutions for sales also offer deep integration into CRM and SFA tools, allowing for contextual content recommendations or next-best actions based on the buyer’s role, industry, stage in sales cycle, and more.
  • Goals they help achieve: Improving sales efficiency and effectiveness, shortening sales cycles, increasing win rates, delivering the right content to salespeople at the right time
  • Considerations: While “plateau” may have a negative connotation, in Gartner’s Hype Cycle it means that DCM for sales solutions are in the early mainstream phase of maturity and have penetrated 20-50 percent of the total market. These solutions are immensely helpful for organizations that require large volumes of content for complex, time-sensitive and multi-product sales cycles. Digital content management for sales solutions also help with version control and approval processes, making them ideal for compliant organizations. To avoid overlapping solutions in content management, organizations should evaluate these solutions alongside the capabilities provided by incumbent systems such as SFA, CRM, and content usage tracking.
  • Vendor sample: bigtincan, Highspot, Savo, Seismic

Keep in mind that this is a very small sample of the tools that Gartner analyzes in its Hype Cycle for CRM Sales report. The three technologies above are all at various stages of “hype,” as well as maturity, benefit and market penetration, but are typically high priorities for 2017 enterprise sales budgets. For a more in-depth analysis, download Gartner’s report here.