There will be a $30 billion market for sales acceleration technologies by 2017, according to the collected wisdom of such companies as Gartner Group, Aberdeen, ABI Research and many others.

The drivers of this trend: 33 billion Internet-connected devices, which are expected to be operational in the market by 2020 generating all sorts of data and revenue.

Meanwhile one in five vehicles are expected to have wireless network connections by 2020 … customer engagements will be transformed as new market opportunities are created … and so on and so on.

I know what you're thinking.

"I know all that. What does sales acceleration have to do with it? Heck, what is sales acceleration?"

Glad You Asked

Sales acceleration has been poorly defined. It can be poorly understood as some of its features overlap with others in the larger CRM ecosystem.

Sometimes it is referred to as other categories in the sales tech space, such as sales enablement or even more confusing, marketing automation.

Sometimes it is called something else entirely.

Aberdeen Group, for example, calls this software category automated engagement tracking software. It's also been called revenue acceleration.

Let's Start with a Definition

A definition, clearly, is in order: Sales acceleration is a set of tools that drives, pushes, promotes the sales cycle  — that is, their goal is to push a sale across the finish line. 

These tools include predictive analytics as well as tools that help automate routine tasks associated with sales, such as like auto dialers or sequencers that build nurture campaigns

That is according to LiveHive CMO Micheline Nijmeh, one of the companies active in this nascent space.

Still confused? She goes on:

"Marketing automation or sales enablement technologies — depending on where you sit in the corporate suite — can be found at the very top of the sales funnel. These might include training, prospect engagement or lead qualifications.

"Marketing automation builds and personalizes the content, generates leads and then hands off those leads to sales for nurturing," Nijmeh told CMSWire. We are still at close to the top of the funnel, and this is where sales acceleration enters. "It's where the action is."

Sales acceleration tools include deep engagement analytics to help organizations understand the buyers’ interests and adapt and personalize their engagement according to those interests and needs.

There is grunt work in this part of the cycle too and here the advanced automation tools focus on these tasks, such as email sequencing.

Taken together, these tools provide a consistent view and sales roadmap for an organization, she says.

Or Maybe Not

Now here's an alternative view of sales acceleration: it is the same old technologies that have been coming onto the market but dressed up in new marketing-speak that add a veneer of being forward-looking and backed by science.

After all, what better category of software to do this but marketing and sales? 

Certainly it would be easy to find dissenting vendors and customers about sales acceleration's view of the sales cycle and the distinct roles marketing and sales still have.

The New Reality for Sales

Except, except …. sales is changing and as the infographic below shows, it will change even more dramatically as new gadgets and data comes online.

Statistics show that buyers start contacting sales organizations much later in their decision-making process have done far more research than ever before. It is not a stretch to say the classic sales funnel is obsolete in this environment.

Here is how Nijmeh describes the chief benefit of sales acceleration and to me it rings true how more advanced buyers are now. "In the past sales has been dependent on marketing to provide them with information about the customer. They have relied on marketing for the personalization. Sales needs to have the same tools and the same insight in understanding the customer from the beginning, just as marketing."

Without it, she says, the sale is lost even before it leaves marketing's hands.