Sales Enablement Defined: What is the Forrester Wave?

March 14, 2019

Executives looking for the best technology solutions to aid in their sales enablement program have various resources at their disposal, one of the best being The Forrester Wave™, which was established to give a thorough analysis of vendor product and service capabilities in all verticals.

We previously outlined the importance of Gartner and its methodology for evaluating technology providers. In continuation with our Sales Enablement Defined blog series, we offer details below regarding The Forrester Wave™ and how its research benefits industry professionals. You can also check out The Forrester Wave™ : Sales Enablement Automation Platforms | Q3 2018 to see where Showpad stacks up in the world of sales enablement tools.

History of Forrester and The Forrester Wave™

Forrester Research was founded in 1983, and has become one of the leading research firms helping executives across industries around the world make informed business decisions that will positively impact their organizations.

Several types of Forrester Wave™ reports are published regularly and use various methodologies to evaluate software and hardware vendors, as well as service providers, in order to assist in the technology buying process. In 2002, after Forrester launched TechRankings, the first Wave™ report was published in 2002, with 30 more published the following year.

Due to the transparent nature of The Forrester Wave™ criteria and evaluation process, it has become one of the most trusted sources in sales enablement technology provider analysis.

The Forrester Wave™ Methodology

The Wave™ is created with the help of an internal analyst and research associate who conduct the analysis and gather data, a vendor response team that provides detailed product and service information, and customer references (provided by the vendor) that offer an anonymous inside perspective of their experience working with the vendor.

Forrester ensures assessed vendors are measured equally, distributing the same questionnaire to every one that qualifies based on the criteria set for their given industry. Vendors then present a demonstration of their product, again leveraging pre-determined criteria set by Forrester, with detailed notes taken on the part of the analyst. Finally, customers are interviewed over the phone or via a survey to verify the information offered by the vendor in the questionnaire.

The final step is to review all information gathered, and score it against a scale determined by the analyst and what capabilities they decide are “best in class.”

Analyzing The Forrester Wave™ Graphic

Conclusive results are written out in detail, but the cornerstone of these reports is the Wave™ graphic. Vendors are displayed graphically across an X/Y axis-X representing the current offering and Y representing strength in the vendor’s strategy. Based on their placement on the axis, vendors are located in one of four “waves,”-Challenger, Contender, Strong Performer, or Leader-represented by different shades of blue. The further to the right and to the top a vendor is, the higher their scores are; Challengers and Contenders have weaker scores while Strong Performers and Leaders score more strongly. The dots along the axis are also different sizes to indicate market presence; a larger dot means that vendor has more customers and higher revenue.


The proliferation of vendors and relative immaturity of the sales enablement industry present sales enablement professionals with a challenge. They need the analysis of experts, such as The Forrester Wave, to better position themselves with buyers. These reports are invaluable tools for sales and sales enablement teams as they seek to establish their technology ecosystem.

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