At Ambition, we spend a lot of time talking with sales and sales enablement leaders at some of the most respected companies in the world. 

What we’ve found is that even in these sophisticated companies, it’s still a challenge to keep track of the rapid change and evolution of the Sales Enablement ecosystem and the tools they should be considering. 

Ambition sits at the crossroads of several “core” software categories that are critical to sales enablement — specifically, Sales Performance Management tools and Sales Coaching software.

Because there is so much overlap and rapid evolution, we at Ambition have a metaphor we believe in and share with our clients: 


Where, What, How, and Why

Brain, Muscle, Heart 


  • Where: The CRM is the database — and let’s be honest: in 2020, it’s almost always Salesforce. This is the “brain,” where a significant amount of key customer data lives. 

  • How: Sales Acceleration tools are the muscle of your team: they’re how your reps power through key activities to activate and move prospects forward. This is your Outreach tool that gets you in touch with prospects. There are some amazing providers like Salesloft, RingDNA, DialSource, and others.

    Additionally, we’ve seen the incredible impact of Conversation Intelligence tools for sales reps like Chorus, Gong, and Execvision that allow for rapid call recording, and NLP that provide clarity and a guideline for “how to have more effective conversations”. 

  • Why: At Ambition, we believe the Why is the heart of sales. The best sales organizations know that the ability to inspire, challenge, and develop their talent is the ultimate key to success. 

Historically, the “Why” was served with traditional Sales Performance Management tools. But those legacy players are giving way to a new generation of powerful sales coaching, motivation, and training products. 

The diversity of tools and systems in this category is the reason for this guide. The explosion of Sales Enablement tools has generated a host of overlapping and connected tools that are creating advantages for sales teams adopting early. 

Like Simon Sinek, we believe ultimately everything comes down to the Why. And success in sales is no different. (Which is why every new employee who starts at Ambition gets to watch this video on their first day with the company.) 

For the purpose of this post, we want to focus on the trending G2 Grids of two very popular categories of software that taps into the why: 

Sales Performance Management Software 


Sales Coaching Software


(Keep in mind: for this post, we’re focusing on the “Why” tools — so while you may see some of the “How” tools on this grid, we’ll save those for another day.)

What You Need to Know about Sales Performance Management Software

  • Align KPIs to focus on core business metrics

  • Highlight trends in performance and gaps in metrics

  • Leverage to run quota management and sales compensation

  • Incentivize behavior change and focus attention to drive results

Players you need to know: 

  1. Xactly

  2. Callidus Cloud

  3. Spiff 

  4. Ambition

  5. Hoopla

  6. LevelEleven


Legacy: Excel by Microsoft, too many Salesforce reports, IBM, Oracle, Nice

If you are starting a sales team today, after you decide who you’re selling to and who is on your team, you need to get 3 things in place ASAP:

  • CRM (Salesforce)
  • Outreach (or similar, see above)
  • A system that tracks + creates accountability to performance. ← This is what the below systems were designed to do.
  1. Xactly is the most “modern” player of the enterprise ICM (incentive compensation management) tools. Not only do they allow you to get real time access into rep quota attainment and financial impact data, their platform also provides anonymous reporting comparing rep performance to peers. Takeaway: Commission is critical, and Xactly is great at this, at scale. 

  2. Callidus Cloud (now part of SAP) is an aggregation of a series of products that allows enterprise companies to manage commission, goals, and sales people. The tool set spans a variety of use cases and can be customized (with help) to solve almost any business case. Fun fact, Chris Cabrera, the CEO of Xactly, left Callidus to start the “cloud” version, which he still runs today. Takeaway: Callidus is still relevant but as complex as it is powerful.

  3. Spiff is a more lightweight, customizable commission tracking / incentive tool that connects with Salesforce. As far as ICM, it’s a slick product that appears to be comparatively easy to use. Takeaway: As Callidus and Xactly gravitate toward more complex and 'enterprise' type sales orgs, Spiff is attacking the segment below.

  4. Ambition is gamification and coaching software for sales teams. The product specializes in the alignment of KPI goals across business segments, roles, teams, all the way down to the individual rep. Ambition gives managers a series of levers to both ignite competition and action, like sales floor TVs, a flexible competition engine, and real-time alerts for celebration or course correcting. Rep scorecards and insights allow for better accountability and employee retention. Takeaway: Powerful system for managers and leaders to change behavior and build culture. 

  5. Hoopla is a sales TV and contest product that syncs closely with reporting from Salesforce and some other systems. The tool allows sales operations admins and others to create TVs and alerts with metric data in customizable views for various sales audiences. The product is easy to use and has metric flexibility from Salesforce reports. Takeaway: Cost effective and useful sales TVs for stats and competitions. 

  6. Leveleleven is a product that lives on top of Salesforce data to track key sales metrics, and it provides management tools to create accountability and motivation. Like Ambition, the product has a series of useful functions like custom scorecards, flexible sales TVs, and a contest builder. The platform allows managers and reps insight to performance and metric attainment. Takeaway: Good performance and management tied closely to Salesforce metrics. 

  7. is a robust data platform that syncs with Salesforce and automatically captures data from places like email and calendar to create a rich intelligence layer. The product can have a major impact on visibility and reporting by removing the manual process of uploading or syncing data across systems. Takeaway: creates a rich net of data to drive productivity from while eliminating manual steps.

What You Need to Know About Sales Coaching Software 

  • A “system of record” for sales coaching, progress, and checkpoints

  • Provides visibility and reporting of performance progression individually over time

  • Allows for on-boarding and ongoing rep development with content and resources

  • Leverages gamification and motivation tools to impact adoption and motivation

  • Maximizes managers’ ability to coach and train reps

  • Provides guidance to adopt to sales process and metric benchmarks

Players you need to know: 

  1. Lessonly

  2. MindTickle

  3. Brainshark

  4. LevelJump

  5. Showpad Coach 

  6. Ambition

  7. Xvoyant

  8. Leveleleven 

Legacy: Yellow notepads, Salesforce, 3-ring binders with old sales presentations.

The rise of Sales Enablement has been fueled by a series of converging trends. 

One of these is the explosion of data about any and all interactions we’re having with our customers, and how that data can be harnessed to improve outcomes. 

Another is the employer shift in mentality to investing in, developing, and maximizing the productivity and effectiveness of their people. The harsh truth of hiring sales reps is that companies lose significant time and capital when they fail to “ramp” the sales reps. 

And lastly, there’s a generational shift: the employee population has turned over from majority Baby Boomers to majority millennials, who have a different worldview and set of baseline expectations. Telling a person in their mid-30s you won’t know how well they’re performing against their sales goals until the end of the day or a dashboard refresh (OR until the end of the month when operations runs the reports) is preposterous. Especially when you consider their phone or smartwatch provides visibility into everything else they care about — health, finance, traffic, fitness — in real time. 

So to maximize the potential of your talent and nurture them to keep them growing with your company, sales leaders need a new set of tools to coach and develop their people. 

  1. Lessonly is a hyper flexible LMS system that can be used to build simple or complex training programs for sales teams. The product can embed directly into Salesforce which streamlines the challenge for enablement teams to train and get reps ready to sell. Takeaway: Easy to use, flexible system for training and updating reps on information.  

  2. MindTickle is a product that has evolved in the sales coaching space over a number of years, and ecompasses sales readiness tools to train reps in addition to tracking data on sales KPIs down stream. The product ties in elements of gamification to move reps through the process and incentivize finishing content. Takeway: Robust sales training and readiness system to allow for better coaching and rep effectiveness. 

  3. Brainshark provides sales enablement teams a platform with video coaching and scoring to train on pitch and product demonstrations, as well as host content to improve ‘readiness’. Their platform also allows you to create customer facing content or embed trainings for your customers to utilize. Takeway: Enterprise-grade solution for internal and external training as well as ability to content, videos,  and to score recordings of readiness. 

  4. LevelJump has the ability to give Enablement a clear view of how their training and readiness programs are affecting revenue outcomes. The product is integrated tightly into Salesforce so that reporting shows the impact of programs versus milestones. Takeaway: A native Salesforce product that is flexible enough to provide readiness and coaching tools with downstream analytics.

  5. Showpad Coach is a flexible, video based tool that gives enablement the ability to provide detailed scoring and notes on rep practice pitches and demonstrations, as part of the broader Showpad content management system. The tool is used not only for onboarding but also continued training of reps. Being integrated with data from customer content interaction allows Sales Enablement a full view of how content is being consumed and how reps are utilizing / mastering the content available. Takeaway: Data-rich platform that benefits both training and ongoing development of reps capabilities. 

  6. Ambition is a powerful system where sales enablement leaders can record every 1:1 coaching session. They can also measure the impact of those sessions, both by scoring them as well as creating and tracking goals and action plans that are tied to each session. Out-of-the-box templates allow managers to do pipeline or call coaching in the platform, all of which is directly tied into real performance metrics and business outcome data. This robust coaching “timeline” is enhanced by rich coaching reporting for leadership and gamification levers to build a strong coaching culture. Takeway: Ambition combines enterprise-level visibility into coaching with easy-to-adopt coaching tools for managers.  

  7. Xvoyant is a Salesforce-integrated product that allows for powerful opportunity and pipeline coaching, directly tied to stages in the CRM. The tool gives managers a strong visual sense of progress and risks, while moving reps through a structured process. By tying activity to the pipeline stage progression, reps can begin to understand what activity is moving deals forward. Takeway: Useful sales coaching system for advancing opportunity and pipeline connected to Salesforce. 

  8. LevelEleven integrates natively with Salesforce, and its sales coaching feature allows high-level visibility into core metric performance and consistent sales 1:1s. The product is also integrated with their motivation tools for fun engagement. Enablement can create templates and action items for completion. Takeway: Functional platform tied into standard and custom Salesforce objects for consistent coaching process. 

Bottom line: If you’re like most sales teams, you probably have your What and your How — your brain and your muscle — in place. Those tools are 100% essential to the success of your sales team.

But they’re not enough. 

If you truly want to engage your reps, empower them to hit their goals, and develop them into the best sellers they can possibly be: you need tools that give your people purpose — a reason and a desire to succeed. You need the Why.

If you’re evaluating Sales Performance Management or Sales Coaching software: see why Ambition is rated higher than its competitors by G2.

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