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Ep6 Inside the Conference Board Sales Enablement Council Meeting
Episode 628th June 2019 • Inside: Sales Enablement • Scott Santucci, Brian Lambert, Erich Starrett
00:00:00 01:02:17

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Welcome to the Inside Sales Enablement Podcast, Episode 6

What's going on in the Sales Enablement space -- specially with companies looking to evolve their sales strategy?

In this special edition, Brian Lambert catches up with Scott Santucci after a two-day Council Meeting of Sales Enablement Executives.

At the beginning of 2018, the Conference Board received requests from its members (large businesses) to form a council to explore the emerging role of sales enablement in order to establish the foundations for developing and running this new function. The group is invitation-only and works to create insights based on the practical experiences of its members. Members include leaders from large companies representing diverse industries including financial services,high technology, business services, hospitality and manufacturing. 

Scott Santucci serves as the program director of the group (on a contract basis). Through the process of norming, storming, and forming - the group is developing new ways to gain insights from different industries.  When you look at the forest from the trees, new patterns begin to emerge.  What we are learning is that for B2B sales, the sales execution problems that Intercontinental Hotels Group and Microsoft are far more similar than they are different.  Regardless of your industry, the practice of B2B selling is similar.

  1. You need an overarching "one company" value proposition that is more detailed than your brand, but less specific than products 
  2. Your company is organized into product-based silos, but you need to bring a different, integrated, and more consistent experience to customers
  3. You have many different stakeholders involved in a sale - there are "buyers" who give you a hunting license and then "buyers" who drive usage
  4. The challenges sellers have navigated the 'agreement networks' within large companies is easy to explain through experiences (in the readout to executives we performed a 10 min skit to illuminate the challenge) but hard to conceptualize is traditional management consulting readouts, metrics, and charts. 
  5. The solutions to fix these problems are actually simple when you follow design thinking concepts, work collaboratively across organizational silos and focus on the actual experience of customers. However, explaining the approach sounds excessively complicated and far too risky based on managements comfort level with traditional projects.  In addition, because the solution required cutting across so many different organizational functions, identifying an executive sponsor and gaining the funding to even start a pilot program can be challenging. 

The council is still forming and deciding what concepts to share, how to test insights and ideas the group comes up with, and how to publish its findings. Here are things it's agreed to so far.

  • The emerging role of sales enablement is a by-product of the digital transformation of our economy
  • The value of the function is unique compared to other functions - it creates value by eliminating things 
  • The council believes that for sales enablement roles to add value to their businesses, they must be organized as cross-functional groups 
  • The council has embraced a "business within a business" framework to provide the foundation for this new role 
  • The council has also developed a review process to develop insights and then methodically test those ideas within the member organizations

To this end, the membership as adopted the midwest mindset of "show me" when reviewing the various claims, reported data, and various "best practices" advanced by industry experts and management consultants. Our members have engaged virtually all of the management consulting firms, read reports from industry analysts, and are evaluating most of the technologies provided. The group has decided to focus on sharing its experiences with these groups and what results (or problems) they create.

The #1 thing our members have learned is they learn from each other through actual experiences (working on team exercises or case studies) and in the meeting June 17-18 in Atlanta, the council was hosted by Intercontentinal Hotels.  In this meeting, IHG openly shared its business challenges (all council members are under NDA) and other council members broke into groups to provide a readout of findings and recommendations to IHG business leaders. 

 In this session the guys cover:

  • How the Conference Board was founded 106 years ago during a changing economy and how that relates to today's digital economy
  • What exactly IS a council - who is it comprised of, why, how does it work? 
  • How is the idea of 'sales enablement' forming and taking root in large enterprise organizations? 
  • How do you set up a working case study and what was the agenda and format of the meeting?
  • What were some of the lessons learned

Topics include:

- The concept of "stratecution" - how important it is to blend strategy and execution 

- Using a "letter to shareholders" format to sell the vision and promise of sales enablement internally 

- Why creating b2b value propositions is so much more challenging than you think it is 

- How do the concepts of customer loyalty and experience blend with a value proposition 

- Why creating a new tool kit for how to drive programs is so important and what industries can learn from each other 

- The importance of getting many groups together and why overcoming "English to English" translation is such a key to success 

We realize this is a long episode, but it is jam-packed with the collective insights of companies who are driving sales transformation and innovations from within their companies. It will be a while before these ideas crystallize into 'best practices' or programs you can buy off the shelf so this will give you the opportunity to hear what's on the mind of other executives seeking more proactive ways to address the revenue generation challenges facing their businesses. 

Welcome to the Inside Sales Enablement Podcast, Episode #5

Everyone Agrees Sales Training is Important- So why the friction between sales and L&D?

In this episode, Scott Santucci & Brian Lambert discuss the role of people.  Sales Enablement is a people profession and sales enablement leaders are focused on human behavior and skills of sellers (or as CEOs often say "manufacture their reps." The challenge for many "classically trained" L&D professionals lies in balancing the hyper-specialization and needs of the seller with the desired by executives to run as a shared service function. Sometimes the L&D function and people within it aren't often set up to support Sales.

This creates a fundamental question: Why is so much sales training outsourced? Why are sales processes off-limits to the training function? And when sales enablement equals training, why is it considered tactical delivery?

If training organizations aren't comfortable engaging strategically on developing talent, or aren't deemed "valuable" by executives that's a problem. Brian & Scott talks about his journey to tackle this gap and enable the trainers to close the gap to sales teams through research, processes, and outputs. Why terms like ADDIE and rigid L&D approaches don't resonate with other groups including the CEOs view of "training."

Join us at to collaborate with peers, join Insider Nation, participate in the conversation and be part of the continued elevation of the profession.



Scott Santucci, Brian Lambert, Nick Merinkers

Nick Merinkers 00:02

Welcome to the inside sales enablement podcast. Where has the profession been? Where is it now? And where is it heading? What does it mean to you, your company, other functions? The market? Find out here. Join the founding father of the sales enablement profession Scott Santucci and Trailblazer Brian Lambert as they take you behind the scenes of the birth of an industry, the inside sales enablement podcast starts now.

Brian Lambert 00:34

Hi, this is Brian Lambert.

Scott Santucci 00:35

And this is Scott Sam teaching and where the sales enablement insiders. Our podcast is dedicated to helping leaders ask the big questions they should consider in order to be successful with sales enablement. In this podcast, we rethink reframe, revisit the sales enablement function and past ideas and best practices. Around the role to clarify so that you can take action, lead others and ensure success for your company. Today we have another special edition on previous episode our previous episode was well received that was the episode where we did a trip report where Brian was at the sales enablement soiree in Boston. Before I before I asked Brian to frame out our trip report and how we're going to do this, I do want to mention one exciting, exciting input. And I'm gonna ask our listeners to share. So first and foremost, if you haven't reached out to Brian and I send us a send us a note and connect to us on LinkedIn. And I had a great I had a great correspondence with someone from from our show, and she reached out and said, Hey, I love your show. I love how raw it is and I, I said, well, what's going on in your organization, we got to change guiding, and we're exploring an idea of doing a show to put Brian and I on the hook to see whether or not she can give. We can give live feedback on the show, without ever really meeting her to help navigate some of the challenges that she's gotten her SaaS company. So, I'm looking forward to that. What do you think of that, Brian?

Brian Lambert 02:21

I think it's great. And we might want to change the names to protect the innocent sounds. All right.

Scott Santucci 02:26

That's right. That's why I didn't say her name or anything like that. In this episode, normally, I'm the one who frames out frames out the podcast, but this one since I'm the one doing the trip report, and I'm holding back on Brian about what what to share. Brian, why don't you frame us out?

Brian Lambert 02:45

Yeah, sure. So everybody, I left Scott a message and he had shared that he was going to Atlanta to have a big meeting around sales enablement strategy with with some executives, so I called him and said, Hey, you know, I'd like to hear about it. He didn't call me back. So that I finally got him on the phone later that evening. And I said, I'd love to hear about it. And he said, Well, why don't we do it on the show? So I'm just as in the dark as you all are, and we're gonna kind of take a look at what you did. Scott, I'm really intrigued by it. So let me first ask you, it makes sure I understand what it was. And then I'd love to dive into what happened and what the outcomes were.

Scott Santucci 03:24

Does that sound that makes that makes perfect sense and always a good, good level set to start off with what you know.

Brian Lambert 03:31

So you had said, In preparation for this meeting that it was with the Conference Board, and you were, in your role, leading a council of sorts, and you had had success throughout a series of meetings with the Conference Board members and this one was an interesting one, because you're pretty excited about it got me excited about it, because it was doing a deep dive on a specific challenge that one of the members is faced including working together through a day and a half session culminating in some sort of, I believe, executive readout to his executives that would be coming in cold to get the readout. Is that right? Do I have that? Right?

Scott Santucci 04:16

You do have it right. And I think I think what's helpful, at least this, this would be helpful for me is ask a few, you know, get a few questions answered and level set. So, question number one, what is the Conference Board? Question number two, is was the meeting with the Conference Board? Or was the meeting with the council and set this question number three is what the heck is the council anyway? What the heck are they doing? So let me let me go through those three questions. Question number one, what is the Conference Board? So, I'm sharing this with you, I needed to know this information myself. I was recruited by the by the competition. To the Conference Board to start up a sales enablement Council. So, what does that mean? What's the council all that stuff I didn't really know. And this is how I've processed that information. The Conference Board started 106 years ago 106. And how it got got its start was back in the industrial revolution. If you kind of remember your history, their labor and management didn't really get along. And if you're familiar with your European history, it led to lots of revolutions. And the industrialists here didn't think that was good for business. So, what they decided to do was get some labor and some leaders from at&t, and Ge, and you know, some other you know, big companies like that, and they worked out labor challenges, and in this in this meeting in this council that they formed, they created the eight-hour workday, no kidding, the eight-hour workday really engine. It started out with the Conference Board. It's an American invention. You're welcome France. And eight-hour workday was the birth product, the very first result of the Conference Board. So since then, it's gotten companies together. multinational companies together, so it focuses exclusively on big companies to solve complex problems and they form these councils, and these councils are run in a very open way. We follow certain rules that we have but each program director runs this. We are not paid well. It's it's very it's very it's a very part-time part-time job. But that's that's basically what it is. So, you the Conference Board recruits the council's the conference that the member the the program director, in this case, myself sets criteria for what it is that we're looking for, like what kind of type or diversity or you know, things like that. They gather the gather the members together and they start having meetings, and the members are responsible for it. So, in a lot of ways, it's like a homeowner's association. The builder starts it, but then turns it over to the members. And really, my job is to facilitate or set the structure for it. So that's so far what the sales eight what is the Conference Board? And what is the council? Is that clear so far?

Brian Lambert 07:31

Yeah, the only thing I would want you to clarify is, you know, you're talking 106 years old, you know, industrial revolution stuff, and it feels a little stodgy to me, but then we're talking sales enablement. Right. So, tell me a little bit about why they went into it. And, and then as you said, in one of your questions to frame it out, who are some of these people that you're meeting with?

Scott Santucci 07:52

Yeah, so that's a good question. So, the stodgy part is actually really interesting. So, as you probably can imagine, I forgot another element of the Conference Board. The Conference Board also produces a lot of consumer index data. So, if you go if you were to listen on Wall Street and when earnings calls come out, and I talk about consumer confidence and things like that, the Conference Board does all that data also. So, they have a huge amount of economists etc. And it's a nonprofit organization to us. So, it's a very unique, interesting thing. So back to the hundred years. Episode, what the reason that I like that story is 100 years ago, we were going from a we were transforming from an agricultural based way of thinking about how to run business to an industrial revolution. And we had a lot of we had a lot to work out about Management Science and, you know, span of control responsibilities and all those other things. And what's interesting is here we are at the cusp of the digital economy, and we're running into the same kinds of things. So, there are, you know, 80 other councils that focus on things ranging from librarian tactics, literally, to CFO councils

Brian Lambert 09:16

in the Conference Board,

Scott Santucci 09:18

In the Conference Board, right. All of these different little, little councils. And what happened was they started getting demand for, hey, what's the sales enablement stuff? We don't we as big companies hear about it a lot. We're really unclear what that looks like. Let's set up a council for it. So, what we did is, uh, you know, I, I was recruited for it, you know, that I'm pretty well known and guess in the space. And I said, I'd love to do that. That's right up my alley, and we recruited people for it. So basically, I used a maturity model at that time. Assume three different phases like Phase One is, are you in a reactive state? phase two, are you in a manage state? And phase three? Are you in adaptive state? And I had other criteria for it. We can talk about maturity models later, we recruited people in stage two that wanted to get to stage three.

Brian Lambert 10:17

Okay, so you targeted that specific Lee. And so, one, that implies that there are people in a managed state, which I'm glad to hear, without a counsel and you wouldn't have a meeting. So that's a win. Yep, the profession. But before we go too much further, Scott, you know, some of our loyal listeners that have known this a long time might say something like, Hey, you guys, you know, at Forrester, you had a council too. So, are you are you just retreading the old Council and well, you know, redoing everything over again? And you know, are you guys going to advance this or what? What would you say to that?

Scott Santucci 10:54

Well, I would say that the economics is just everything. This is different. So, Forester, I think the fee to participate in the council was, you know, between 50 and $75,000 a year. And with that, you know, myself, you our team, we are we produced research also and had these had these council meetings and had, you know, had outputs. At the Conference Board. There are very lightweight deliverables. The fee is much, much, much less between $10,000 and $15,000, depending upon you know how many services the company has under

Brian Lambert 11:42

If people mention your name, do they get a discount?

Scott Santucci 11:47

I had to get invited first.

Brian Lambert 11:49

Oh, it's invitation only

Scott Santucci 11:50

it is invitation only? That's correct. So, you have to you have to invite and you got to go to the you can go to the website and apply and you know, the app application process happens and I'm not part of that. I just get on the phone after they go through the...