Artwork for podcast Inside: Sales Enablement
Ep26 From Training to Talent Enablement
Episode 2610th March 2020 • Inside: Sales Enablement • Scott Santucci, Brian Lambert, Erich Starrett
00:00:00 00:51:24

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Welcome to the Inside Sales Enablement Podcast, Episode 26

What type of sales talent does your leadership team need, and what's your role in helping them acquire, develop, and improve those people?

  1. Respond to demand
  2. Generate demand

What do customers think?

In this podcast, Scott Santucci and Brian Lambert provide a foundation helps you answer questions like:

  • How do you on-board salespeople when they all come from so many different perspectives
  • How do you get agreement from sales managers on what they are supposed to do
  • What’s the turnover rate of the sales force and are you using your top talent instead of bottom performers and how would you know
  • When designing a development strategy, who do you listen to? Product, product marketing, sales leaders? Sales reps? Who gives inputs on the curriculum?
  • How would you measure the impact of on-boarding programs across so many different teams?

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


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.

Scott Santucci 00:34

Hi, I'm Scott Santucci

Brian Lambert 00:36

And I'm Brian Lambert, we are the sales enablement insiders. Our podcast is for sales enablement. Leaders looking to elevate their function, expand their sphere of influence, and increase the span of control within their companies.

Scott Santucci 00:48

Together, Brian and I have worked on over 100 different kinds of sales enablement initiatives as analysts, consultants, or practitioners. We've learned the hard way of what works and maybe what's most important, what doesn't.

Brian Lambert 01:03

That's right, Scott. And we've had a lot of feedback since our last podcast, which was on the flavors of sales enablement. So much so that we've actually decided to deep dive. And today we're going to talk about one of those flavors in the talent flavor. So, Scott, let's walk through what we've been talking about what we've been seeing as we've engaged with our our customers and clients.

Scott Santucci 01:26

Sure. So, to frame this out as if, if you're joining us, fresh and new on our podcast, welcome to insider nation, by the way that we frame this out is that sales enablement as it is a really giant topic, especially depending upon how you look at it. If you look at sales being the revenue of your company, and enablement is how you get more of it. Obviously, the scope can be very, very huge. And that's what we're seeing is we're seeing a lot of these different pockets and a lot of you know the most successful Strategic functions are emerging at intersection points between the sales organization and other organizations. So, for example, we I, we talked about the message, the message flavor, which is at the intersection point between marketing and sales, or the engagement, flavor, which is the intersection between marketing sales, business units and finance. It's a huge quagmire. And we also talked about the administrative or administer flavor, which is really at the intersection point between sales and, you know, the administration support team. So that might be if you have one administrative function that would that would include your legal it might include some sales operations, particularly revenue recognition parts and your IT department. But that would be that what that would focus on but what we're zooming in on is that intersection point between the human resource functions, which are typically responsible for training, culture learning and development, hiring, and the sales organization, which is starting to also pick up its own version of training and onboarding and participates in hiring. And as you could probably imagine, there's a lot of friction points between those two groups. And that's what we're going to be concentrating on.

Brian Lambert 03:24

Yeah, especially with all the digital transformation that's happening, the scope and change that's happening within the talent space, as it evolves, you know, skills need to become higher. The conversations that people need to be having need to be different. And I think this is a great topic for today. Because of those, those challenges that we're seeing.

Scott Santucci 03:47

Yeah, and to pick that back up, to pick up on that thread. One of the things that we're asking people to do is take a step back, and sometimes you can't See the forest through the trees if you're actually looking at the boss, right? And that's really where where we think a lot of people are today is that they're so focused on very specific details about it maybe do we have the exactly the right training curriculum? How many fields can we put in, in terms of our hiring specs? That maybe we've lost sight about where things are going. So, if you boil this back up and just use this podcast as an option to take a step back, one of the ways that we like to look at this as talent, why do you have a Salesforce in the first place?

Brian Lambert 04:41

Oh, that's way back. But I love that question. And, you know, when you and I started talking years ago, you would ask me questions like that, and I would laugh them off. But the more the more I thought about, I'm like, dang, that's a really good question. So why do we have a Salesforce, Scott, what's your thought on that?

Scott Santucci 05:00

Well, the simple answer is because customers still demand it. But I think where we are today is to have this idea that you have a one size fits all monolithic, Salesforce is just, it's just barbaric as barbaric thinking.

Brian Lambert 05:15

Well, but aren't 58% of all decisions made before before anybody ever talked to a customer?

Scott Santucci 05:21

Yeah, just like 58% of the decisions that I make when I go to a grocery store already made for me, right? Uhm it that those those metrics are good sort of talking points, but you can't ever know for sure. And it's kind of ridiculous to think that way. But let's talk a little bit more simply. Right? If if we have a Salesforce because customers demand it. Well, what kinds of customers are there? We don't, we don't want to make this about how do you segment your customers that would be a completely different topic. But let's just talk very specifically here. You have a Salesforce to Respond to demand, aka your markets blowing up, you have a lot of competitors, what you're doing and what you're selling is maybe not that differentiated from everybody else, and you're in a highly competitive landscape. That's scenario one. Or Scenario number two, is you're bringing differentiation or you're bringing innovation to your customers. And you have to go actually create demand. And this podcast is for the businesses who are investing in a Salesforce in the ladder. How do we create demand? And it's very difficult because, you know, let's say in the last 10 years, we've had a massive expansion, you know, since the, you know, the deep dark economic burden that we've had, we've had a pretty good recovery. And over that recovery, recovery period, we've had a lot of, you know, growth, but now where we're at today is that growth is it's a lot harder to want to Talking about the sales forces better designed to create demand with our customers.

Brian Lambert 07:07

Yeah, especially, as you're pointing out, you know, innovation is just exploded, you know, moving into platforms, cloud, Ai, automation, you know, every industry is transforming and salespeople, much like they had to do in the 1890s have to bring those innovate individual innovations to customers. And I like that concept for those that are generating demand. So, let's talk about that. What are we seeing? What are you seeing?

Scott Santucci 07:38

Yeah, so I think that's a really great way to think of it right. So, you have, you know, all those different trends. And you have businesses that, you know, is GE now a digital company, they certainly have tried to advertise that a lot. So, a lot of a lot of businesses are trying to shift and what what that requires Is your salespeople to go and actually educate your customers? So, when we think about education, that means you're selling ahead of a RFP, or you're selling ahead of a budgeting cycle. So, who is it that we're actually Who are those customers? So, let's zoom in a little bit more and talk about why you have a Salesforce. We have had the opportunity to either to survey and then interview hundreds of buying executives. So, the first thing is, who actually is the customer that we're designing our Salesforce by? Because the sales force exists to support customers. We've already isolated that the type of sales force that we're talking about other sales forces designed to create demand. So, who are those customers that we're after? And then if they're there to support customers, what is it that they expect? What do customers think makes a great salesperson?

Brian Lambert 08:58

Yeah, because that answer should determine the type of talent that you're bringing on and how you're supporting them. Right? That's the, that's the punch line is, if we understand that, then we could talk about the talent pillar.

Scott Santucci 09:14

Yes. It was like, what is the design point for all of the talent, not just who you're hiring, it's, how you're training them how they're developing, etc. So, here's the spec, right? The spec is we asked those executive buyers to tell us what makes a good Rep. And here is their definition. This is not our definition. This is not, you know, your definition from other sales forces. This is the definition of executive level buyers. All right.

Brian Lambert 09:45

I'm going to give the drumroll Yep. There you go. big reveal.

Scott Santucci 09:49

Okay. The salesperson shows they understand my business issues and can clearly articulate to me how to solve them.

Brian Lambert 10:01

That's the definition of executive buyers of what a good rep looks like they guess right? Those reps understand my business issues. And they, they articulate to me how to solve those issues.

Scott Santucci 10:12

Now, what's interesting is if you talk to a lot of people who are students of sales and said, they're gonna say, Well, no, bleep, right? No kidding. What's new about this? And really the issue is not a lot to know about that. If you're going to help somebody, think differently and drive change, you must understand their business, you must understand their challenges. And you must be able to articulate those or else there's no basis to change. What makes this difficult and unique is how complex those business issues are, and how hard it is to articulate them because they cut across multiple silos. So, the next question, we asked those executive buyers, is how often does your interaction with a typical salesperson lead to that criteria? So, in other words, how often do say do the conversations that they have with different reps meet that spec? What do you think that, that I'm gonna ask you, the leaders Brian knows what the number is gonna ask him?

Brian Lambert 11:28

Do the drumroll though.

Scott Santucci 11:28

Right. But before I share what the what the date is, think to yourself, what percentage of executive buyers find their interactions with sellers valuable? Is it 80%? Is it 50%? What's the number? Well, the number we have is it's 11%. So said differently, 90% of the interactions that they have with sellers is not valuable.

Brian Lambert 11:59

Yeah, this I've got a bit of a story on this. I've since 2002. I've traveled all over the world. And I asked a simple question. When I'm on the mainstage. I asked, I say, Hey, you know, I've got, I've got 500 US dollars right here, who can come up here and talk about their customer. And I always get a ton of people that want to come up when I bring up the salesperson who volunteers, which is great. I say okay, the only caveat to that is you cannot talk about your company, your product or yourself, you have to talk to minutes about your customer go. And to date since 2002, I have not been able to find a single salesperson who can do that yet. I haven't found a representation of of the 11%. And and I would challenge you as listeners, I would challenge you to try that same same thing. Go ask your salespeople to do that. And also, you tried to the world of the buyer has definitely evolved.

Scott Santucci 12:59

So, I think that's a great segue into we, here are some exact quotes. These are exact quotes from executive buyers, executive executive decision makers about why is it that so few of the reps add value. Here are some direct quotes five direct quotes because they don't do their homework. They can't think outside of their product. They're unable to provide any knowledgeable answers to queries raised. They don't understand how they fit into our company. They're focused totally on closing a sale. They don't understand the issues or problems I'm trying to solve. These are all direct quotes of executive buyers to describe why so few add value. Brandon comments on that

Brian Lambert 14:00

Yeah, it's been interesting. I've actually been on the buyer side as in a fortune 500 company and this exact challenge came across my desk. I had, you know, probably 100 salespeople reach out to me, I took one, I took one call because of those those issues. If somebody and it's interesting, right, as, as somebody on the buy side, I didn't need them to articulate my challenges fully and become a, you know, Zen master at them. I was just looking for somebody to kind of meet me, not even in the middle. I mean, I guess at the 11% mark, if somebody can do just 11% did it, I would have taken a call. That's actually who I took the call with. So, they didn't have to be perfect either.

Scott Santucci 14:44

So, to add more color on that, so what we're what we're making a case is how case of what is the current state if the all of the talent investments that we're making across the company, whether it be in human resources or in the Salesforce All these things are happening, what type of rep are we producing out there in the industry? So, the next question is, how prepared are the reps? So, through the lens of an executive level buyer, here's some real data. These executive buyers believe that 62% of the sellers are knowledgeable about their company and products. 24% said, the salespeople were knowledgeable about my specific business. 23% said that those salespeople can relate to my role and responsibility in the organization. 22% said those salespeople can understand my issues and where they can help. 21% said those salespeople had relevant examples or case studies to share with me.

Brian Lambert 15:58

Yeah, that's interesting. So, in the 20% is knowledge about my business, my role responsibilities, my issues where they can help. And then and then this idea of providing examples or case studies, those are all 20%, which is a big, you know, big F, the highest is 62%. That's still a B, in most, most organizations. And that's an idea they're knowledgeable about their company and their products. And that's the, that's the most prepared that they are. That's so interesting.

Scott Santucci 16:25

And what's also interesting about that is if you were to break down and look abstractly, or you know, very high level, but force through cheese, and categorized content, or specifications, of what you're hiring people to onboarding people to do, coaching them to do, or developing them to do train them to do. The overwhelming majority of the amount of information that we're asking our salespeople to do behave is about us. It's about our products, it's about our products and services, etc. which is great if demand already exists. But it doesn't help to create demand. In order to create demand, you have to understand a company's business. Simple as that. You have to understand how that company makes money, or loses money, or what risks it factors in yet 24%. Only 24% of sellers can do that. If you're going to persuade somebody, a company in upon itself doesn't buy things a human being does. Somebody has to have the intestinal fortitude to drive change in a complex environment. So, if you can't relate to that individual's role and responsibility in the organization, how in the world are you going to empathize with them about all the risk factors? The next point then would be understand their issues of where to help if you can't understand their business challenges? How is it possible that salesperson could add any value and then if you don't have any examples of how you've helped solve that problem, specifically, what are you going to talk about? Right?

Brian Lambert 18:08

In that, you know, just to tie it back again, we're unpacking the spec here of which to drive the talent pillar. And I think it's really good to pause. And we've really spent 10 minutes on this. But you know, look at the contrast that we're painting here about, remember, I remember that one time, Scott, you and I worked on that project, and we audited the new hire training, and it was like 5% of new hire was about customers, and the company couldn't believe it. And then they looked at it. They're like, Oh, you know what, holy cow. You're right. Wow.

Scott Santucci 18:43

Exactly. The whole point was, there were so many different people involved in that onboarding program, that everybody assumed that somebody was doing the basics and it took an audit of the content to say, oh my gosh, we're not even all of the material that we're providing is all about us all about our products, because that's the muscle memory that we've gotten into. So, here's some good news. So, some good news is we also asked those executives, because in this interview process and this discovery process, you start to learn Hmm, this is painting a pretty bleak picture. But these executives didn't see it that way. Because the salespeople that actually do meet the criteria, add a lot of value. And as as a matter of fact, they offer so much value that they differentiate their vendor from all the competition. So, here's some here's some proof on that. We asked those executives to tell us what an open-ended question what most differentiates a vendor or supplier from their competition and the specific question asked to those executives. The top two answers were number one, the ability to match relevant capabilities to specific problems and to being prepared on my business, my role, and what is...