Artwork for podcast Inside: Sales Enablement
Ep35 State of SE Panel 3: Sales Enablement Leaders
Episode 354th May 2020 • Inside: Sales Enablement • Scott Santucci, Brian Lambert, Erich Starrett
00:00:00 01:05:35

Share Episode


Welcome to the Inside Sales Enablement Podcast, Episode 35

Continuing the ground-breaking series on the State of Sales Enablement, the guys bring industry trailblazers together to discuss the survey data and open-ended responses from over 100+ respondents.

This is the 3rd panel discussion, and it's incredibly insightful. The panel discusses three critical questions:

  1. Having looked at the survey findings, what are a few things that stood out for you?
  2. What was your favorite question, and why?  
  3. What do you see as the future of sales enablement from here?

The panel podcasts guests are:

  1. Sheevaun Thatcher, CPC, Head of Sales and Global Enablement, RingCentral
  2. Imogen McCourt, Sales Enablement Leader & Advocate
  3. Doug Clower, Head of Enablement, MicroFocus

To view the research method, visit

Join us at to let us know what you think, collaborate with peers and sign up to be notified of new releases, updates, and news.


Intro 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  

I'm Scott Santucci.

Brian Lambert 00:36  

I'm Brian Lambert and we are the sales enablement insiders.

Scott Santucci 00:40  

Hello insider nation, we're excited to bring you yet another star-studded panel. This time it's of your peers and part of our continuing state of sales enablement project. We hear it inside sales enablement are dedicated to making sure our listeners are successful. Overcoming the complexities in their own companies so that they compete more effectively in the market.

There are many names used to describe what I just said. We've been calling it sales enablement for the last 12 years COVID was a wake up call for Brian and I and hopefully it was for all of the rest of you and inside our nation. And we answered that call first by launching an amazing, absolutely amazing if you haven't had a chance to listen to you need to listen to it, our covert panel which we broke down into five parts because it was so rich on that we had Dr. Howard Dover from the University of Texas Dallas, we had Kanaan metha, who was a partner at TCP private equity, and Lindsey Gore, one of the top reps at at Microsoft and we had her on to keep us honest. So you know, so we won't go veer off into theoretical land. Something can all share with us in part two, you should go listen to that episode really caught our attention. He was talking about the growing gap between What investors want to see and how poorly the sum of the parts in the commercial process sales and marketing are, and that this alignment or this connective tissue isn't happening, cannot mention that that was the responsibility of sales enablement. And they don't see it anywhere happening in any of their portfolio companies.

So that was a big wake up call. And I thought, geez, we need to investigate that further. So we launched a survey to get the feedback from sales enablement practitioners, and we challenged you inside our nation to help us out. We thought, Hey, we're going to ask open ended questions, we're going to get a lot of subjective feedback, so that we can piece together what's really happening. We thought that if we got 25 responses that would be enough or suitable to give us a really good perspective. So we challenged you guys, and we said, Hey, if we want to get 25 we need to set our quota. Like I guess, your companies do two years, your salespeople at 50. So, okay, we're going to go out and get 50 How did you respond insider nation? Did you give us 30? Did you give us 50? No, in one week time you gave the 70 responses. 70. That's incredible. So thank you so much. We're very grateful for your participation. But that creates a different kind of problem. It's a high quality problem, but a problem nonetheless. How do you analyze open ended feedback from 70 people who all are incredibly thoughtful the responses were really, really thoughtful. So the other thing too is when you look at that information, I don't want to insert my bias. So all of us have bias. We have a fake news problem in business too. So please side note, if you if you take any study and use the quote, statistics, please, please, please read the methodology that they followed, please. There is so much fake news out there. It's it's really distracting.

But I digress. One of the things that we wanted to do is make sure that we don't have enough bias that we put onto it. So we've highlighted and recruited over 30 thought leader experts like the people that we have here to help us figure it out. As part of that program, we want to be able to give you insights or, or a glimpse at how this information is being combined. So we're running these panels, our first panel, we had sales enablement experts, so I'm sure you're know if you've been in the space, Tamra shank, Mike conkel and Josie mashburn. We had a fantastic panel there. We just put out our second one was with sales leaders. So if you know skip Miller, so it's great that you know cheban mentioned that skip Miller's a client is fantastic. At skip Miller, Steve Kaprow, and we also had Bob Apollo.

So we just completed that and now we're pulling up and having perspective from practitioners, practitioners. All of this is leading forward, Mark your calendar. For may 19, go visit inside se calm to register, because on May 19, we're producing a findings presentation for where all of this sits. So now let's kick off our panel. I'm really excited. So this is a panel of people that I've known for quite a long time. We have, I'm going to introduce, I'm going to introduce them first and have them introduce themselves to you. The first person is Doug Clower. Doug, as Doug, I met through inquiries, I think our first time that we actually met was at when you were at net IQ, and we were doing a briefing of the executive buyer research that we've done. When we were at Forrester, he's worked at Novell net IQ, and most recently at at microfocus. Doug has been pretty heavily involved in I would say a little bit more focus on the content side of things rather than the rest. In the training side of things, and I'm very excited to have Doug participating with us, Doug, would you care to introduce yourself to inside our nation?

Doug Clower 06:07  

Yes, thanks. Thanks for that Scott, Doug Clower, obviously, I've been around sales enablement for a long time, I have a rather unique background, I did not come to sales enablement in high tech, through what some people might think is the normal business channel I grew up or my degrees in architecture. So I practice architecture for 15 years before I moved over to technology. I'm passionate really about enabling a Salesforce to make a difference with customers because ultimately, what we're trying to do in the sales enablement field is help our sales people solve problems that our customers have. That's really the approach I take.

Scott Santucci 06:44  

Excellent. So that's Doug. Next up is Shivan Thatcher. So Shivan and I met I don't even know exactly when maybe it was at, maybe it was at that first conference Shivan but we met at Forrester and I think Just had many, many interactions in sessions, whether whether it be through an analyst or the like, she also was at the very first, the founding meetings. So when the sales enablement society was forming, Jim nanavati, and I did a I don't know what it was right, a workshop, I guess a group therapy session, whatever that was, we had a meeting of about 80,000 plus in, in some hotel, in out in California, and Shivam was there, you know, right then and there. That was when the the chapter the San Francisco chapter was born. So Shivan has been very heavily involved in helping get this profession off the ground for quite some time. As you know, she's a she's a leader out there in the sales enablement society and in the community. So I'm incredibly incredibly honored to have Shivan join us, Shivan. Introduce yourself to the few people who don't know you yet.

Sheevaun Thatcher 07:58  

Hi, Shivan Thatcher yeah, I do definitely have a passion and a purpose around sales enablement. I did come up the more traditional business way I came up through sales than pre sales, then over to the enablement side of it. And so it was, it was a, it was a great path for me. And it was the right way to go. Scott, you and I met at the very first forester conference, and you asked how many people in the room have the title of enablement. And there are about 100 people in the room and four of us stood up. I mean, and that's how long ago that was. And then yeah, in out in Palm Desert, Palm Beach, Palm Beach, wherever we were, and then here in the Bay Area, so it's been, I've seen the growth like you from virtually nothing to now there are 10,000 15,000 people that can really, really say that their true sales enablement folks.

Scott Santucci 08:51  

Yeah, it's been a long journey, huh? Yeah. Great one though. Great, very exciting. And then, last but not least, we have Imogen McCourt. Imogen McCourt and I met while at Forrester so bear with me this can be a little bit complicated. But this is all true. This is how things work out in real life, right? It's not, it's not that linear. So Imogen had this gigantic and I'm being sarcastic department at Forrester helping the Forrester sales reps with sales enablement. At the same time we'd launched the sales enablement practice for Forrester to provide research to to clients.

So I guess it's almost like we didn't want to be the cobblers son that had no shoes right imagine and so image and work with I mentioned skip Miller so skip Miller was somebody that Imogen and Greg hired to help help our help the Salesforce. And so this is sort of the weird triangle of skip, and Imogen and Scott. So and then we also invited image into participate, and she was a client of our sales enablement Leadership Council that was for clients. Okay, did that make any sense image and introduce yourself inside our nation? Oh I forgot oh my gosh, I forgot another thing. imaging also was at that founding meeting to kick off that was a great meeting by the way it for London side note the London meeting started out at the wrong address remember that people had to go find the right address but still 45 people showed up it was incredible imaging did I get anything right can you help me make make me not sound insane?

Imogen McCourt 10:32  

Yeah, so I think he's got an image in the court and it was complicated. And I been forced to for some time, and they were sort of broad an interesting history a bit of that the best bit was obviously getting himself open at the same time as you were there building the practice out. And just to add extra complexity. Fourth also decided to do global sales transformation and different go to market approach at the same time. So I landed this global role, skeleton skull skeleton skull skeleton skull off. And of course, Scott Miller coming in to support us and then have to support sales organization to that transformation and try and be the best I could possibly be Scott to live up to the very high standards that even the team were were giving. So thank goodness you were all around to support me through that process. And you know that pedaling in the deep end piece really helps, right? You really learn at speed when you go through that sort of process quickly. And, and it's been fantastic to be able to continue to do that. And, and to do that in Europe. And I know we're going to talk about this later. But I think the the environment in Europe is different to the will not experience. It's working in it for Forrester leading things from the US.

Scott Santucci 11:42  

Yeah, so I like that pedaling in the deep end. And I think that's why you have to have people getting your back, right because a lot of this stuff is you just have to have people that are supported that you can talk through it. And also it doesn't help or doesn't hurt to have to kill it. Right. Imagine Okay, so with that, having said that, we're now going to go to the meat of our show. So the meat of our show if you've been following along, this is our third panel. And we have three standard questions. So the first question, and again, just to set our audience's expectations, every single one of these analysts has had the opportunity to look at the 70 responses, open ended responses. And by the way, that's not a not an easy task. It's not just data. It's a lot of open ended feedback. So it takes some work to do the analysis. I've interviewed each of them too. So we've had a chance to talk about it. So question number one, and I'm going to ask you, Doug, having looked at the survey findings, what are a few things that stood out for you?

Doug Clower 12:49  

Well, Scott, I thought it was really interesting. The paradox between strategy that different individuals were taking and their titles. So I saw a lot of titles associated with what we would consider a sales enablement leader, you know, the those people that were leading the department doing their thing. And they were approaching sales enablement as an operational excellence kind of approach, which seems and and it's sort of an inference on my part, it seems a little bit more like it's a tactical execution as opposed to the innovation answer to that particular question, the business strategy question. Because what I think in sales enablement we have to do especially as you underline the idea of COVID-19. We have really got to be more innovative, we have to be thinking on our feet more what I would call startup or, you know, a very nimble organization being able to respond to the circumstances that our Salesforce is facing on a daily basis, and the environment that we're working in whatever it happens to be. So I guess if I looked at it, those were, there was a bit of a discussion. between what I thought a sales enablement leader should be thinking about what their priorities were, or their strategy was and what their actual strategy was.

Scott Santucci 14:09  

Excellent. Thank you, Doug shavon. How about you? What were some some of your reactions?

Sheevaun Thatcher 14:16  

I would echo what Doug said. But I think the other thing that I did find gratifying was that the majority of the folks do in fact believe in are bullish on sales enablement and believe it's on the rise. There's been a lot of buzz going around that I've heard a lot of negative around enablement for the last few months. It's It's interesting, I haven't heard it before then that enablement is not working. And I get a sense, especially looking at some of the answers of the folks that don't think it's working, that a lot of that just has to do with tactical versus strategy, the same thing Doug said that if you take much more of a strategic corporate view of it, and how do you actually help move the business forward, as opposed to how do I make sure I've got these courses running? It's just I think It's just a vision that folks have on what, what enablement can be that they've restricted themselves. And when you restrict themselves, then you don't give yourself the you don't give yourself the runway to do what needs to be done.

Scott Santucci 15:12  

Awesome. Imogen. 

Imogen McCourt 15:15  

Yeah, I mean, as you might suspect, I echo what both Doug and Sharon say. But I also think that, for me, it was always gratifying to see people talking about the fact that they see sales movement on the rise because of the complexity of doing business nowadays. It's like we've always been, you know, I think you coined the phrase, the VP of broken things we've always been that person brought in to fix things that weren't aligned to what working. And it really seemed to echo in the people who thought we were on the rise. It sounds like it was really getting more focus that it was because there's so much out there that needs to be sorted out. And we can't do that tactically one bit at a time because it's too complex. We have to go simple and we have to think strategically so people can see the big picture of how sales movement really impacts a company's ability. To drive and grow profitably.

Scott Santucci 16:03  

So, Doug, how do you respond? What What did you What are your takeaways from what you heard from Shivan and Imogen?

Doug Clower 16:10  

Well, you know, the the one thing that Shivan talked about was, you know, enablement is broken. And I think what happens is we get these little courses, things aren't quite working the way they should be. Sales isn't quite hitting a number or something's happening here. Or in some respects, maybe it's marketing that is, is failing to see that what their message is, is a little different than what the salespersons messages because it's a broad story as opposed to a focused story to the customer. And so when I echo the fact that we hear a lot of sales enablement is broken when it's not really sales enablement, it's a matter of somebody thinks what they have to say is more important than what sales enablement is doing. To that to that extent. Now, that's just a little bit of a, you know, takeaway on that. But it's really important for us to make sure that everybody understands it's a collaborative effort. nobody's saying marketing's doing the wrong thing or sales doing the wrong thing. It's here's the things we should be doing differently because of what our message happens to be. So I would echo what Siobhan said.

Scott Santucci 17:24  

On would you get away from a get from dugin imaging.

Sheevaun Thatcher 17:30  

We're all we're all pretty much saying the same thing, I think is that, you know, enablement does work when everybody is looking in the same direction. I think the the dis the disconnect between marketing and sales is the fact that each believes that they're doing a better job than the other to get the customers attention where in fact, we're all trying to do the same thing, which is to help our customers buy from us and it's getting folks to put to put that That that silo ism, newer silo ism aside and say that together if you work together on this sales and marketing, in fact, I see enablement, doing that a lot is bringing those two sides together to say there is a quid pro quo, right marketing, you give sales content in the way that they can use it and sales, you make sure as marketing and good marketing back adoption, and rock and roll. Right. So it's it's everybody's trying to do the right thing. And it's giving them the opportunity to do the right thing through conversation and training. Right, you can teach each other.

Scott Santucci 18:34  

I like that image at all. Yeah,

Doug Clower 18:35  

I like that to that. That's really good. We teach each other. That's the collaborative nature of what we're trying to do with sales...