Welcome to the Inside Sales Enablement Podcast, Episode 20
Since starting the podcast, the guys have received a lot of feedback from listeners who've built more advanced functions. These listeners have one thing in common... they all are using the "old Forrester sales enablement" definition Scott authored in 2008 and peer-reviewed by Brian and published for Forrester clients in 2010.
In 2017, acting as the President of the Sales Enablement Society, Scott sponsored work by enablement professionals to bring together: analysts, academics, practitioners, and vendors to create a common definition that was published and shared at the first annual sales enablement society conference.
Yet, here we are in 2019 and Forrester has not only a new definition of what sales enablement is - but also Sirius Decisions' definition to rationalize. Gartner is talking about "buyer enablement" and "sense-making" while CSO insights have narrowed the focus to be about enabling the sales force. Meanwhile, marketing has moved into their own versions of helping "sales" by advocating: content marketing, account-based marketing, and growth marketing.
The guys think this has gotten out of hand and have decided to become far more definitive. In this episode the guys:
1) Highlight the key enabler that propelled accounting into the finance department and the rise of the CFO
2) Contrast the similarities between finance and the sales enablement space
3) Outline the drivers that exist in the economy that point to a huge gap between strategy and execution
4) Discuss the purpose of sales enablement is to bridge that gap
5) Observe the only way to solve that problem is to do it cross-functionally
6) Review the basic pillars of what should be in the scope of a department tackling the strategy/execution gap
Join us at https://www.OrchestrateSales.com/podcast/ to let us know what you think, collaborate with peers and sign up to be notified of new releases, updates, and news.
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
I'm Scott Santucci.
Brian Lambert 00:35
I'm Brian Lambert and we are our 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 00:47
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, underlined the hard way, what works and what doesn't.
Brian Lambert 01:01
Our podcast is different. We use a conversational format to help share the experiences that only people who've been there and done that can provide, as we've been pushing the envelope on the profession for over a decade. And today on this show, we're going to discuss sales enablement defined. And as usual, we're going to start with a centering story to give our episode a theme. Scott, take it away.
Scott Santucci 01:27
Thank you, Brian. And I think you're gonna like this, Brian. This is a very, very modern story for some of the stories that we've been talking about.
Brian Lambert 01:34
Oh, really? Yeah. Move up. Do we move up a different century yet?
Scott Santucci 01:40
This story starts in 1933. Oh, wow. Yes.
Brian Lambert 01:46
We moved out of the 18 hundreds nice.
Scott Santucci 01:48
Yes, how about that for modernization in 1933. The United States Congress passed the Securities Act. And what I'd like you to do is go back in the wave wayback machine and have some context. This is the time of the Great Depression. If you remember what happened, one of the starting points of the Great Depression was the stock market decline of 1929. And one of the things that was happening is that those stocks that people were buying weren't really regulated. So, you didn't really know whether the information was accurate or not. So, the 1933 Securities Act put down a an established the SEC, the securities exchange commission, which also empowered them to audit and oversee and even send people to jail for fraud on the stock market. So that's what led to it. The next thing that happened in 1939 General Accounting Principles started so basically we're generally accounting principles are is that the rules of which you organize or store finance data that gets logged into your business report, the business reporting, the financial reports, the the balance sheet, the income statement, all of those things started back in 19 standard got standardized back in 1933, with this sec act, but then the rules to make sure that you follow them and standardize all that that started in 1939. So, to bring that all to fruition today, in were 1939. The idea of a chief financial officer was not very common. Today, the idea of a chief financial officer is almost it's it's almost, you can't even separate the idea of not having them. So, one of the things that has led to the powerful rise of a CFO, is they actually have this, this construct this these rules to follow more or less like a lingua franca, and if it weren't for that, it'd be hard to say that The CFO wouldn't have evolved, because that role was just a bookkeeping function.
Brian Lambert 04:06
Yeah, that's a good point on the history of that evolution to think from bookkeeper to CFO, but, again, oh, what the heck does that have to do with sales enablement?
Scott Santucci 04:20
So, insider nation, I hope we hope you're getting the gist that we always have some sort of weird or interesting plugin. And the reason that this matters, is because you've heard Brian and I talk a lot about a charter. You've heard us talking about that. But you don't have a core foundation to stand on. It's really hard to elevate your role. And that's really what we're what we're talking about here is we there are a lot of discussions about definitions and wire defining things. Our lens when we set out to defining sales enablement was really more foundational. It's not does it sound the right way because I get it, I can guarantee you if you go and read the SEC definition of what revenue is, it's not a good read. It's not simple or elegant or beautiful or accessible or explains what an accountants job does. It's a very utility or utilitarian definition, to set a foundation to provide standards.
Brian Lambert 05:25
It's hard to blog that I'm sure to that deposition.
Scott Santucci 05:29
It is a tough blog, began it because it's an incredibly tough read. But the reason that that exists that way is because it must be precise. So that's really the the essence of how we started about defining sales enablement, when we when we were at Forrester, and the foundation for everything that we worked on, was that definition and it has a lot of principles behind it with the idea of building as a foundation to build a function of up on top of it.
Brian Lambert 05:57
Yeah, and I remember you know, you can say that the key here is to get it right. And we're going to talk about how we did it. And yes, we're going to go over that definition on here. But, you know, I need to, I feel like right now, this is a bit of a, let me challenge you on this, right? Like one, we said we weren't gonna necessarily redefine it. And on the show, and two, we've said, Listen, it's not about a definitional debate. We're not going to engage in that. And now now here we are, right. So, um, and the reason why I wanted to bring that up is it's interesting to me that over the course of the last two conferences that I was at that that's the definition that we put together in 2008 has shown up on you know, the mainstage screen and you know, even even your name is enforced or have been used as this is the definition that I like, etc. But why why are we on this podcast doing this? Why do you think it's important to restate when we've already stated 10 years ago?
Scott Santucci 07:01
Well, I think there's a bunch of reasons why there are many definitions out there. It's very confusing. And the reason that we're doing it for insider nation it's it's actually kind of interesting. Brian, you and I started this podcast because we saw a big giant hole in sales enablement conversations for more so from a more strategic lens, and as we started this, more people have been reaching out and a lot of people have been reaching out saying, Hey, you know, I'm glad you guys are doing this. I've been really leveraging that old sales enablement definition. And I was actually in Chicago at a meeting and the executive team had this definition and they had it had it written up. We haven't built on this thing in a long time. And the company that owned it had owned this intellectual property has now quote, discarded it and replacement of another one that's made to be more better sounding or, you know, more well written, Uh huh. But really the goal here is it's not an issue to debate definitions. And it's it's a, it's a conversation to say, we tried to lay foundations with this. And we want to talk about those foundations, because those foundations are what separate most of the people who are running sales enablement as units of one. And the sales enablement leaders who have strategic departments. So, what we thought we would do is say it just as if you are interested in promoting and elevating your role. Let's follow the game plan that accounting went through to become CFOs. They had a foundation that they built from, so we wanted to talk we wanted to lay that foundation. We think that's relevant here for inside sales enablement and insider nation.
Brian Lambert 08:57
Yeah, and let me let me stay obvious You know, we're sticking to the definition that we wrote in 2008. You know, we're not changing it, we're not redefining it, we're sticking with it. And we think it's even more relevant today than it was back then. And we're going to state it again. And here we go. You know, let's talk about why we did it, how we went about it, what the actual definition is and who it's for. So, let's start with why why we defined it.
Scott Santucci 09:24
Alright, so why do we Why do we find it? So, the first the first lens is, we made an observation that there is a gap between the go to market strategy or even the business strategy of a company and how it executes. So that was the observation that we laid. Then when we looked at that when we looked at an examine that business problem, what did we do is based on that, based on that gap, we tried to define what should be in the middle there to bridge that gap. And that's really where we came up with the idea of sales enablement. The idea being go to market is about interacting with customers. We were thinking about sales, aka meaning revenue or bookings, not sales, the Salesforce and enablement is to make sure we're enabling the execution of that strategy and profitable growth. That was the lens that we had. So that's why we created it and we didn't see any work in that space. And we, you know, frankly, Brian, and I still haven't been seen any work in that space.
Brian Lambert 10:33
Yeah. And also, to piggyback on that with the why drill drill a little bit deeper on that I actually think the gap is getting bigger, that the gap between go to market and the expectations that customers have continues to widen.
Scott Santucci 10:51
I agree with you. And I think the reason that it's widening is really because of the whole digital economy that we're in what you know, you've got business we've talked about some of this before, but we've got businesses who were office furniture companies, and they are now becoming space optimization businesses, because of this whole digital world. But I think that that is one of the driving forces that is illuminating or accelerating that gap between strategy and execution. And most companies don't have what Brian and I like to call an execution fabric to tie all those those pieces together.
Brian Lambert 11:27
And, and to that end, execution is extremely problematic, right? So, we're not going to get into that. But, you know, what I would say is, we can't let the idea of product marketing or messaging or demand Gen, or even sales enablement, trumped the idea of execution. Right, you know, executions, the most important thing here, that's when let's figure out back then we have this debate what means to fill that gap because silos are not getting us there. And sales conversations are suffering, what might that look like? How might we go about defining that? So, let's let's pivot there, you know how explain explain how we went about defining that? Did we lock ourselves in a conference room and write it?
Scott Santucci 12:13
So, the sequence of events were, and this is where the, you know, sort of the discipline of research and why I would recommend all of you before you pick a definition that you use, go and find out what's behind it. Just because it sounds good, doesn't mean it is good. So, the way that we went about doing it is we first shot this observation, right? So, I'm sorry if I'm going to sound like dusting off past memories of high school, but if the scientific method is you start with an observation, so we had the observation of a gap between strategy and execution. And then what you do before you develop a hypothesis is you get some reviews. So, we interviewed executives based on that observation from company like Accenture BMC computer associates or CA, Citrix, CSC Dell, HP, IBM NetApp, Oracle, SIP and Semantic. And what we did there is say is this is this phenomenon that we're observing something that you're observing too? So, we went and confirmed that hypothesis. So, the, the the confirmation was yes, that occurred. Then we went and looked at financial reports and pulled out some trends of other businesses that were happening. So, we pulled out examples of CEOs and from annual reports that highlight that provide proof points of this gap. So, we saw that executives are focusing on pragmatic, profitable growth, continuing to retool the sales engine, eliminating waste, trying to drive differentiated support at the point of sale, transforming rep seller behavior outside of their comfort zone. Were all trends that we saw way back in 2008. Do they sound familiar today? Brian?
Brian Lambert 14:06
Yes, they definitely do sound the same, they're actually getting more heightened, and new business models are actually emerging to tackle those things. And then to when you rattled off the list those companies, those companies have evolved, and they're still around, and some have been on the ropes, you know, but but they've all gone through some sort of evolution. And I think that was a good sample set there. To to use, right, you 10 years later, these companies are still still respected, and they've gone through their own evolutionary change.
Scott Santucci 14:39
So, the second thing that we did to confirm the observation was, maybe it makes sense to get a buyer's viewpoint of the gaps between execution. This is all before defining it. This is the work that we did before that. So, what we did is because we're Forrester, well, geez, we already have access to buyers. So, I just interviewed some actually many and here's some of the trends that we observed. Buyers are stratifying their suppliers into a caste system. We saw many, many, many efforts underway. Actually, there were many people forced her to do vendor analysis and the like, and saw a lot of vendor consolidations, actually real strategic programs to move people into procurement. Another one is that buyers are differentiating among vendors based largely on their engagement strategy. In other words, what we found is that buyers prefer to work with work with the companies based on the way that the sellers engage with them, not what their products and services are. That's a myth. That was we found that to be a myth that the branding is the preference, or the price point was the preference. Another thing that the third observation that we found in engaging with those buyers is that they rarely find value from conversations that they have with vendor salespeople, as a matter of fact, the data that we have at the time was less than 15% of executives found that their inner interactions with sellers was valuable. So, what that held us to to make ask the question is if these are if these things are going on, that buyers aren't really valuing it, companies are spending a tremendous amount of money something's something's gotta give.
Brian Lambert 16:23
So when you and when you look at that, on the buyer side that you mentioned the caste system that we're going to differentiate based on how people engage with us and this idea of relevant conversations and what that looks like, I think there's been fuel put on that that fire on the buyer side, you know, you hear you've got challenger sale now challenger buyer, but, you know, more importantly you have this idea that buyers and the people involved are really having a hard time making decisions, you know, 6.2 people are involved. This idea of a caste system is becoming You know, bipolar, if you will, or or, you know, two groups now instead of multiple groups, you there's either that you're in a transactional sales pattern or buying pattern and you're, or you're in a highly consultative one and in the middle ground is hard to occupy.
Scott Santucci 17:15
So, I think you're right. So, you know, going back to the scientific method of where we were right, it was, we have this observation about a gap between strategy and execution. Then we did the did the research to see whether it's true. So, we talked to people if that was a valid thing, then we looked at financial reports and, and earnings calls to get some data there. We collected data from buyers, and then we went back into into inside the resident companies and made observations there. And those observations really came up with this observation of random acts of sales support underlying the underlying the ability to execute. So, we found that companies are spending 15.9% of their SGA on stuff to enable sales conversations, we found that the fragmentation of these efforts confused customers. We found that because of that, because that information is all over the place, it creates an organizational drag. I'm wondering if all of the different definitions of sales enablement that haven't been thoughtful, are those that are is that's what's driving a lot of this activity that we're being so focused on getting something out the door and not worrying about making it making it...