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Ep24 Shift from Reactive to Proactive Sales Enablement
Episode 2415th December 2019 • Inside: Sales Enablement • Scott Santucci, Brian Lambert, Erich Starrett
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Welcome to the Inside Sales Enablement Podcast, Episode 24

Right now, growth is anyone's turf. Growth can be aligned to the sales department, the marketing department, business operations or the strategy team. Everyone "owns" the customer, and very few people have the answer when it comes to creating sustainable impact and success.

Today, only a few organizations have more strategic sales enablement capability aligned to the growth. The ones that do fold them into commercial operations or report directly to the CEO. While many Sales Enablement leaders aspire to become the Go-to-Market partner of the CEO, the reality on social media is quite different.  

The key question: Why are you here? Why does Sales Enablement even Exist?

Looking at the blogs, content, and discussions, there is certainly a big gap between the aspiration of Sales Enablement and the reality faced by many in the role. Transformation is happening in many sales organizations, but sales enablement is often a tactical "get stuff done" aspect of tactical decision making.

In this episode, the guys as a great question: "Are You Providing Strategic Sales Enablement or Are You the Land of Misfit Toys?" 

The answer to this question will determine your impact and success including:

  • allocating resources to projects you believe are most important.
  • defining who you report into
  • balancing the completion "fast tasks" with "strategic ongoing business impact"

That current state “island” of sales enablement is chaotic... it’s reactive. It’s where all the misfit initiatives are inherited by the VP of "broken things" end up.

In this podcast, you'll hear actionable approaches and real-world examples on how to balance the short-term with the long-term impact required to support transformations. Using examples such as onboarding and training, the guys talk about the strategies you need to help sellers get what they need to be successful.  

They will also share the discomfort many people have in being strategic (hang in there when you're listening!). The reward: Throughout the podcast, you'll learn how to do WITH sales, and stop doing TO sales.

As Jack Welch once said; "Control your own destiny or someone else will."

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 joined 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

Brian Lambert and 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 00:49

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

Brian Lambert 01:03

In a previous episode, we talked about who the customer is of sales enablement. And we answered that as the person who decided on your role and invested in it. Your department often exists based on a challenge as someone in your organization wants to address and how you scope it matters. And today we're going to talk about why you're in this specific situation that you're in. And we're going to compare and contrast the different situations in order to help you move forward in next year's 2020. And also take action in a way that makes most sense for your organization. So as usual, we start with a centering story to give our episode a scene. So, Scott, take it away from here.

Scott Santucci 01:46

So, we're recording after Thanksgiving, so we thought maybe a holiday theme would be would be very appropriate. And what holiday what Christmas holiday story wouldn't be great without a whole conversation about Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.

Brian Lambert 02:02

That's right, lay it on them.

Scott Santucci 02:04

Here. Here we are at the sales a day wood insiders podcast and we've talked about things like mendeleev and his periodic table. We recently talked about the Edsel. We're talking about Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. And you know the story about Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. He's tired of just being viewed as a as a parlor trick. So, him and Henry the elf, the elf, or if you remember, he's the elf that doesn't want to help. He wants to be a dentist. So, they go off to just on their own journey. And they run into, they land on an island, and that island is the island of what? Ah, it's the actually the land of Misfit Toys. The land, that's right, the land of Misfit Toys. Yep, thanks. And they run into that line. His name's King Moonracer.

Brian Lambert 03:02

I didn't know that.

Scott Santucci 03:03

You didn't know it was King Moonracer?

Brian Lambert 03:07

Is that the point of the story? Not just kidding.

Scott Santucci 03:09

Thats the point right to educate you on on Christmas tales. Actually Bob Britton. I wouldn't be surprised if he would send you send me a note. Because he, he likes the king King moon racer reference. But really, what is he the king of he's this land of Misfit Toys. And there's all of these toys that aren't good enough that were rejected by Santa to get to give toys to kids. And one of them. Like one of one of these toys that's particularly funny to me as a kite. And it's Miss fitness, is it, is afraid of heights.

Brian Lambert 03:45

That's right. And you know, when I first watched this, you know, I was not creeped out at all of this children's tale.

Scott Santucci 03:54

Right so there's all these different methods and King moon racer unites them and you know brings them together and makes them find meaning and the like. So that's, that's our story.

Brian Lambert 04:06

Wow, that's interesting. So, what effect does that have to do with sales enablement? Are you saying that we're misfits or we inherited misfit toys?

Scott Santucci 04:16

Well, it's a story that that resonates. So, this is how does it relate? There's two reasons. So, for those of you who don't who don't know, Brian and I, were, were involved at at Forrester, way back in as early as 2008 started my sales at a one research carcass. And back then, um, you know, there was a whole bunch of what is sales enablement? There were a lot of definition for it. Now, we probably have way too many definitions that were probably at the same. I think we were probably more clear about what it was back then. But a metaphor we use this metaphor a lot to describe the role. And really the role is, you know, the head of broken things. You are King moon racer of your own organization, you've been inherited, you might have inherited her a little less, a lot of those early sales enablement professionals would inherit things that maybe the marketing department wanted to touch. Things that sales managers didn't want to touch, things that sales VP didn't want to touch, and things that sales operations didn't want to touch. So wonderful things like simplifying the CRM system, or selecting new technologies to use, because vendors will come in and make, you know, make make briefings or, you know, fixing you know, various other broken things like the price configuration management system, things like that. So that's, that's really the Nicholas and the second reason that that, that maps is many of the people in the sales enablement side of which, you know, Brian and I were very instrumental and started actually, you know, Nico and Brian, up in February or in January of 2016, saying, hey, maybe we should start our local area networking group, and a lot of people who are really some of the first members of the sales enablement society really looked at that as a, that is also a metaphor. And we're a collection of people who are trying to get together to figure this stuff out. So those are what those are ways that uh why why it matches.

Brian Lambert 06:23

Yeah, that makes sense. And, you know, since that time, it continues. And maybe they're not broken things, but they're the land of maybe cool and cutting-edge things such as, you know, ai driven coaching or role-based applications for learning, right? So, not only have sales enablement, leaders, maybe inherited broken things, but they're, they're piloting some cool stuff too. Right? So, I don't know what what island that is, but I like the metaphor because in both both situations these are items that that are maybe one off or a little bit outside the norm. Business as usual in both Yeah.

Scott Santucci 07:07

Yeah, maybe it's sort of it's the island of broken things are you exist to fix problems and Island shiny things is your your job is to help us figure out how to take advantage of it, you know, enable it, right? activate it. Either way, you're outside of the mainstream. And as we all know, the mainstream, the standard operating procedure is pretty aggressive. You know, pretty pretty. There's a lot of culture that goes around that and being outside of those those two windows is can put you in a tough spot.

Brian Lambert 07:38

Yeah, exactly. And it's also a tough spot because of the nature of the transformation that many companies are going under. I think when you look at growth today, and what companies are doing to drive new business models, new revenue streams, evolve their platforms. Become become more of a, you know, all inclusive, one stop shop for technology and bring new capabilities to market growth, it really becomes the mandate and it's it's almost anybody's turf. It could be products turf, marketing's turf sales, obviously and the CEOs really trying to drive and pull these different level levers and one of the levers that he or she is pulling is this idea of sales enablement, as as a growth driver, however, you know, Scott, you and I have both talked about this. We don't see that an awful lot. But where are those folks are doing it and becoming the other side of the go to market, you know, the execution side of go to market. They're pretty busy, and they're not hanging out at these conferences that many people are going to, and they don't necessarily want to hear from vendors about the strategies that they should be engaging in to drive the go to market forward. And there's a big gap between what I would say the aspiration is and what they're tackling versus the reality that's unfolding out on the internet or the web or even in job boards or sales enablement society postings, etc. And I think that gap, I would say is really around, you know, why are we here? And I like the misfit toy analogy because it really gets to the question of why are we here? What do you what do you think about that?

Scott Santucci 09:23

So, I think that's great. I think what you've done is have provided a great landscape. So first of all, in the overall market, we all know, sales transformation is happening in the overall landscape. Then within your company, these things are happening, whether they're being actively discussed to where you can see it is a different story. But if you're a sales enablement professional, you're probably stuck in the Hey, I'm in the I've got the bright shiny toys and I've got the broken toys and I am really struggling, struggling or trying to make carve out a niche or add value in the audience. Operating rhythm that our Salesforce is in right now. So, the challenge that that creates is it creates a situation where, if you're a sales enablement professional are probably thinking, hey, a lot of the stuff that you talked about Brian is interesting, but I can't afford to think about that stuff that sounds too theoretical to strategic. I got a I got to keep my nose to the grindstone and just execute. That's a gut reaction that we typically hear another reaction that you might be feeling sort of like when you go home from work and wonder, you know, did I add value today? At am I being valued? Go home and think about, you know, talk with your talk with your spouse about whether you should get a raise or not, or you know, whether or not you can go ask for next round of funding next, next next year. All of these different questions that you got going on in yourself and you just don't know. Why don't you know, why are those things clear? You don't know, because you don't really have control of managing expectations of what your department is. And maybe you think you do, because you think it's really, really, really, really, really clear my clarity my wall is very specific. It's clear on my mbo's, and all I have to do is execute those mbo's every quarter. And I show that I'm hitting those mbos every quarter, I'm valuable because somebody else has defined what that value is. But the reality is, is that many, many sales enablement leaders talk to us. Is this a common theme? I wonder if you you run into this to Brian, is that many sales leaders I talked to say I'm really frustrated. The company just thinks that I'm just a trainer. And sales enablement is so much more. Yeah, that's right. Just like a trainer. Yeah,

Brian Lambert 11:51

I've seen I've heard that. But I've also heard you know, if the executive team would find us more, we could do more. And I think you're spot on between this this area of, you know, super tactical, I get stuff done, versus the handful that are, you know, helping figure out what to do, you know, figure stuff out strategically, what are we going to do here. And then there's the get stuff done crowd in the middle is this gray area and you get kind of buffeted around by the forces, you know, it feels like you're maybe on a, you know, on on a ride there, and it's in that ride of your life. You know, things start coming up, like you're pointing out, Scott, and, you know, how do you get control of that? How do you enter into the rhythm of the business and drive as a valuable partner?

Scott Santucci 12:40

Yeah. So, you have, we're going to use a case study here. And Brian and I are going to solve two different ways, but there's really only three choices that you have. So, this is the good news, right? The good news is in the world of complexity and all the swirling dervish that we've just talked about, you really only have three choices. Right, so here they are choice number one, you can decide or believe, whichever it is you can decide that the way that you personally are going to add value to the company is say yes to as many as many people as possible. I am enabling your success, they're coming to me because they're asking me for, I gotta say, yes. Completing the tasks at a high quality. You know, we make sure that they're done well, they have the right polish. We get them on on getting them done on deadline and maybe your internal brand as I get shit done. That's choice number one. Choice number two, you can do the things and then wait with choice number one, really, the whole idea is if I keep doing more of that if I keep working hard, obviously somebody's gonna value our department, expand our scope and you know, give me a raise, and give me the resources that I need to do more. The second scenario is, well, I want to I want to take more than that and control my hand, so I want to plant the seed. So, I'm going to do everything that I'm doing in number one, you know, concentrating on getting stuff done. But I'm going to take some of these reports that I'm seeing, and I'm going to start sending them off to people, I'm going to start positioning my department, and I'm hopeful that these reports will allow a VP of sales to go wow, this sales man was way more than than training or, wow, I had no idea how complicated your, your, your function is, I should give you a promotion or what will you know, whatever, whatever your goal is. That's scenario number two. And scenario scenario number three is to campaign more proactively go and start talking to the individual department leaders. Talk to them and give them insights about challenges that they're running into and help them see what the real problems are let them let them dwell on it and then let wait to ask for your you know, how you can help, and you know really illuminate and elevate the elevate the function.

Brian Lambert 15:14

So those are those are three areas so number one if you're following along as the gets to get stuff done. Two would be sending up reports and data to help in you know, drive or

Scott Santucci 15:25

Well, I wouldn't say data, I would say external reports. So, number three is you're providing insights, that's your own data, your own analysis.

Brian Lambert 15:33

Okay. And number two is maybe external thought leadership reports, etc. Yeah. Okay, gotcha. So, and then there's pros and cons to each of these and but what we're going to do before we get into that is tell a little bit of a have a situation that our listeners can participate in. So, we're going to use onboarding and the reason why we're gonna use onboarding is a lot of people are engaged in that in some form or fashion. And then one and then and then number two is if they're not engaged in it now, they probably will be at some point. So, we're going to use that as a way to have a shared experience here. And what I'm going to do is, I'll be I'll be, you know, in camp one to get stuff done crowd in basically talking about tasks, etc. And the Scott will be talking about, you know, area three about being more proactively managing and defining the value contribution to the function. So, from an onboarding perspective, you know, let's just say we we have a program already, and that program is a two-week boot camp, we have regularly scheduled classes, and the ask is, by by the management team, sales managers as well as our bosses to look at how we shorten it and then also have We add different skills to it. So that's the, that's the simple scenario. Is that good with you, Scott?

Scott Santucci 17:07

Sure. Okay.

Brian Lambert 17:09

So, I'll be reactive guy, my reactive guy, what I'll do, and how I might action is, I would do a bit of research, I would figure out trends, figure out through my own experience, what, what I might want to do to provide some, some topics through elearning because everybody else is doing it. I would build a bulleted list of what we're going to do. And then I give it to my boss and ask for permission to go and once I got it, I would go do that. And then then I would communicate what we're doing to sales. And I would make sure...