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Ep34 State of SE Panel 2: Sales Experts
Episode 3430th April 2020 • Inside: Sales Enablement • Scott Santucci, Brian Lambert, Erich Starrett
00:00:00 01:07:46

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Welcome to the Inside Sales Enablement Podcast, Episode 34

This is the second panel discussion where leaders dissect the research data points from the State of Sales Enablement study being led by Scott Santucci.

Fielded in March 2020, the study data-set ended up with over 100 responses! There were so many open-ended responses that a "guest analyst" program was created to help sort through the massive amount of data.

In this episode, we enroll the help of sales leadership. Question: What if your sales leadership called you in for an "Account Review" of your sales enablement efforts? How would you answer, and how would you explain your teams ongoing value to the organization, the specific initiatives adding the most value, and the upside potential (forecast) of your sales enablement efforts?

Well, buckle your seat-belt, our special guest analysts cull through 100+ responses and provide their take on the Future of Sales Enablement.

Our guests are:

  1. Skip Miller, CEO of M3 Learning
  2. Bob Apollo, CEO of Inflexion Point Strategy Partners
  3. Steve Crepeau, CEO of True Sales Results

To view the research method, visit

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

Episode Transcript:

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 00:33  

I'm Scott Santucci.

Brian Lambert 00:35  

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

Scott Santucci 00:40  

So hello inside our nation. As you know, our mission here on inside sales enablement is to give you the information you need to be successful in your role. Having been in the space for a long time, we've identified where big gaps are and resources for you and we're bringing them to you As part of this process, we have started doing a variety of COVID response activities. One of them is we had a five part series, leveraging the insights from Dr. Howard Dover, Kuunal Metha, who's a principal at private equity firm TCD. And then Lindsay Gore, a top sales executive at Microsoft, and her role was to keep us all honest. So that was a great, that was a great series. And coming from that we had a very interesting conversation about what private equity firms are seeing and their frustrations with sales and marketing in general. And then really what the role of sales enablement is that of course, cause Brian and I get to get concerned or curious about what the state of sales enablement is, and we launched a study. The study has a variety of different parts. The first part was doing a survey. So we conducted a survey, our goal was to get 25 responses because our survey was very q&a oriented, open ended text, we wanted to get the words from you of what you're seeing in your own words. Rather than having you react to what we think the words that you should be reacting to. We wanted to get 24 Films completed forms completed in a week. So of course, we set the goal at 50. And what did you do inside our nation? What did you do? Well, you got to 70 responses in one week. Today, we have over 100 responses. And that wasn't an easy survey if you took it. And if you're listening, you're probably one of the people who did. So that creates a high quality problem. The high quality problem with so much of that information is how the heck are we going to analyze it? And I'll tell you, there's a being a former Research Director, one of the things that you want to look for is where you put bias in. And when you have, when you have data, one of the things to look out for is where is the researcher or the analyst bias coming in, and I didn't want to do that. So I reached out to People who are experts in their fields and ask them for their input. So we've gotten a great response from from members of our panelists that we'll talk about here. But great response from over 25 people who are participating in our guest analyst program. That includes the CEO of seismic and the CEO of sales hood, if you know Eli, and includes SBI. As you know, salesbenchmarkindex is helping us out and given us an input. We're getting feedback from a variety of different sources that maybe you wouldn't think would would provide it and it's amazing how are communities coming together? In order all of this is leading up to if you can go to our website, inside se comm and log in. You can register for our findings meeting that's going to be on May 19. Do I know what the findings are going to be yet? No, we're still we're still analyzing. So I'm feeling a little bit nervous about that. But I think if you guys hype it more and make it more pressure point it'll be better quality for all of us. So having said that we're in the stage now where we're doing panels. And we're bringing some of the interviews together and we're looking for common trends in these conversations. Last week, we had we released our panel with sales enablement experts. If you know, Tamra shank, Mike Kunkel and Josie Mashburn. That was a fantastic one. And I'm delighted, just super excited for for this one right here. Now a little bit of a qualifier. One of the things that I've learned as a researcher is when you do interviews, you want to make sure that you don't share your opinions. And these three individuals will say I had more color and the email to send out to them, these three individuals because they're so skilled at sales pulled me into the conversation and got me model about what I think too. So I'm going to work really, really hard to make sure I don't put too much of my finger on the scale, but I'm publishing out that these guys are super expert at what they do they have conversations for a living and teach other people how to have valuable conversations. So this is going to be a Trump a Will's, am I a better researcher? Or are they better conversationalist? We'll see. So the competition is afoot. Now what I'd love to do right now, we're going to introduce our panel. So just to remind everybody of our format. I'm going to go through an introductions part, then we have three sections of conversations to go through. And then Brian is going to take over and wrap up and summarize where we found agreement on. So to start off with Skip Miller, Skip is the person that I know the most. So Skip has his own sales, training and productivity consultants, and he's had it for many, many years. I'll let him tell you who it is and what they do. But what was interesting is how did I meet Skip? So Skip and I met each other when he was hired at Forrester, while we were building the sales enablement practice to basically provide sales Enabling training to our Salesforce. So that's a tough spot to be into when you've got published research and we don't really do any things that scripted. And then he's got his own point of view. And then there's a lot of questions. Well, should we be listening to skip? And you know, why? What about our research, and it was really great because immediately we aligned on some key points and there was really no problem at all. So that's one of those things where I don't know whether it's more credible for me or more credible for him or we're both equally insane whatever the case is, that's how I met skip and I'm super delighted to work on this because I've been trying to find a way to work with skip ever since and this is this was a good way to get started. So skip, would you like to introduce yourself to our insider nation? 

Skip Miller 06:45  

I'm happy to, and it was a pleasure to work at Forrester. We there was record growth and record opportunities there. They were hiring a bunch of great people and, and the organization had some great leaders. So it was it was kind of fun to slip in there and work with you as you were develop. in that system enablement, sales enablement and stuff. So, I mean, that was, you know, 6789 years ago, you know, we still both keep in contact with a number of people from back there. And so if we do this for a living I live in the West Coast Southern California. So a lot of sass companies we do business with, you know, people, you know, small startups like Tableau and zoom and ringcentral and stuff all the way up to big companies like Google and stuff, but we try to do small and medium sized companies and get them when they're at that point where they're too big to be small but not big enough to be big and try to get them over that that hundred million dollar hump. So that's what we do and we have a good time there.

Scott Santucci 07:38  

Awesome. So introducing our next panelist is Bob Apollo. Bob Apollo has a also a sales consultant improvement organization called inflection point. And I got to tell you, the first time I saw that name, I always love that maybe it's because I've got a little bit of an engineering me and I just love that concept. But, Bob, I've known about for a long time. I've seen him post and every time he posts on LinkedIn, it shocks me a bit because like, man, he's saying it in the exact same language that I'd say it, how does he know the same language that I've got? So I was always curious, but I never really had a chance to to engage with them. So finally, we got we got this. And I was like, maybe this is my opportunity to reach out with Bob. And we had our we had our interview, and it was just so delightful to just be so aligned and not even know each other and have different backgrounds. That was I was really engaged and enlightened by that. And I think that that's something about the power of social media and how you can build connections if you listen and pay attention to people. So with that, Bob wants to share a little bit about yourself and introduce yourself to insider nation.

Bob Apollo 08:47  

Sure, and I very much appreciate the insight or the the invite. Thank you, Scott. I equally have followed you for some time. You know, I think you have reputation for being the Godfather or one of the godfathers of the sales enablement movement, although it's always been a bit of a puzzle to me as to whether that refers to parental or mafia practice anyway.

Scott Santucci 09:14  

I think I like the mafia part because that's cooler.

Bob Apollo 09:17  

There we go. So I also run sales effectiveness consultancy. It's b2b focused. It, uh, I think our sweet spot is typically scale ups, you know, post startup pre corporate, who we're trying to build something repeatable and truly scalable. And, yeah, I chose the name inflection point because there is probably a bit of the engineer in me, because if I look back at the work we do, it's probably as much focused on creating systems as it is developing skills. Of course, they're both important, but systems that guide Practice rather than impose, rigid and inflexible process. 

Scott Santucci 10:06  

Excellent so then our last one, and the person that I know the least, is Steve Crepeau. So here's how I got to know Steve. I can't remember what the post was, or what it what it what it was about. I don't even remember the topic. But I posted something. And Steve blasted me, just blasted me. And I love people who have strong opinions and can back it up. So I engaged him, and he wasn't. The other thing that I love are people who have the power of convention to backup if they're going to bless somebody to tell them why. I think that's all you can ask for today. And frankly, I take that as a sign of respect, not as something that's, that's a jerk. So I love that kind of that kind of dialogue. And it turns out, we actually agree to some hot words I guess or hot terms that that we disagree with or had different ways of saying the same thing. So obviously, I thought this was a great opportunity to highlight how diverse of opinions that we're looking to bring in. And frankly, I have no idea what Steve's gonna say on this. And that's another thing I'm excited about. So Steve, take it away, introduce, introduce yourself, and who you are. Sounds great.

Steve Crepeau 11:24  

Brian and Scott, first and foremost, thanks for the invitation to participate in this panel. Let me echo the sentiments of skipping Bob super excited to kind of debate and brainstorm here with with this elite pedal, and perhaps on the Simon cowl of the pedal. I don't know that I blasted you, Scott, I would refer to it as an animated healthy debate. And you earned a tremendous amount of respect because you defended with great conviction and with facts, your perspective and opinion and I think that's why we've gotten along fabulously for the last four years, but it did start off in under rather auspicious beginnings. I will admit to that. So I don't know, right? I think it's great. It's, by the way, just just just for the record, since this is gonna go out to millions and millions, maybe 10s of millions of people. I never subscribe to the theory of disagreeing with someone or trolling publicly, it's always I'll challenge a thought in a private exchange. That's the only way I do that. So if you remember was through LinkedIn messenger. I think we don't I think we've melted down LinkedIn messenger that Friday night. So in short, I'm Steve crepeau. I've been in technology sales the enterprise for 30 plus years as a sales leader, leading sales teams selling technology solutions. I'm the founder and CEO of a company called True sales results. We're a management consultancy, we focus exclusively much like Bob and Skip we have very similar ideal customer profiles based on what they heard fast growing b2b sales organizations that are looking for ways to improve their performance. So we work with our customers and help help them learn how to engage, influence and sell more effectively to their customers.

Scott Santucci 13:00  

Thank you, Steve. So we're now into our into the body of our show. So we have three questions and their segments. So set the first segment question is, having looked at the survey findings, were a few things that stood out for you. And I'm going to ask skip to answer this question first.

Skip Miller 13:20  

Interesting the nature of the survey and having a market research background, I spent years working at data quest and Gartner it was it was interesting on the subjectivity part of it because I'm used to, you know, zero to zero to 10, or a B to really being more objective. So reading through the subjective part was was quite interesting for me, actually seeing what people had to say, not just you know, ranges, which was really, really interesting to see, especially the stock market question and the US sales enablement people if it's on a rise if it's on a hold of It's a decline the different variables of this. So that was interesting.

Scott Santucci 14:04  

At some, what did you take away from that?

Skip Miller 14:06  

That life is a bell curve, and the top performing sales today, but organizations are doing really well. Most are the middle trying to figure it out and there's some that suck.

Scott Santucci 14:16  

Gotcha okay, Bob, how about you, having looked at the survey findings? What are a few things that stood out for you?

Bob Apollo 14:24  

Yeah, very interesting. I think one of the questions that struck me straight away was the sort of variety of responses to the question. If sales enablement, were to write a letter to shareholders, describing how you performed and what you're going to do next year, what would you say? And there was a tremendous, I think, range of different responses, including some who simply responded. That's a tough question. You know, I think it's a question that needs to be answered. I think when I look across the questions generally and the responses, you know, we heard about this idea of being somewhat of a bell curve. I think at least parts of the community are not yet performing as they and others would wish. I think the sort of elements of immaturity, maybe even schizophrenia, in that in the community, almost implying that, you know, they're still on a bit of the quest for a purpose, and yearning for respect. And that certainly fits in with some of the observations I've made of members of the community. There is this bell curve, but many of them are still, I think, struggling to earn the respect that they wish they had.

Scott Santucci 15:51  

Steve, how about you? What are the highlights of what you took away from looking at the survey findings?

Steve Crepeau 15:56  

So a few things that stood out to me was the coalescence In the freeform comment response around why sales enablement is on the rise, there seem to be a strong consensus that sales is complex and hard and only getting harder, which dictates the need for more effective sales enablement. But what I found interesting is if you compare and contrast the freeform comments around why sales enablement is on the decline, for the most part, those responses are quite diverse and all over the map. I was surprised that not one person said that a target their target customer should be an investor. If sales enablement was a business. I was really surprised that only one person replied that the product function was a competitor to sales enable because in my experience, often Product Marketing and or the Product Management Group metals and interferes with sales enablement. Frequently there's there's this inherent power struggle over who who kind of owns enablement, field enablement, and unfortunately, Too often the sales enablement group loses and kind of is relegated to a kind of a junior role. I loved the shareholder question absolutely loved it. It seems that a lot of people really struggled with that question there were there a number of individuals said, I don't understand this question. I would have to like write a dissertation. So catch up with you later Scott on it. And, but it didn't surprise me because in my experience, sales enablement, quite frankly, tends to struggle with developing a clear and compelling strategy for the business in the first place. And that results in them committing what I refer to as random acts of enablement. I think a lot of us do, and really being viewed as a tactical strategic function. I would say in closing, my favorite response was a proc was the reply to what question Should we have asked, which was the last question, and the single response that really stood out to me was this question was a shitty interview question. Now, that was my favorite response for two questions for two reasons. One The person actually went on to answer with a question they would have liked to see next that wasn't. So they contradicted themselves. And the second reason that I love that response is I asked that exact question at the end of every discovery conversation I have. So it's at least there's one dissenter a month out there in the audience that those are kind of my key...