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Ep33 State of SE Panel 1: Sales Enablement Experts
Episode 3321st April 2020 • Inside: Sales Enablement • Scott Santucci, Brian Lambert, Erich Starrett
00:00:00 01:02:32

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Welcome to the Inside Sales Enablement Podcast, Episode 33

In March 2020, the guys fielded a groundbreaking study on the Future of Sales Enablement. We wanted it to have more open ended answers to reduce the sampling error bias and to take different lenses and different tools that we could use as researchers to do our analysis. Our goal was to get 50 responses. You (Insider Nation) gave us 70 responses within a week! We ended up with over 100 responses to that start survey -- which is incredible.

To help us analyze the raw data, we created our Insider Nation: Guest Analyst Program. Our first 3 guests analysts are:

  1. Tamara Schenk: Sales Enablement Leader | Advisor | Author | Speaker | Mentor | Empowering Human Potential in Sales Teams and Leaders
  2. Josie Marshburn: Founder of Sales Benchmark Index with previous leadership roles in Sales Enablement at Oracle and VM Ware.
  3. Mike Kunkle: VP of Sales Effectiveness Services at SPARXiQ 

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.


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 00:36

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

Scott Santucci 00:40

Today we have a special edition podcast. It's actually part it's it's actually part of our overall study on the state of sales enablement. And the program that we're doing that we've been sharing with you as listeners. So, to remind everybody, our COVID-19 series started off with a panel and the panel conversation was with Dr. Howard Dover, from the University of Texas, Dallas, we had Kanaal Metha, who is a operations portfolio executive at TCP. And then we had Lindsey Gore, who's a enterprise sales executive to keep us honest. And in that, in that series, we ran into a pretty interesting conversation, which was around how are your companies going to react to all this COVID. And a discussion happened about Well, where's the state of sales enablement, going to lead to? Well, that definitely was concerning. So, what we did Brian and I talked about it, and we decided that what we needed to do is do a study. So, what we what we put together was a survey. And we wanted it to have more open-ended answers rather than asking, you know, direct questions that are, you know, yes or no, or things that you can measure, partially because we're trying to reduce the sampling error bias, we're trying to take different lenses and different tools. So, you know, as former researchers to do it, our goal was to get 50 responses, we thought that setting our target as having 25 would be rich, because this is much more qualitative than quantitative feedback. And that having 25 responses from sales enable professionals about where they think the world's heading is great. Well, what did you do as insider nation gave us 70 responses within a week? So, it's been difficult for those of us on our end, Brian, and eyes in formatting it. And then of course, on our our esteemed panelists, in which we're going to introduce here in a minute sorting through all your answers. And then as of today, so we had 77 responses in one week. As of today, there are 95 responses to that cert survey, which is incredible. So, thank you so much for insider nation, and also the sales enablement community. Now, as we've mentioned, this issue about bias, we're very interested in figuring out what's really, really going on. So, we started a guest analyst program. So, this is something that you can't do at Forest or or CSO insights or, or gardener. And really, what we're doing is we're tapping the expertise of our listeners and people in the community. And I've reached out to people who have been in the space for at least 10 years to be able to see that. So, I'm extremely excited with our with our first batch. So, what we did is with this guest analyst program, we've interviewed them, and really what I do is it's really hard for me, but I try as much as I can. And you know, our panelists, you can tell me whether I did a good job of that or not, I just try to listen to what is on the minds of others without sharing my, my perspective. Then what we wanted to do is so that the rest of the community, our insider nation, can hear about these dialogues, is pulled together a panel. And I'm incredibly honored and excited to introduce everyone, our first panel to share the findings of the findings or her I don't even know what we'll call them, maybe maybe we'll do that. So, joining me today is Josie mashburn. So, Josie has a background of running sales enablement at both Oracle and VMware among other things. I met her actually as a panelist for a learning and development summit maybe two or three years ago. And since then, I've tracked her progress and, and has been excited to see that she's joining joining the world of sales enablement, expert experts out there for hire. So welcome Josie, would you like to introduce yourself and give a little color to our audience?

Josie Mashburn 04:45

Hi Scott, thank you so much for having me on today. I really appreciate it. So, I run a consulting firm called sales enablement benchmark where we help leaders improve sales performance, and it's interesting whether you're a small startup or a very large organization There are always areas of improvement that we can make in sales and, and in including sales enablement. So, I'm very happy to have participated in the survey and have an opportunity to chat with you about it and the others today. Thank you for having me.

Scott Santucci 05:16

Excellent. Thank you. So next up is is Mike Kunkel. If you are on LinkedIn, and you don't know Mike Kunkel is I don't believe that you're on LinkedIn. Mike is very, very prolific in this space. He's been he's been involved in sales enablement, and sales training since since its inception. He's heavily involved in ATD and helping to build out that practice. He's developed his own methodology around sales and mail when he calls the building blocks, which I'm sure we'll hear hear about. And Mike and I met at least eight years ago, I remember it was at a conference at conference at Forrester. And Mike, take it away. Tell us a little bit more about yourself.

Mike Kunkel 06:00

Yeah. Hey, Scott, and Hi everyone else, really pleased to be here too appreciate the chance to talk about what's happening in the profession. Yeah, remember that 2013 Forrester conference with you in the white lab coat? Right being the the simplest that we possibly can be but not as not simpletons. Right. So that message stuck with me for many, many years. So I am, I'm the VP of Sales effectiveness services for sparks IQ. And we serve wholesale distribution and manufacturing companies, helping them with sales analytics, like strategic pricing, and territory optimization, knowing which accounts to focus on and then doing the diagnostics, around sales effectiveness, sales enablement to help them understand how to create a path forward to improve sales results. So that's a little about me.

Scott Santucci 06:56

Excellent. And then last, but definitely not least, is Tamra shank. Tamra and I go way back. Actually, she was a client of our of mine when I was at at Forster and was one of the leading members of that sales enablement Leadership Council that we had when she was working at t systems and running a big sales enablement transfer transformation effort. You might know her today as the sales enablement analyst with CSO insights. So, she's done a lot of work there. And she's written one of the most formative books around the space. I can go on and on and Tamra and I go off can go off and a lot of different tangents. So, I'm doing my best to keep it tight. Tamra, welcome. And tell us a little bit about yourself.

Tamra Shank 07:44

Hi, Scott, and everybody on the show. Very happy to be here. Yeah, so we go way back, I think a decade or so. I am now in a very interesting perspective of having done this in a leadership role for six years. And also, having looked at this for six years as an analyst, and are focusing on helping sales enablement leaders to to get this right to create impact and also helping organizations to get better than what I currently do for sure.

Scott Santucci 08:13

Excellent. So let me just walk you through it to our audience. Here's the format that we're going to walk through. I have three open ended questions that we're going to ask our panelists. My job is to, you know, to facilitate and get into answers. And then we're going to turn it over for Brian for a recap to close out. Brian, tell us about what what you're going to do. And when you chime in what's happening for our audience to follow along.

Brian Lambert 08:36

Yeah, thanks. Hey, everybody. Good. Good to be with you. I will be listening to everybody's comments. I may chime in seeking clarification. And at the end, I'll summarize what I'm hearing and make sure that our guests analysts agree with that. And from that, we'll be able to have clear takeaways from this discussion.

Scott Santucci 08:58

Excellent. So, let's get started with our panel. Question one I'm going to ask in order. So, the first, the first question is to Josie and of course, every panelist will will respond to it. Having looked at the survey findings, what are a few things that stood out for you?

Josie Mashburn 09:18

Scott, what really stood out for me as I was looking through the survey findings is the variation in answers. There are answers that people gave that are from a thought leadership position. And then there are answers that people gave that were concerning, they seem to be uncomfortable in their role. They seem to be uncomfortable with the questions in some cases. And and that's, that's concerning, especially in light of where we're at with the economy and the workforce right now.

Scott Santucci 09:51

Excellent. So, we're going to double back in this section and have you have a chance our panelists interact. Mike. What what You're having looked at the survey, what are a few things that stood out for you?

Mike Kunkel 10:04

Well, one was that it seemed to indicate that people felt as I do that sales enablement as phenomenal potential. The concerning piece for me, is how many people recognize that we need to morph toward more of some have somewhat of an internal consulting role and to be more results oriented, to move the numbers to do bottom line to not just run initiatives? Now, that's a double-edged sword, right? It's great that people are recognizing that. But it's a problem that that's where we are, largely and the results ranged from highly tactical whether the answers to the questions rather ranged from highly tactical, to pretty strategic stuff. So, you know, I think it came out a bit that organization leaders are tending to get in the way of those results, or maybe getting in the way of us doing more internal consulting. And it became clear to me that the that we in sales enablement need to be organization leaders ourselves, not not taking orders. You know, we're being whipping boys. So, you know, I saw some great potential in there, but some of those things really concerned to me as well.

Scott Santucci 11:29

Excellent thank you, and Tamra.

Tamra Shank 11:32

Um, so what concerned me as well is the very broad variation of answers to every single question. So, if you looked at the question from what is it yeah, we we had answers from very tactical up to an engine to drive transformation. When we look at the shareholder question Edwards forum, many people apparently uncomfortable to answer. And that means we basically don't know what to tell them what we have achieved. And also, when it comes to how to look at it, and what what could have been asked, in addition, so the very broad variety of very tactical steps to get things done to get things off the checklist, up to how do we basically drive transformation in a bigger picture. So that tells us we have a lot of ideas out there, we have not a lot of clarity out there. And that's where we have to get to.

Scott Santucci 12:32

So that's interesting. So, Josie, back to you since you were the first in this segment. What are your reactions to hearing from your peers?

Josie Mashburn 12:42

I loved Mike describing it as internal consulting, because in order for you to be effective in this role, there's so many partnerships that you have to create around the organization. There's so many partners that either help supply content and enablement strategies for you, there's partners that you need to work with to enable those teams as well. So, I thought the description around internal consulting was very interesting. Leaders getting in the way was the other comment that stood out to me because I think it is our best intentions to help. And that's why there's so many groups that jump in all over the place, once they understand what enablement is. And they want to be a Me too, and that the problem is, then we overload any of our customer facing team members, too, with too much information, too deep of content, not the right content for the right conversation, and we confuse them. So those are the two biggest things that stood out to me in the other conversations.

Scott Santucci 13:49

Excellent. Thank you. That's great. How about you, Mike, what did you hear from your peers?

Mike Kunkel 13:53

Well, what I heard, interestingly, since we're talking about how much variance there is, in the survey results, what I heard across the three of us, was alignment about some of the things that we liked and the concern. Yeah, that was the thing. That was the thing that really struck me is that we tried to say it in different ways. But we were pretty much all saying the same things.

Scott Santucci 14:18

Yeah, sorry to interject my I can't resist. That's exciting for me as well. What's really cool is each of you guys have different color, right? There's a texture, that's different, but you're not different in terms of your observations. And I think that's the richness that we want to bring out the rest of this call. Tamar, how about yourself?

Tamra Shank 14:38

Yeah, very interesting. To to compare this, we come from different perspectives, but at the core, we come overall to the same observations regarding the survey, and it is to me a mirror to what sales enablement seems to be right now it is a collaborative orchestrating element is what we need apparently leads to a lot of uncertainty and unclarity for many people in the space or have these roles. And what I heard across some of these answers is a lot of helping here and helping there but then not having the right position to do that. So, we can only help others with if you're in a position of strength. And and that's where we have to get to first to to really get a lot of clarity, and in a more strategic set of enablement to be actually to be able to to help others are Incheon and and customers and customers.

Scott Santucci 15:39

Excellent. So, I'm going to zoom in now we're going to go to our next question. Our next question, Mike, you're going to be our chair on this one? Um, what was your favorite question? And why?

Mike Kunkel 15:53

I think if I had to nail it down, right, because I thought about this are a couple of things that leapt out at me, but I would focus in on what business is sales enablement? Because, as we talked about the variants already have the answers. And I looked at the answers to that. It was everything from like, we're doordash delivering, which, right to, to we are, we are management consultants, right? And I saw a pattern of management consulting come out there, I saw things like maximizing human potential Mission Control for a space launch, I thought was a fascinating answer. Right, you see a ton of professional development, professional services, things came out, right. But it it again, it was all over the board, from you know, being a service business, to being someone who should report directly to the head of sales is sort of the right-hand person or right arm of the sales leader, you know, to analogies with with oil exploration and production, like to try to find out where there was opportunity and run some key tests. And some of those got really exciting for me, right? Because I'm a big believer in the consulting angle. I'm a big believer in diagnose first, then prescribe. And I'm a big believer in systems thinking. And I saw some of those themes come out there. But again, what concerned me is that it was so all over the board with some of those, you know, really cool thoughts about how I think sales enablement, can help take organizations forward in good times or difficult times, like we're going through now. And then there were some things that were just so tactical about things. I don't remember this one specifically, what I keep thinking every time I think sales enablement, I keep hearing people saying the simplest stuff like, you know, messaging tools, technology training, buy, as opposed to how do we really get into our organization, figure out where we are, where we need to go next? What's gonna close that gap and how we're going to structure and support the organization to make that journey. And I saw all of that type of difference in variants. In that one answer, we still can't really define really sales enablement, what we do and how we're going to make an impact.

Scott Santucci 18:20

There's so much there. If you follow our show, you're gonna hear this is Scott being incredibly restrained, and not because Mike gave some red meat for me to want to chime in. And I'm going to take a deep breath. And I'm going to ask Tamra. What was your favorite question? And why?

Tamra Shank 18:40

My favorite question was the shareholder question. So, what would we write in a letter to the shareholders? Because it's what I experienced in my own role, it is incredibly important to keep the senior executives and and stakeholders involved and to keep them engaged. And this can only happen if you're really aligned to what they care about, to their goals to the metrics they are measured on. And what I saw through the answers of the survey, many, many people wrote strangely uncomfortable to answer this question. Others could not even understand this question, which also tells us a lot about the big problem of how do we measure success in sales enablement. So, while people know the names of tons of hundreds