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Ep39 Santucci on TRIAL re: the Definition of Sales Enablement with John Thackston
Episode 3915th May 2020 • Inside: Sales Enablement • Scott Santucci, Brian Lambert, Erich Starrett
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Welcome to the Inside Sales Enablement Podcast, Episode 39

In this episode, the definition goes on trial and so does Scott Santucci. Scott gets temporarily removed from the co-host seat by John Thackston, VP of SOAR performance group.

Perhaps no case in Sales Enablement history deserves the oft-used description "Trial of the Century" more than the case of Scott Santucci's Definition of Sales Enablement vs. the People.

In this podcast, the prosecutor's arguments are presented in a trial fashion. The defendant is Scott Santucci and he's waived his right to an attorney.

More than 10 years ago, the definition of Sales Enablement has existed in the market. The definition has created unprecedented international scrutiny and media attention, captivating the sales enablement profession. In one camp, the best definition = "whoever has the most organic search hits." On the side, the best definition is "created by VP's of Sales and CMOs and executives over the course of 2 working sessions as agreed upon by a team of practitioners."

You're the juror. You decide.

By the way, the first definition of Sales Enablement was written by Scott Santucci and published by Forrester in 2010.

That Definition:

Sales enablement is a strategic, ongoing process that equips all client-facing employees with the ability to consistently and systematically have a valuable conversation with the right set of customer stakeholders at each stage of the customer’s problem-solving life cycle to optimize the return of investment of the selling system.

Since that time, he's received a lot of feedback on this definition, and many many many other definitions have sought to take it's place.

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


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.

Brian Lambert 00:34  

I'm Brian Lambert.

John Paxton 00:35  

I'm Jackson 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.

Brian Lambert 00:49  

Thanks, john. And for those of you longtime listeners, you heard that right. That was john Paxton and not Scott Santucci. Actually Scott's on this podcast with us. But, john, are you ready to do this? So you ready to go, man?

John Paxton 01:04  

I am. I am. Absolutely. I'm absolutely ready to Yeah,

Brian Lambert 01:07  

yeah. Scotty excited.

Scott Santucci 01:12  

You know, I love being surprised, but not really sure what's going on here?

John Paxton 01:17  

Well, you know, it's, it's pretty funny Scott. Bryan actually reached out to me earlier in the week. And he said, You know, I am really, really just kind of tired of hearing about how Scott defines sales enablement, and there's so much debate about it. And it's really just time to put, you know, Scott's original work, sales enablement defined, it's time to put it on trial. And he said, john, I want you to come on the show we're going to do today, Scott is put you on the spot, you really wrote the original definition around sales enablement, we're 10 years in and we're gonna put it on trial and see, Hey, does this stand up? Or were some things that were off? That's what we're gonna do today.

Brian Lambert 01:58  

Right, man, you're on trial. Scott, you ready for it?

Scott Santucci 02:00  

Was this lightning evolution or creationism?

Brian Lambert 02:03  

That's right. Or people are People's Court. Okay. Well, let our listeners decide. Yeah,

Scott Santucci 02:10  

the first Actually, I'm not giving that $400 to john, no way.

Brian Lambert 02:15  

So first, let me

Scott Santucci 02:15  

let me do fulfill his his duties on filling back my my lawnmower when I lent it to them.

Brian Lambert 02:23  

Right. So So with this, this is for our listeners. First let me introduce john Thaxton to you guys, as our listeners of insider nation, oh, john is with soar performance group. He's one of the co founders of it. soar performance groups, a client focused sales consulting and training company that concentrates on sales transformation and enablement. JOHN is based out of Atlanta. And let me tell you something cool about him was when Scott first had this idea for the DC area, networking group of sales enablement, professionals, or whatever it was called, he put out this call, he gave me a call and said, I'm going to do this. Make sure you make sure you're all over LinkedIn. And we're going to do this networking group. I'm like, Yeah, man I'm in. So we put it out, Scott put it out. You know, we did our liking and sharing and we started getting people in and all of a sudden, this guy, john pings me on LinkedIn, I have no idea who john is didn't meet him before in my life. And he's like, Hey, can I come to this networking group? And I was like, yeah, sure, man, whatever. Of course, well, a few days before, I don't know, four or five days before he pings me on LinkedIn again, hey, I'm coming. I'm coming in from Atlanta. I'm flying in. I had to come in and leave on the same day. And my flights have me coming in. I might be a few minutes late to the start. So I'm on LinkedIn, my mobile app, you know, I'm like, okay, cool, whatever. But then, like, three hours later, it dawns on me. I'm like, Wait, what? This guy's flying from Atlanta. That's like, holy cow. This guy's flying from Atlanta. So I called Scott up. I'm like, hey, Scott, we got this guy come into the DC area networking group from Atlanta. Scott, do you remember that? That was john. And in that now, he's got you. He's booted you out of your seat, from sales enablement, insider inside sales enablement. So,

Scott Santucci 04:13  

well, I love that. And I think there's, there's a whole bunch of things going on. So if you're listening to this, a couple things to remember. We were trying to just form a local, a local networking group. In order to get that going. One of our podcasts, I think it's, I don't know we can get the episode around that was following up the being heroic framework, where I highlight being heroic takes little baby steps of courage. to, to just come to help out is exactly the kind of mindset of people that I want to be around with. It takes a lot of courage. It takes a lot of determination. To me, it says a lot about john human being to come in and say hey, there's a group of people here looking to do something that I personally believe in. I'm going to Lion from Atlanta to help out. So immediately there is the world according to Scott, john stock is through the roof for me. So I'm really grateful. And I'm assuming this is going to be a great experience of getting fired from my co host job. So, you know, I'm gonna have to, you know, I'm still looking in the mirror and tell him, you know, doing my affirmations, you know, I'm a good guy, people like me, my story is,

Brian Lambert 05:24  

gosh, darn it fire like you.

Scott Santucci 05:26  

Yeah, exactly, exactly. I'm interested in seeing how this goes. But I just wanted to stress to everybody. The way that the society grew, were little tiny baby step acts like john, john demonstrated. And if you're like that, please join inside our nation and find the little tiny baby steps to get engaged.

Brian Lambert 05:49  

There you go. Great words, and well spoken. And that's how that's how you grew. And that's how you started the society. And that's what got me involved. And that's what got john involved. And, and so what we're doing now, is, we're gonna put Scott on trial, as we alluded to. So here's the roles. So Scott, you're, you're the defense. Right? You're just the defendant. Alright, and our listeners are the jury. So you're the defendant, john is the prosecutor. So he's going to prosecute you about the report hero that I was helping you with at Forrester a long, long time ago called sales enablement define. So since I'm partially biased, because I'm a big believer in the report, and, you know, help you with the peer review, etc, I'm going to just be a proxy of the of our listeners, representing insider nation. So I might chime in, I might ask clarifying questions of either of you, through this activity. And this interaction, I'll be also summarizing what we're taking away. And I'll provide a bit of a recap at the end as well. Okay. So is everybody clear on their role?

Scott Santucci 06:55  

Well, yeah, I'm, I'm, I love this idea, guys. I don't know if anybody's ever done a podcast to do something like this. So I'm all in.

Unknown Speaker 07:03  

I do want to make one quick disclaimer that none of us are lawyers. And you should not take any legal advice from this podcast. for any reason. If we need to legal qualifier,

Unknown Speaker 07:12  

I want to make sure that no one listening for any reason believes, and you should take any of this and act on it in any legal capacity whatsoever. Please do not do that.

Brian Lambert 07:22  

That's right. That's how that's how that that's awesome. This is how totally unscripted This is. All right, cool. So I feel like we should have some sort of music, but you know, we'd probably get sued for copyright infringement. So we're just going to jump into it. We're going to go with opening statements. And we're gonna start with you, john.

John Paxton 07:41  

Well, Scott, I'm gonna, I'm gonna open up with this my high level summary, which is your report, I read it, I've read it several times. And the bottom line that I got to come come back around to is that definition is smoke and mirrors. It's great in theory, but there's no real examples where we can see it in practice. And on top of that, it's really let down all the stakeholder groups that it was intended to help. What I'd like to do is go through and really dig in stakeholder by stakeholder to understand, hey, based on the past 10 years, based on what happened, was the original idea valid, and where did it fall down? If we're not seeing it happening in real life? So that's, that's my point of view.

Scott Santucci 08:28  

Okay, so I had no time to prepare. So this is just going to be, you know, part of me wants to say, Who the hell are you to make that kind of statement, but I'll refrain from that. What I'm going to say is what I'm going to say is this. There are companies out there that are doing this. Well, if there weren't, why would we have listeners today? The the and then also letting down the stakeholder groups. Maybe you miss read this, this is targeted at the C suite. The core of the core business problem is that the sum of the parts of sales and marketing are wasteful, and they need to be coordinated. So does that mean each of the individual stakeholder groups whom it seems like you're trying to protect sounds like you're trying to defend a hierarchical siloed based organizational structure? So we can put that on trial too.

John Paxton 09:30  

And before before we dive into that, Scott, I do have one question for you. Before I really dive in to some of the you know, the deeper dive is when you wrote the report originally. So I think it's important to always start with a frame of time if we think back to 2010. You know, if we think back to the year 2010. I think I knew like one person that had an iPhone. So that's been a while. What was it that led you to write that report at that point in time. So the driver goes back to

Scott Santucci 10:01  

We at Forrester held a meeting in 2008. So the report that you're referring to is titled, August 3 2010. And 2008, we came up with a definition that we wrote, I wrote a statement. And I had that we had 10 VPS of sales and 10 CMOS in the room from Blue Chip companies. And the purpose was, let's admit that there's friction between sales and marketing. Let's talk about where they're at where the gaps are in responsibilities between the two. And then let's let's leave the room all agreeing on what a role could look like. So that was that was done in 2000 2008. The definition was published in a in a report called engineering valuable sales conversations, we learned was that that definition needed to be unpacked. So the purpose of this report was to do two things. One is to provide the business drivers behind why this is happening. And then to break down each of the different attributes of the definition to provide more context.

Brian Lambert 11:17  

Can I have Can I ask a clarifying question on behalf of our listeners? Scott? Yes. When you say when you clarify, this is happening, right? So what is this to what you're referring

Scott Santucci 11:29  

friction business business problems, okay. Lack of execution. So this, by the way, this report wasn't written by me per se. It was based on interviews with companies from Accenture, BMC associates Citrix systems SC, Dell, HP, IBM, NetApp, Oracle, SAP and semantic. And it also include cluded, full day discussions, both in Europe and in the US with 30 sales and marketing executive executives representing Alcatel Lucent, areeba BMC, software brocade, bt, Capgemini, Cisco, Fujitsu, Jen, Jen says HP, IBM, orange Business Services SAP semantic tea systems and VMware. So I am a messenger, not the message.

Brian Lambert 12:22  

So just the last clarifying question then just so I have the timeline, right. For our listeners, you Scott held these meetings with executives and CMOS, see had marketing and sales in a room. And that created a engineering valuable sales conversations view, which is not necessarily not on trial right now. Maybe it will be in the future. Anyway. So but the second piece of that that outcome was this need to clarify and to embrace and really confront the execution challenge. And that's the impetus for this report, which was a separate meeting of all those companies that you just named to which you are a mouthpiece for with this definition. Is that right?

Scott Santucci 13:05  

Yes. Okay.

John 13:09  

So with that with that, Scott, and I probably wasn't clear when I was talking about stakeholder views, because the stakeholders that I'm going to refer to are really the business stakeholders. And one of the things you brought up is, it was intended to knock down cross functional silos. I think you even quoted, you know, in one of your recent podcasts, that somebody who's an operating partner that looks over a large number of portfolio companies, they are noticing that their sales and marketing spend is not consolidating, is not, you know, becoming more efficient. I would imagine the average CEO, if you ask them today, are you getting a good return on your investment in sales and marketing? They would either scratch their head or they would say, No. So the thesis in the paper or one of the key thesis is there are too many people doing too many things. We need a way to consolidate all this and spend money smarter. How What do you say to that CEO or to that private equity investor that says, You know what, we have put sales enablement in place, we have a sales enablement department, our companies, but guess what? Our spend on sales and marketing, it's not going down, it's actually going up and we're being less effective. What do you say to those people?

Scott Santucci 14:22  

Well, there's two things. So I'm still reacting. I wrote down your bottom line and your, your opening statement, john. So in being a lawyer, let's stick the word you said was smoking mirrors. I just don't understand how somebody can say a report is smoke and mirrors, reports a report. This is based on evidence from these different groups. I've challenged, it's the lack of execution inside companies. And the lack of execution involves number one, a failure to do a full inventory or audit of all the spending. One of the things is very common inside Inside organizations is to skip the analysis, step four in sales and marketing, for some reason, just skip it. But if you go and do an audit, and follow up a hidden cost analysis, a hidden cost, a sales support, analysis, and inventory, all of the different all the different spins that are going to, quote unquote, help sales. And it's not just in sales and marketing, it's in product groups training, you name it, and you put all of that money together. And then you divide it by the number of sales people that you actually do have the quota carrying sales people you do have, what you have is a totally incredibly inefficient system. The bulk of companies aren't doing that work. Once, when you do do that work, and there are companies who've done that work, because I've worked with companies who've done that work. When you do do that work, you actually get to see how big the waste is. The bottom line that I'll tell you, john, is that if you've hired a sales enablement group, and you're not seeing a better return on an investment, you probably didn't do a good enough job of figuring out what the root problems are, and you're treating symptoms.

John 16:10  

I'm gonna concede the point on that one, let me ask the next level question down, which is, why don't people do that. I mean, if you just look at if you just look at the chart in your report, plays out so clearly, and so compellingly, hey, here's all these different money, I there's all these different money flows. And here's how much you're spending per Rep. And anybody with with any sort of financial argument would go, oh, my goodness, this is just, you know, this is just not not good. You know? So in spite of that, how is it possible if the evidence is so compelling, that people are willing to do that exercise?

Scott Santucci 16:46  

So, like, literally, this is, um, I'm breaking character a little bit, because this is super interesting. JOHN, your opening statement with the smoke and mirrors is so pissed me off. And so now I'm like, I'm here to fight. But then when you can see to the point, now, you're asking a question that I have to concede a point on. So it's interesting, like how things happen in real life. So this is all like in in real real life here. So this is really interesting. But I think that I think that is such a phenomenal question....