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Ep30 Part 4: COVID-19 Response Series: Questions About the Path Forward
Episode 3027th March 2020 • Inside: Sales Enablement • Scott Santucci, Brian Lambert, Erich Starrett
00:00:00 00:56:37

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Welcome to the Inside Sales Enablement Podcast, Episode 30

This is part 4 of 5 in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, specifically tailored to sales enablement. As sales enablement leaders, we have a huge role to play in helping sellers navigate these trying times.

If you listened to our first three episodes (episodes 27, 28 & 29) we talked about what is going on in the global market, how companies are likely to respond, and what you can do about it.

In this episode, the guys are fielding your questions. The questions are based on podcast feedback and also the responses we collected with a short questionnaire we sent to Insider Nation. 

Based on a rapid fire format, you’re bound to take away many actionable ideas on what you can do lead from the front. 

Our agenda for this podcast series in response to the global pandemic has five parts:

  • Part 1 (Ep27): What is really happening in the market?
  • Part 2: (Ep28): How are companies likely going to respond?
  • Part 3 (Ep29): What can Sales Enablement leaders do?
  • Part 4 (Ep30): What are your peers thinking and doing?
  • Part 5 (Ep31): How do we lead our teams, our companies, and our initiatives to help sellers be successful?

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 and we are the sales enablement insiders. Our podcast is 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've worked on over 100 different kinds of sales enablement initiatives as analysts, consultants, or practitioners. We've learned the hard way what works Perhaps most importantly, what doesn't.

Brian Lambert 01:03

On this episode, we're going to have part four of our COVID response series. In March 2020, we had a panel discussion of a venture capitalist, an academic, a top performing sales professional, and Scott and I. And we talked through the impact of the global virus on the economy, and more importantly, on sales enablement. We talked about the data, comparing this to previous recessions. We talked through some ideas and some approaches you can take within your company and projected what we believe would happen inside of companies. As part of that. Scott and I put out a survey to the insider nation. And many of you responded not only with thoughts around what what's happening in the current economy, but also what you wanted to ask us and what you wanted to hear about, and that's what we're going to talk about today. On this episode, the questions from insider nation regarding the current condition, and the future of sales enablement. Scott, why don't you set us up? provide a story and center us around this this concept?

Scott Santucci 02:14

Yeah. So, we're going back to our, our format. So, we recorded all of the previous three episodes all at once. And we of course, chopped it out. So that's in a series. This one, what we're trying to do is make make sure that we capture enough or we're able to answer enough of the questions. So, what we did in our survey is more like a pulse check than a real research survey. We gave our insider nation a whopping six hours to respond. And 25 of you responded well, so that's, I think that's a fantastic turnaround. So, it shows that there's a level of interest and the like and some of the things that that that we learned from you and your your peers, here's what you like about our podcasts, we're going to try to keep doing more of this allows for a wide-open look at what works. I like that because that's actually a design point that we have the presentation and discussion of structured ways to help improve our sales enable initiative. Again, that's great that that's coming out are very, very focused on on the on the structure lots what comes to mind immediately to mind our strategic frameworks role playing executive points of view, and most of the history corpus historical analogies. Tell me the ones that don't work guys because I don't know.

Brian Lambert 03:42

They like beaches, that's for sure.

Scott Santucci 03:44

Well, the beaches that plays well with the ladies.

Brian Lambert 03:47

They also like the the metaphors and insight. Yeah, that was part of it. And the content and Frank approach that means I can interrupt you more. I think that's my, that's my opening.

Scott Santucci 03:58

Okay. That's how you take it. Instead of that we're talking to addressing real issues. Right? Always timely and insightful. They either affirm what I'm actively promoting or make me stop and reconsider some of the some of my approaches. It's exactly what we are hopeful is happening. The structure the back and forth really insightful, relevant content. I like this last part. Where does it say, Brian?

Brian Lambert 04:22

Oh, it doesn't waste my time, which is great.

Scott Santucci 04:26

Exactly. We're trying to not waste your time and try to help you make you think through these things to be thoughtful and practical at the same time. topics are often relevant to me a few helpful hints on sales enablement, focused topics, useful tips, format, and openness.

Brian Lambert 04:42

relevant topics are discussed and formal down to earth tone. And I like this one, the idea of it's a bit theoretical, but also, it's got practical ideas and that's one of the things that is a design point for this series in this podcast is provide a little bit of a top down but also sink Things you can go do and take away.

Scott Santucci 05:02

Yeah, our point of view on that is, is pretty simple. If you're too focused on practice over time, and you don't innovate and bring in any new ideas, guess what happens, your practices get stagnant. If you focus too much on the theory, guess what? Nothing ever happens, figuring out that balance and what that balance should be, is a tough task for anybody in sales enablement. So now moving forward, what's our centering story? And I'm going to, I'm going to keep it short because it's more of a metaphor than it is a story. But Brian, do you ever watch the BBC?

Brian Lambert 05:40

Oh, yeah. I'm fascinated. I like I like comparing the, the way they present the news thing and BBC News versus what we do in the in the States. Yeah.

Scott Santucci 05:50

So, what I've what I love is, so we have states of the Union addresses and they have something different over there. And I'm always fascinated Because what happens is the prime minister walks into whatever the house that is I don't know what it is but addresses parliament. And he stands and he does a very short, prepared remarks sort of like a the the letter to shareholders that a CEO might write.

Brian Lambert 06:17

Oh, yeah, right. And it's game on man.

Scott Santucci 06:19

Oh my gosh is a game on so they have that giant book. And he's you know that whatever that book is that that gigantic book that they have?

Brian Lambert 06:27

Oh yeah.

Scott Santucci 06:28

And then boom, they start they start getting all these aggressive summer aggressive questions and some are softball questions from all over the place ranging from this school district has a big drug problem. What are you doing about it too? What is the global geopolitical landscape look like? I mean, right topics all over the place. And it's amazing to me, how boom spot on and how quick, the Prime Minister answers those questions. And then I compare that to the past present. that we've had, and I go, huh, wow, would it be great if they could answer questions like that? So here we are, we're trying to mimic that. And what we're going to do is in the survey that we prepared to try to collect your feedback, and what's on your mind as investors of our as investors or our listeners of our show. And what's on your mind, we put out the survey and some of we had some open-ended topics and one of the topics was what topics discussion or advice would you like to hear in this special podcast? And after we recorded our panel session that Brian referred to with Dr. Dover and Kanaal metha and Lindsey Gore, we went through and said, you know, we think we answered these questions, but in a roundabout way, let's go through and be specific. So, what we're We're gonna do is we're going to go off we're going to alternate reading in order. So, these are questions that appeared in order. We've arranged them in no particular way. We don't know who has time for that. But these are the, in the exact words of you our audience.

Brian Lambert 08:15

Yeah. And these came in 24 hours ago and we do not have a big book. So, we're just gonna go for it. Exactly.

Scott Santucci 08:22

There you go. That's, that's what our podcast is about. It's what's on your mind? And what are some some thoughts? So, I'll start off with the first one. We're going to alternate reading the questions. And then we're going to alternate having a first answer and, and then move forward. We're going to move through the series really quickly. Then we're going to talk about what we observed in the questions and then figure out what new podcasts that we need to have and then we're out. Sound good?

Brian Lambert 08:49

Nice. Yeah, let's do it. I'm in a coffee shop setting. That's my mentality. Okay. So, office shop with the insider nation right now.

Scott Santucci 08:57

You know what it is? It's It's, it's addressing Parliament but COVID so they're at it, they're having to do it remotely.

Brian Lambert 09:09

That's right.

Scott Santucci 09:11

That's what we're doing. So, we're actually the the delegates have inputted their, their their questions. So here we go, here's the first one. And right off the get go is a great one. What's the process to go from an ad an ad hoc sales enablement to a robust dedicated strategic sales enablement? Go fire!

Brian Lambert 09:37

Well, so I think you got to define the from what to what very clearly what is ad hoc in versus dedicated and things that come to mind. There are ad hoc process ad hoc programs and projects, ad hoc stakeholder management. And if you just take an inventory of what those components are, and say, how do you get to a structured Strategic view of stakeholder management processes, programs, etc. You can start painting through and painting out a journey that you can take across critical components. Obviously doing that in the context of what's really happening in the sales teams that you're supporting. And we can talk through that on a probably a separate podcast, but that comes that's what comes to mind Scott, what do you think?

Scott Santucci 10:24

Gotcha. I think there's there's two parts right part number one, I like the from what to what. So, you can use the three levels of maturity that we that we've talked about in other shows, level of maturity number one is fragmented or highly reactive. So, think about yourself as a firefighter. Maturity Level Two is managed. Think about yourself as being planful about what your sales enablement programs are and coordinated with with other people. Sales enablement level stage number three is adaptive. You it is difficult to define a process going from one state to another state without also having a maturity model to work backwards from now that now having said that, so that's basically your North Star have three different phases. If you want to have five, that's fine. I think that's too complicated myself. Three is great. Now, what you have to first do is recognize why your ad hoc in the first place and that is difficult. So, the first step in the process, it's almost like AA Brian, right? It's it's step number one is admit you have the problem. Step nine is step number two is take inventory, what are all of the things that you're being asked to do it to begin with, and then figure out if you can put a price tag on them? That price tag could either be what does it cost us to do that thing? Or what are the results of that thing? If the cost is higher than what the results are Stop doing them. A big element of going from ad hoc to robust, isn't doing more stuff. It's stopping doing the things that don't add value, you're not going to be able to do that unless you do some sort of inventory with an 80/20 rule. So, we definitely think we need to go through that concept more. But to be simple about it, if you want to move from ad hoc to robust, the first thing that you have to do is stop taking all the inbound that you're doing and just take order taking. You have to figure out what, how to learn how to say no, if you will, and get good at that.

Brian Lambert 12:39

I like it. Great next question, how to how do we guide sellers in the types of conversations that are going to resonate most with customers and prospects during the uncertain times that we're in today and in the weeks to come? So how do we guide sellers?

Scott Santucci 12:58

So, there's a two parter here is Well, you must have a North Star. And what do I mean by a North Star is these are the principles that we're going to go through. If you engage customers and prospects during uncertain times and you're inauthentic, you might as well write them off forever. The trying to engage during these times and being honest and authentic is probably the worst, worst movie that you can make. So, what you need to do is create a Northstar of you know, here are the principles that we're going to follow. The second thing then is how do you add value in uncertainty in the way that you add value is to provide anything that's clarifying. So, for example, if you are engaging with a customer, and you've been, you know, in the stages and you've, you've constantly talked about products, change the conversation topic to be about how other clients have been successful. or collect, have those sellers talk to other other customers and ask them, how are they responding to COVID? Have teach them and give them a format to collect that information and say, that’s interesting, Brian, that you're responding this way. Here's how other people are responding. And what you're doing is by doing that, you're helping them feel less isolated, the customer feels less isolated, but you're also giving them clarity in uncertain times. That'd be my, my quick answer. I think how to do that is, is a bigger topic.

Brian Lambert 14:37

Yeah, I like that. Where my head went on this one is, well, who's the guide? So, the question is, you know, how do we guide sellers? And you know, on one of the episodes, Scott, we talked about the role of sales enablement, and the role of sales management. So, where I went on this was the real guide in my opinion right now probably is sales managers. As they're dealing with change, and you know how, how is sales enablement, going to help that unit that Team Drive team outcomes that sales manager and his or her team? And I think there's three key areas one, what are they seeing? So, in a time like this, there are a lot of, I don't know, anomalies, let's call them blips changes challenges. How is the manager in the management team inventorying these anomalies and then what are we doing about it? That's one second thing is the idea of remote work or changing the teaming dynamic? If there's a manager that used to go in the office all day, and that's where their salespeople were? Now you're in a remote environment? Are you equipping that manager to have the tools to help and not just inspected and or perhaps even run things like they used to say, what changes and are you providing that that help? And then the third thing is this idea of being real and being real with with what you know, like what you said Scott with with customers, but that reality to me, starts on the sales team. So, in a time like this, you know, people are human. How is the manager in the management team processing that humaneness whether it's, you know, school closures or kids in the background? And then how do they work through that together to stay focused to to work together to be creative and have the right kind of conversation with customers? That's what I would say.

Scott Santucci 16:36

Next question. So, get ready, Brian, you're up first. Okay, translating marketing's obsession with and that's in quotes brand, down to the something that is meaningful to the field stories on improving operational efficiency to give get of removing redundancy, but asking for different behavior. I think we did that already about the You know the how to say no. And more on manufacturing the right reps.

Brian Lambert 17:05

Yeah. This one is is an interesting one. And it's because the context and the backdrop here is the times that we're in and the changes that have been happening because of COVID. And the response, this one is a symptom that's been going on, perhaps longer than just the COVID situation. I mean, the idea of Mark quote, unquote, marketing's obsession, and translating that into real conversations. That's probably something that's been eating at this person for a while doing in the context or tackling that in the context of a dynamic market like we're in and risk aversion of customers. You can create an opportunity to be more specific, but it also could create some paralysis. So, timings probably not the best to tackle that. But if you had to, I would say, look, you know, our customers are more risk averse. They have, I think No, we're having conversations. But these conversations that we're having are not necessarily on the buying journey, so to speak, they're not on that buying path. So, I need to do two things I need to relate better, what kind of content Do we have to help me relate better, other than that COVID-19 message that legal wants me to stand? And then to, how do I actually, you know, be real enough to talk through their risks that they see inside their own organization? What kind of content Do I have there?

Scott Santucci 18:32

So, here's my reaction to that. I'm a big fan of Winston Churchill's, quote, never let a crisis go to waste. If this has been and I'm going to concentrate there, this is a three-part...