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Ep62 Leading the SE Function To Achieve Impact with Brian King
Episode 6218th November 2020 • Inside: Sales Enablement • Scott Santucci, Brian Lambert, Erich Starrett
00:00:00 00:56:44

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In this episode , we're joined by Brian King. Sales Enablement leader who brought a cross-functional team together to develop and clarify the value of his team at Intercontinental Hotels. In this podcast, we talk through bringing together cross-functional leaders (all who have a myopic lens of "value") as well as understanding the commercial ratio and how to leverage to elevate the strategic conversation and strategies.

And our focus is on you, as a sales enablement leader and Orchestrator, sales enablement, leaders need to develop specific characteristics that we call Orchestration, operate in the blended domain of strategy and tactics, where you do both. Our goal on this podcast is to help you clarify what that looks like, provide examples that you can then take an action in your own company and give you confidence to engage up down and across the organization.


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 00:34  

I'm Scott Santucci.

Brian Lambert 00:36  

I'm 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 00:48  

together, Brian, 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 and maybe what's more important, what doesn't.

Brian Lambert 01:02  

Our focus is on you as sales enablement leaders and orchestrators as a sales enablement orchestrator, you need to develop specific skills to blend both strategy and tactics together to help your company succeed. As you work across the sales and marketing, you're also bringing together a lot of different inputs, and you're turning those inputs into value for your company. As usual, we have a centering story, Scott, what do you have for us today?

Scott Santucci 01:27  

So our centering story goes way, way, way, way back.

Brian Lambert 01:31  

usually say that it doesn't isn't that far. Either way.

Scott Santucci 01:35  

With that.

Brian Lambert 01:36  

When you add all the emphasis you blow it that it's not that far back.

Scott Santucci 01:41  

We have the benefit of actually knowing what the story is because I'm including you on this one. So that's a little unfair. I'm using

Brian Lambert 01:47  

the fact that I'm not in the dark this time.

Unknown Speaker 01:50  


Scott Santucci 01:52  

But so we've we've had stories that go way back as I remember around BC period, BC when we talked about the invention of improv.

Brian Lambert 02:05  

That's right.

Scott Santucci 02:06  

That's how far back we've gone. So this time, we're going all the way back to episode six gaven, episode six of our actual podcast. So how modern are we getting here? So if you haven't, if you haven't listened to Episode Six, you probably shouldn't do it. It's we published this in in June of 2019. And there's actually a funny story about that. What prompted us to do this episode was a call that I made to you, Brian Lambert, of when I was in Atlanta, what was that call? Like?

Brian Lambert 02:42  

That's right, you called me and you're like, guess where I'm just leaving this meeting. And first you had some sort of travel disaster you went through, because there was some sort of major issue in the meeting had to start without you or something. And then you

Scott Santucci 02:54  

think our guests might have some comments on that.

Brian Lambert 02:59  

And then, you went to you told me about this guy who was like, you're not going to believe this. Brian, he got Lambert, you have this guy who brings who brings us all in when we're going through this idea of his charter. And then he actually at the end of this meeting, get this he briefs and brings in his executive team to do the readout. And that's what this two day meeting was about. How awesome is that? That this guy would put his, you know, team through this. And this is a group of people that actually was coming together for the Conference Board. It wasn't even his team. That's right, we're just super jazzed up about it.

Scott Santucci 03:34  

I am always so if anybody if any of our listeners has a idea to tackle something different out of the box, call me and I'll get in the foxhole with him because I just love anybody who does that. And our special guest, this is the guy or we'll talk about who he is in a second. I was the program director, whatever you call it for the for the Conference Board. And for those who don't know, the conference board's 100 and x 160 year old organization. It's actually the organization that came up with the 40 day 40 Hour Workweek that's that's true story, got labor and management together. And then during the Industrial Revolution, and ever since then, has been creating these councils. And that's how I met our guests. This guy, his name's Brian King, and he was one of the members. And we were having a meeting. I think it was at Tiffany's. We literally had breakfast. Two days at Tiffany's. Brian and I right. That's right, Brian,

Unknown Speaker 04:35  

right. Yeah. Ray would have breakfast. Every everyone's dream.

Scott Santucci 04:40  

Yes, exactly. So we were at we're having our meeting at Tiffany's. And we we had the situation where had everybody present out what their, what their sales enablement. Charter would be if we were on CNBC and it didn't go well. So we realized we needed to work on our messaging instead. We've got to adopt this idea of a business with our business. So Brian King goes while do that, that makes sense. I'll do that. So we decided on the spot. You know, little did we know, why don't we have our next meeting, our next Conference Board meeting at in Atlanta at international, intercontinental hotels group in Atlanta, so they have a big hospitality company. And what we're going to do is we're going to put all of us on the spot and create an agenda, where we're going to provide a readout for as executives. Now how cool is that?

Brian Lambert 05:38  

I that's amazing. That's,

Scott Santucci 05:39  

I think it's I think it's the coolest thing. So anybody who's got the stones to be able to pull that off is immediately going to be somebody that I idolize. And we have that person now with us, Brian King. So Brian, tell us a little bit about that story. And, you know, pick us up and what we're going to be talking about today.

Unknown Speaker 05:58  

Yeah, well, thanks. It's great to join. Both you gentlemen today, always have a great time chatting with you With you both. And talking about sales and commercial enablement, that that meeting was so interesting, because we had pulled together a considerable number of corporate executive board members, they all came to Atlanta, we sat in our boardroom. And for two days, we talked through challenges around value propositions for sales for sellers, about our product, and our product ID, intercontinental hotels, at that point in time was our brands. So everything from a Kimpton to a Holiday Inn to, to an intercontinental across our brand categories, and why our sellers who sell to them in the b2b space, so they would sell to the IBM's, the Cisco, the Coca Cola has, etc, in order to get their business travel, as well as their groups and their meetings and titles. And so we spent a lot of time really kind of focused on value propositions as well as loyalty. And we, as a sales organization, had a kind of working knowledge of what, what our ideas were, but we wanted to have loyalty and brands Come and join us in the room and listen to what other corporate executive board members like. Like Ernst, and young and Tiffany and Microsoft and anhand are really exceptional group of sales leaders. And listen to what they think about these value propositions and where we were going with with loyalty. Anyway, long story short, that room represented over half a billion dollars worth of business travel.

So a great opportunity for our executives to get in front of the those groups who travel most predominantly salespeople, these are all sales leaders, and really kind of worked through the the output of that session. And it was was a phenomenal session. I think everyone participated. Great. But it shows something it should cast the light on this idea that you guys have been talking about with the insider nation around Productitis. You know, that real belief that the features and the functions of the product, which in this case is a hotel, really have more meaning or more value for our customers for our customers experience than than what the sales relationship is really providing. And so I'm really saying that those executives kind of came in and they nodded their heads, they listened. And then they exited stage left. And

Scott Santucci 09:00  

it was those executives You mean the executives within IHG? Correct?

Unknown Speaker 09:05  

Right? That's correct. Yeah. I think it was the guy who ran loyalty to the brand leaders ran upscale brands. And it was a it was a an eye opening experience. For me. It was an eye opening experience for the team of people that I had brought in on my team, whether we're speaking marketing or sales enablement teams, and then we actually had sellers come in as well, and sellers who are actually aligned to the accounts that are representative. So a great a great experience and a great learning for me. A lot of different

Scott Santucci 09:42  

levels. to Brian, I'm getting fired up. Because you're making me remember and I know you're holding me at gunpoint making me remember right like it's Yeah, but I am remembering that situation. We should probably do a whole podcast just on that but go through each part.

Unknown Speaker 10:00  


Scott Santucci 10:02  

people in loyalty just kept asking questions about loyalty and how it didn't connect at all with

Unknown Speaker 10:08  

like, yeah, yeah, they want to have a points conversation,

Scott Santucci 10:12  

right? What are you talking about? What do you mean? What

Unknown Speaker 10:14  

are you talking about here?

Brian Lambert 10:16  

And there's a couple of things on this. Like, there's the whole idea of just bringing these folks together, which I think a lot of our listeners would be intrigued by, like, how did you actually pull that off? And then there's the what happened in the room? Yeah,

Unknown Speaker 10:28  

yeah. Yeah, there's, and there's also it would probably be great to have one of the other attendees come to it too. Because I think there were two perspectives of the folks that came into the room, there was, Hey, I'm, I'm coming. I'm going to help Brian. But I actually have the same challenges that Brian's got with value propositions or with, let's call it loyalty or retention of our clients or, or what have you. And so I can wrap my head around me helping Brian is actually helping myself. And then there were other folks in the room who were like, no one sent me the memo on this, or I didn't understand what's happening. I'm just here helping Brian, like, I really would prefer to maybe engage in a different way. And in this, so I think there are there are so many different perspectives and layers of how that meeting down that Yeah, we could totally do an entire.

Scott Santucci 11:18  

So Alright, well, let's do this. We're gonna call out so we're gonna, we're gonna I'll reach out to Greg and Samir. Yeah. And let's try to recreate that that magic a year later. Let's see what happens. But the purpose of this is, is your reactions to the last of our commercial, commercial enablement seminar series. Before we get into that, can you introduce and tell folks about how you ran or runs, run sales in a month, a little bit about your department, your your game plan and how you did it?

Unknown Speaker 11:55  

Yeah. So I, in my last position, which is with hp, which I left about a year ago, I ran global sales operations enablement,

Scott Santucci 12:07  

I want to hold off on Wait, before we do that, when I mention a qualifier, there is no correlation between Brian leaving in this meeting that we had, I just want to make sure that correlation doesn't exist, there's other factors go on.

Unknown Speaker 12:21  

That's true. That's very true. And so I came into the organization and I was winning strategic accounts, and I had some other aspects to my role. And, you know, the system was broken. The, the dots were not being connected on the inside of, from everything, from analytics, to operations, to process, to engagement with legal and other business partners. The technology that was there was fragmented, we had over 29 different product technology products that we used in the world of sales, which was bizarre to me. And ultimately, what I did is I ended up taking an internal position, because I wanted to kind of start to sort all of that out. And in doing that, we had to centralized specific parts of the team of teams where maybe analytics have been regionalized, for, you know, Greater China and for the Americas or Europe. It was really bringing all of those together as centers of excellence, which I'm not really a fan of that term. But who says you're Excellent. So I am, I would give

Scott Santucci 13:38  

myself labeling. Yeah, I mean, I could bring my own exercise, right.

Unknown Speaker 13:43  

Yeah. So but but really centralizing a lot of these functions that we're having pregnant for a long time. So the team grew to about 200 people across eight different countries. That really was set to enable the global sales organization. And we developed a really a vision statement with the leaders as I brought everyone together. I said, Well, what is our purpose was our mission here. And we we said, you know, it's really to unlock the value of sales. So when you guys talk about value, and without clear clarifying value, and how that's really not rocket science is you're right, it doesn't have to be. And what we did is we make sure everyone can see themselves in that mantra every single day, that regardless of whether they were working in the technology area, or if they were working operations or effectiveness or training or you name it, they were they were all contributing to unlocking that value so that our sales people could do what they needed to do best. So and help simplify and make things seller ready for the sales teams because we had so many different parts of the organization. burdening them with their own agendas and we kind of became The stock app to prevent that from happening. And with design and simplify, in order to help release that burden from salespeople reduce the workflow or just the number of approvals reduce the produce all of the internal stuff that our customers don't care about. Because they, they don't need to hear from the salesperson, it's gonna take another week and a half to get the contract, when they're waiting for it. The holdup is on our and we should be able to move in a much more agile pace. So anyway, so we had that organization out. And I'm really aligned each of my direct reports to their to their most relevant business partner in the organization, whether it was finance or it or HR, HR for training and effectiveness and talent. For for, for all of our technology with it was our product management teams, etc. So, um, and as we've created those partnerships, a lot of the, the business partners were like, Well, wait a minute, why are you doing training and sales when we have a training learning department, we, we feel like you're kind of getting in our space. And we spend a lot of time saying, actually, we can do this together. And this was really, when orchestrating things really started for us, we can actually bring this together, you can still have a role in all of this.

But we're the subject matter experts in sales, you're the subject matter experts and adult learning, let's actually combine those two things, and figure out how we do this together and weave our agendas or priorities together, when we did that across a number of fronts. So when I met Scott, it was through that corporate executive board. And I thought, I thought organization was kind of like the last to the party on this. And so when I first met Scott, I was very kind of quiet in terms of what we would have been able to accomplish that he and, and this concept of orchestration, and really come to the forefront of my mind on Well, that's what we were doing. And Scott would talk about this was you call your unconscious, your unconscious,

Scott Santucci 17:15  

unconscious competence?

Unknown Speaker 17:17  

Yes. And every time I would talk about something that you'd say, well, there's that unconscious competence. And so it became more and more evident that what we were doing was really starting to orchestrate the enterprise around how to more effectively enable salespeople at every step of the buying journey. And, and that's kind of that's just a little bit about what I was doing. And he, um, and so I guess, I have to say, um, you know, thinking about this goes to customer webinar that, that we just

Scott Santucci 17:56  

let me let me go produce that that topic gives some space. So okay, as a list or sort of digest that I want you to sort of imagine this is what Brian's doing. This is how he's running in his organization help you level set about the scope and scale of what he's working on. So I asked, I asked Brian, hey, you want to do a podcast and react to our go to customer? webinar? So as you know, we've we've asked other people to do that. So I don't know anything? He may hate it. I have no idea. So um, hopefully he does. He doesn't hate it. But I asked him to come up with three thoughts. But I think it's important that you, as a listener, have a frame of reference of where he's where he's coming from. Yeah, thank you.

Unknown Speaker 18:44  




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