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Ep57 Message Enablement in a Post-COVID World with Louis Jonckheere
Episode 5715th September 2020 • Inside: Sales Enablement • Scott Santucci, Brian Lambert, Erich Starrett
00:00:00 00:49:46

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Are you embracing real-world reality? What is the impact of change on your customer’s conversations right now?

Think about it: Are best practices really going to help you move forward when those practices were built and defined before COVID? Who really KNOWS the customer today and what are you going to do about it?

Join Louis Jonckheere - President and Co-Founder of Showpad, a leading sales enablement messaging platform - as he talks about the ingredients of successful message enablement initiatives, the buy-in required to get results, and what it takes to gain a broader perspective – to elevate and improve messaging. He also talks about what it means to be customer-centric in a COVID-impacted world.

Topics include:

  • Why perspective matters
  • The evolution of the sales enablement market
  • Using technology to improve the quality of sales conversations
  • Being a leader with the courage to act and engage
  • The impact of COVID on “Best practice”
  • What it means to be customer-centric

Additional Resources:


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, we're 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 and I've worked on over 100 different kinds of sales enablement, issues as analysts, consultants or practitioners. We've learned the hard way, what works and maybe what's more important, what doesn't

Brian Lambert 01:00  

Right now our focus is on you as a sales enablement leader and orchestrator who operates in the in the gap between strategy and tactics and was blend those together to drive outcomes. Our goal is to help you clarify what works and also clarify the measures of success so you can engage up down and across your organization. As always, we start with a centering story, Scott, what do you have for us?

Scott Santucci 01:24  

Okay, well, here's our centering story. Have you ever heard of Gregor Johann Mendel?

Brian Lambert 01:31  


Scott Santucci 01:33  

Well, if you were in the genetics business, you would definitely would know who this is. Gregor Johann Mendel was actually a friar, a church friar,

Brian Lambert 01:45  

Like Robin Hood,

Scott Santucci 01:47  

from the Augustinian sect. And between 1856 and 1863. He did a lot of experiments with pea plants, pea plants and what he would do is he would observe these pea plants, I guess when you're, I guess when you're a friar, you have to do a lot of soul searching and maybe you're not allowed to talk. So you occupy yourself with making good observations and the like. But what he would do is he would watch his pea plants grow, and he would chart make lots of very detailed observations on plant height, their shape and their color, the shape of the seed and the color of the seeds, their flowering positions in color. And I bet an 1856 a lot of people thought this guy was crazy what the heck are you doing, that's a lot of data to be collecting about stuff that's growing. But the major, the major aha that happened here was towards the end, he made this observation that when he would pair or mate, bring together pea plants that had yellow seeds, versus ones that had green seeds 100% of the time. The ones with the Yellow seeds would be the ones that were dominant. So they would produce more and more yellow seeded pea plants.

So that was pretty interesting. He came up with this idea of recessive and dominant traits of based of an observation. And that work didn't get picked up for 30 years later. And then what happened then is that became the boom of what we now know is genetics. And today that's gone so far is that a pharmaceutical company can take can extract an enzyme from you, Brian, and they own the intellectual property of that because they've done the extraction even though you're you biologically produced it. That's how far we've come with genetics in a relatively short, short timespan. And we have this guy, Gregor Johann Mendel, who made lots and lots and lots of observations to help us through that.

Brian Lambert 03:52  

There you go. That's awesome. And I think friars are also the ones that came up with beer but I'm not sure maybe they came through the same process of Lots and lots and lots of trial and error. But I got to ask you, so what?

Unknown Speaker 04:06  

So what!?!!

Brian Lambert 04:09  

So what does that have to do with sales enablement?

Scott Santucci 04:12  

So so why would that has to do with today's theme and today's Today's topic is really where is sales enablement heading. And we have this belief inside businesses to follow best practices, and we rarely question where those best practices come from. So we have a tendency to repeat the same things over and over and over again and there's a quote that I love from Mark Twain. It ain't what you don't know that gets you in trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so. So with that, what we want to highlight and I'm interested, I'm really excited to share with our special guest is, as most of our listeners know, we've taken on the biggest amount and the most in depth post COVID research about where sales where sales enablment is going, as you know, we did over 100 surveys, we interviewed 43 people. We've done six panel conversations, all of which you can go back and listen to today and watch those observations from the plants and how things are growing. And we've done four high quality webinars. And what I'm what I had the luxury to do is I got the chance to interview several of the CEOs of the leading technology companies and joining us is Louie, I'm not even going to try to pronounce your last your last name you can do it for us who's the president and founder of Showpad, Louis, would you care to introduce yourself?

Louis Jonckheere 05:36  

Absolutely, Scott and thanks for inviting me for this podcast so it's Louis Jonckheere, but it's it's I mean, it's impossible to pronounce in English. It's "john care" is fine. But But yeah, I mean, I have a running joke in the company with our with our team in the US that if they pronounce my name correctly, they get access to president's Club by default and so far, that never happened. So, but great to be here. So Founder and President of Showpad started the company a bit over nine years ago. I mean, we've been in the market have seen sales enablement evolve from very small tactical program in a sales or marketing organization to becoming a real platform for change in revenue and the market today so super excited to be here.

Scott Santucci 06:20  

I'm excited to

Brian Lambert 06:21  

have Sorry to interrupt but I got it as is so as Louis is he a pea plant or what is he on this analogy that you've brought in?

Scott Santucci 06:29  

He's a fellow friar,

Brian Lambert 06:31  

He's a fellow friar. Okay, awesome.

Scott Santucci 06:34  

I'd never call a guest but as a fellow friar, what we wanted to connect the dots to is having been a participant in that research. What was really great about Louis is just how engaged he got in the process, and how fun our conversations have been and it's so rare for any, any market to get the perspective Have a seat have a executive leader, president of a company. And what we have to keep in mind is think of the things that that Louie has to keep in mind. He's got investors, he's has to make happy, which of course want more money from you. He's got customers that he needs to make happy. And he needs to think about what what the products and services, the combinations of products and services are that are needed. And we really connected a lot in terms of the research process and really identified that there's a really fantastic opportunity for a sales enablement to lead some some big transformations. And that's that's really the conversation or the connection point that that I wanted to share. So with that, as a segue, we have a few talking points to get into. Louis. So what did you think of the post COVID research that we did? Why were you so engaged with it?

Louis Jonckheere 07:56  

Yeah, I mean, because I think there's some first of all I like I think any any industry needs solid research to understand what's happening and where trends are going. So So research is super important. I think, given the current times anything, there's like two big events that are coming together. I think on the one hand, you obviously have the pandemic, who really changed drastically how businesses think about engaging their customers about how they go to market about their value proposition. So I think on the one hand that is really shaking up the world and businesses as we know it, so it's a perfect timing, to understand or to research, what what changes is triggering and because there's definitely change out there in the market, but like, what is it exactly, and I think measuring that researching that is super important. And then secondly, I think specifically to sales enablement. Like we already we're at the point where like sales enablement is undergoing a drastic transformation and I think what a COVID definitely showed is our strengths, the weaknesses and the opportunities For sales enablement as we know, and so taking that perspective, your research is extremely important for discovery.

Scott Santucci 09:07  

So one of the things then is to put some context around that. Do you think that COVID was in upon itself, an event to respond to, or did this highlight and exasperate fundamental changes that were already occurring and it just exposed them?

Louis Jonckheere 09:26  

It exposed, for example, it exposed how badly organized revenue organizations are in companies and exposed how board messaging is of many companies out there it exposed how bore alignment there is between sales and marketing service and customer success organization. So I think it highlighted what many of us already were seeing. And I think it's overall a really good thing for this industry. But yes, it exposed what sales enablement is trying to or will eventually change.

Scott Santucci 09:57  

So I think that's really important because What Louis has the luxury of being able to do is to look at a market in its, in its totality, like in a wholeism standpoint. And most of our listeners work inside companies. So we work in individual departments. So we see maybe different colored glass of the stained glass window, and Louis has the opportunity to see the entire stained glass window. And he's got, you know, individual customers to highlight to. So if if the sales enablement market is going through a shape shake up or transformation, or whatever you want to call it, what do you see? Let's give some descriptors to that. Let's make it more tangible.

Louis Jonckheere 10:42  

Absolutely. I mean, if you look at sales enablement, in the last I would say like, like 10 years, I think that about 10 years ago, that's when the term sales enablement practice started to become a thing. I would say like like to just simplify it either started from a marketing team or Content team saying like, Hey, we need to have a better way to deliver content to a sales team to make them more productive. Or it came from a training department that said, like, Look, we need to make our sales training much more tailored. It's much more micro much more effective. And, and lots of companies out there if you ask them what sales enablement is, and most of the scenarios, you will either hear a golden story, or you will hear a training story. And that is, how it how it evolved, or how it started studying. And in the last 10 years, I think we're now seeing a change happening. And I think like that is exactly what COVID highlights.

I mean, for a customer, there's no sales per customer. There's no marketing team. There's no services team. There's the company they're doing business with. And I think we're going to see with sales enablement that it is not going to start from "hey, I want to solve a content problem" or "I want to solve a training problem." No, it's about making sure that you can have as many qualitative engagements orchestrated with your customer as possible that really drive growth that drive success and I think the big change we're going to see is that sales enablement will start from the customer. And I have a strong belief that that sales enablement platform that sales enablement technology should start with listen to what the customer is saying. And a lot of the engagement we have today is virtual and virtual meetings, email, virtual collaboration. And I think if marketing, if sales enabled the screening messaging, if they're creating content, that it all starts with building that message, building that content based on real customer conversations, I think there's a lot of opportunity for organizations to start to craft their value propositions, their messaging their content, in a very strong way on what they hear from customers. And then in the past, I mean, this has been a huge challenge and a lot of companies talked about this right. Like you asked me the question in one of our first conversations, like, who really knows the customer? Yeah, yeah, very little executives out there own the customer and like not many companies truly understand what their customers is saying. So, remember that was a great discussion we had Scott.

Scott Santucci 13:03  

Yeah, I and I wish that this were a video so that we could show the whiteboarding that we definitely get into but let me help paint a picture a mental picture if you're listening. Yes. So I love let's, let's start start with the origin. So 10 years ago, so the origin story of our hero's journey, right? A sales enablement, professional starts off as, hey, you've been tapped on the back to go fix something broken. These are my words. This is the way that I describe it. It's very similar to the way Louis depicted it, which is, Hey, I'm tapping on the shoulder, something's broken. And we're going to fix a misalignment between say sales and human resources that typically deals around with training, probably onboarding, or learning how to sell the value, something like that. Another top on the shoulder is it's in marketing, and, boy, we're really frustrated that no salespeople aren't using our wonderful content, let's create a mechanism, sort of a cable set box, if you will, for programming to distribute all that content.

So it evolved in a very tactical way. Now we fast forward to 2020. And COVID has exposed a lot of synapse problems that we've been glossing over, because our organizations are so siloed. And our customers that we're selling to, particularly with b2b and broad product portfolios, don't really care about our silos. They don't care about marketing, they don't care about sales, they don't care about they want results. And they want Wait, they want you to combine the various capabilities that you've got into something that's more valuable. So that's, that's something that we see. And I think we really, we really bonded a lot on that. So that's sort of the history part.

Are we on the same page there I want to get to the next part, which is, what is customer centric centered, really mean? 

Louis Jonckheere 15:00  

I mean, we're definitely on the same page. And I mean, I think good customer centricity for me means that I think, first of all, I starting to understand like, like high level how the customer has changed, right? Like in general, what are their expectations when they're engaging with the company. And I think one of the the keywords that I mean, we've been talking about, which show that over the last eight, nine years, like customers are looking for convenience, it needs to be easy to do business with you, it needs to be valuable to engage you need to learn something, I think, and that's interesting when it didn't, and we're going to highlight this in our transform customer conference, in October is empathy is going to be something customers are also increasingly going to demand from the companies they engage with. And I think like that is definitely something that COVID that definitely surfaced, so convenience, value, empathy, and you need to enable your commercial organization to deliver that at scale. And that's really where where sales enablement Revenue enablement growth enablement, wherever you want to call it as well.

Scott Santucci 16:03  

So this is where I want us to start walking really slow together. So I agree with everything that that Louis shared. I think the difficulty that we have is step number one, and this is what Louis is going to do a great job of focusing on for us is, let's make sure that we have the right technical platform that can pull many of these content assets together, that can be mass configured based on the need that the salesperson identifies to match with a scenario of a customer. Right, that's sort of like a technical design that somebody needs to have instead of just buying piecemeal, individual parts. Is that fair, Louis? Because I want to get into some of the other parts, but I'll just make sure that I'm speaking for you correctly.

Louis Jonckheere 16:50  

Yeah, I mean, absolutely. I would say like one of the key pillars of sales enablement is really that as an organization, you have the technology that allows sellers to access extremely easily find the stuff they need to engage with the customer gives them the tools to personalize and ultimately deliver value to the customer. So like that is one of the firmaments of sales enablement. Absolutely.

Scott Santucci 17:12  

Yeah. So one of the things that we've got to...



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