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Ep38 State of SE Panel 6: Executive Sponsors
Episode 3813th May 2020 • Inside: Sales Enablement • Scott Santucci, Brian Lambert, Erich Starrett
00:00:00 01:11:48

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Welcome to the Inside: Sales Enablement Podcast, Episode 38

Ever wonder what executive sponsors talk to about to Senior Leaders? Wonder why Sales Enablement gets funding in some organizations and doesn't in others? What about the skills and competencies of sales enablement leaders?

In this last panel of our State of Sales Enablement Research, Scott and Brian pull together an amazing panel of the executive sponsors chartering sales enablement functions to hear their take.

On this panel, we have:

  1. Brian King, Managing Director King Consulting prior VP of Sales Enablement at Intercontinental Hotel Group
  2. Sameer Rupani, SVP Sales & Marketing at Solvay
  3. Greg Peelman, VP Operations at EcoLab

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.


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 Sam Tucci and Trailblazer Brian Lambert as they take you behind the scenes of the birth of an industry, the inside sales enablement podcast starts now. I'm Scott.

Brian Lambert 00:35  

I'm Brian Lambert and we're the sales enablement insiders.

Scott Santucci 00:39  

Hello insider nation. We have the last and maybe the most impactful panel of our series studying the future of sales enablement. Just as a brief reminder on May 19, we're having our executive briefing presenting all of our findings, visit www dot Inside se calm to register for it again inside register may 19, for our executive briefing of our findings, so the findings of what, as many of you know, we've conducted a survey of sales enablement practitioners, we were hoping to get 25 responses. We got 70. We now have 99 responses actually we got 70 within a week, there is no way one person can process it all that information or even two so we've created a guest analyst program and asked a leading experts have been doing this for quite some time to chime in on it. We have been doing several panels so just as a review, our first panel with with sales enablement experts. The second panel that we ran was with sales leaders. The third panel that we ran was with sales practitioners who do not have it at learning and development background.

Our fourth panel was with sales enablement leaders who Do have a learning and development background, then we follow that up with our its academic series or with our professors. And now finally, executive sponsors. So the people that we have here, I met and are all part of the Conference Board. And what that is, is you can go listen to one of our earlier podcasts, we just we talked about that before. What we've got here is an amazing panel of tremendous people. It's hard to describe our all of our relationships when you're in a group or a leadership council, where you're blending a lot of expertise. It's really it's a kind of hard to describe, so maybe we'll let we'll let them do it, but I'm gonna introduce them in order. So the first person that I'd like to introduce is Brian King. Brian King, most recently was the SVP of sales and operations at intercontinental hotels. One of the amazing things that we were able to do as affiliated to the Conference Board is we brought in a whole bunch of people More business travelers to help simulate for the people at IHG. What business travelers think of with the goal of making Brian look really good while testing out his sales enablement plan. I've been really excited to work with Brian. Brian is one of the most courageous people that I know. And I know a lot of courageous people. So if you get a chance to meet Brian or work with them or hire him or something, do it because not only not only is he courageous and smart, but he's a great guy as well. Brian, would you like to introduce yourself to inside our nation?

Brian King 03:33  

Yeah, thank you, Scott. It's great to be with you and Hello, insider nation. I look forward to the time we're gonna spend together one of my favorite topics, sales enablement, and with a great group of guys on this podcast, so

Scott Santucci 03:47  

great to be here. Excellent. So up next, we have Samir Pani, who is the SVP of sales and marketing as Solvay, over here in in North America. This is one of the smartest guys in sales. I know he's a chemical engineer. And it's really fascinating to watch this man brain work is definitely what you see is what you get kind of guy. I really enjoy how authentic is and I really love how he publishes how he's thinking. It is for me easy to follow along. He has tremendous amount of energy. I can't wait for everybody to get to know him, Samir, introduce yourself to insider nation. Hey, insider nation.

Samir Pani 04:31  

This is Samir. What's the most exciting Of course for me is to reconnect with that when you stop. And of course a great group of guys that served on the sales executive council alongside myself and for us to learn and share experiences together. So here's one more goal at the same and looking forward to it.

Scott Santucci 04:48  

Yeah, and hopefully we can keep this going. This is a fantastic team. And then finally bringing up the rear is Greg Gilman. Greg pillans, Vice President of Operations at eco labs. I gotta tell you, I'm a huge fan of Greg style. One of the things that he has this great ability to do is to process a lot of information. And there's a lot of different ways to talk about it. And he just says it for what it is in the most plain spoken executable way and it activates things moving forward. I think it's fantastic. I always get energized. I also love the kinds of pictures he shares with you at dinner. I got to make sure we qualify it they're not. Well let him say what, Greg, what are the kinds of pictures that you share with us at dinner? Why am I making this comment?

Greg Gilman 05:35  

Okay, Scott, this couldn't be with you today. And

Greg Gilman 05:38  

I do work for Ecolab. I'm the VP of operations for North American our pest elimination division. So it's an exciting business. I know the call that a long time across a lot of international geographies with international policies and of course here in North America, so great to be with you today and look forward to the discussion.

Scott Santucci 05:56  

So what about those pictures now? What kind of pictures will you share with us Dinner?

Greg Gilman 06:02  

Well, let's just say there may be a few photos of different scenarios that, you know, maybe you don't want to look at while you're eating dinner. And I happen to be a pest elimination. Of course, they're all anonymous. But you can imagine I can find myself in some pretty precarious positions occasionally.

Scott Santucci 06:18  

Yes. And as the benefactor of some of those pictures while I'm trying to eat if they're interesting, I'll tell you that, that's for sure. So starting off with we do the same format for our panels, we asked the open ended question. So I'm going to go through the same kind of order. I'm going to first ask you, Brian, having looked at the survey findings, what are a few things that stood out for you?

Brian King 06:41  

So for me after going through the initial set of findings and reading through some of the feedback from the survey, what I found interesting was really that the data is starting to lean more toward, I'd say an evolved understanding of what sales enablement is as a practice as it Discipline than where it was about 567 years ago when I first started to get involved with with sales. At the same time, you know, kind of counterpoint to that point, you can still see that there are folks who, you know, kind of believe, hey, sales enablement is really just sales training, or it's just onboarding or it's only about sales transformation. While it's graduating, and it's understanding, and probably the understanding of company's value of, of the sales enablement practice, there's still a lot of work to be done in terms of getting that value and that understanding kind of broadly accepted and understood.

Scott Santucci 07:39  

Excellent. Thank you, Brian. Samir, how about you? What were takeaways that stood out for you in looking at the survey findings?

Samir 07:46  

So the first one and that's just literally just scanning through the data is the fact that wherever you had two or more options are if you had two options, you had a bi modal distribution. If you had more options you had at least a tri modal So, what that tells me is, there's still a fundamental lack of clarity around what sales enablement is, and how it's supposed to actually operate. Is it supposed to be innovation? Or is it supposed to be operational excellence or, or commercial excellence? And I think when you want to look at the the popular media today around the whole concept of sales development in any form, you know, you don't have customer excellence in sales ops and sales enablement. And so I think there's been so much slicing and dicing of the sales onion that I'm not surprised that survey broad cross section of even commercial professionals, you get their particular tape. And then of course, what I thought was particularly humorous was there was actually one person who agreed with the fact that sales enablement was a fancy word for sale string, it sort of had me laughing out loud because it just kind of goes to show you the again, the breadth of understanding or even misunderstanding about what it is So hopefully, you're feeling a real need here with with a chance to kind of make clear what it is and how to best deploy it.

Scott Santucci 09:07  

Excellent. Thank you, Samir. Greg, how about you? I

Greg 09:11  

think what I noticed in the data, first of all, if you look at the distribution of people, everyone is more or less in sales enablement. So the answers you're gonna get from that is, is from a group that envisions it to be a certain way, not necessarily the people that are employing that group, which may give you a very, very different opinion. So, you know, if there's overwhelming response from the group saying, it's not on the decline, it hasn't peaked, yet. It's on the rise. That's 80%. Well, of course, if you're asking a bunch of people in charge of sales enablement, they're gonna say they're on the rise, right? And they're gonna say, we buy it right, not hold it or sell it. So I think a lot of the data probably led to where I thought it would end up given, given the set of people get as we kind of go through the discussion here today. I you know, I do think there would be a divergent opinion If we looked at your what what is it those individuals that are again employing them, the managers of those those people? What is it they're getting? What do they believe they should be getting?

Scott Santucci 10:09  

I think you get a very different picture here. Excellent. So that's perfect. So Brian, you get to comment. What are you? What are your thoughts on what your colleagues said?

Brian 10:19  

Yeah, I think well, just to piggyback off of what Greg has just said, when you think about who your customers are in sales enablement, it should always first and foremost be the sales organization. And in that organization, you'll have different types of customers, you'll have your actual field sales people, and you'll have your sales managers, then you've got your sales leadership team. And in each one of those, you'll have a different set of value drivers and enablers that you're going to need to deploy. And if you're doing that and an orchestrator way, it'd be great to see what their purview or what their perspective of whether or not sales enablement was a stock would you buy it, hold it, sell it short it you know, better off? Because I think in some instances, you may have sales leaders say, Yeah, absolutely, you're helping deploy new coaching opportunities for my managers growing their leadership skills on how to truly coach them be transactional with their sales teams, team members may say, I don't really need all that training, or I don't need a new planning tool to help me figure out what my goals are going to be. I just can do things the way that I want to do them. So depending on what audience you're talking to, I think you're going to get a wide variety different responses to questions like this in a survey. If you're looking at your core customer set as the sales organization, if you turn the other direction, and you look back at the rest of the company of the enterprise, it'd be interesting to see what how they would respond to some of these questions. It's true, you're going to get when you're when you're pulling an audience of people who are quote, unquote, in the same field and discipline, you're going to get a very biased point of view.

Scott Santucci 11:55  

So both Greg and you brought up the same thing. What do you think the answers were If you went around the horn and asked the sales leaders, what they think marketing, what they think other groups what they think, what would those answers be?

Unknown Speaker 12:10  

From my point of view, I think initially, it was like who is this group of people who think that they need to get involved in my area. And what I mean by that is sales enablement from ihcs point of view in the organization we created there was this inner connective tissue and, and muscular component that kind of connected sales to the rest of the organization. So we would work with it with the data teams, we would work with comp and Ben and on sales incentives, we would work with HR and learning and development on sales training. Previously, those groups had just said we're doing the things that we do the way we do them. And then sales enablement came along and said, We need your help and doing this very specifically in this way for sales. And you don't have necessarily the sales side subject matter expertise. So let's help you understand that. And then together, let's create a joint approach to doing something different and better for sales, which ultimately means for our customers, and then hope and then hopefully hopefully means for, for the organization and the company. That's a hard proposition in the beginning. But ultimately, I think if you were to go and survey those in those different functions now, three, four years after we started that push, you would have, say, 75% of them on hold it or buy it from a from a stock point of view. Excellent.

Scott Santucci 13:41  

So Samir, what was your reaction to your to your peers?

Unknown Speaker 13:46  

No, I mean, they, my expectation that we would we would look at it completely differently was completely met. Yeah. I mean, you know, and again, it speaks to the variety of the responses you got, as you know, Greg pointed out the fact that the majority of the respondents Word sales enablement professionals. But despite that, you had quite a variety of responses, meaning even even the folks within sales enablement, don't look at it the same way. And I think that reflects the difference in maturity and or the way in which it's deployed in every single organization. And so, I mean, really, perhaps one of the things you can get us to do through the course of this discussion, Scott is to unify, you got three very different takes on the on the subject right here at a sponsor level. And you know, if you could help us unify and rather healthy for the benefit of the audience, and I'd say that's value add right there.

Scott Santucci 14:40  

Well, thanks for escalating the expectations of my audience. Man. I appreciate that. That's helpful. All right, tough crowd. I thought that was funny. Greg, how about you what was your reaction to hearing from Brian and Samir about their take and how you processing it?

Unknown Speaker 14:56  

For the most part, I'm in agreement. I think what's interesting to me As I look into the data itself is where we are and where we want to be based on the questions are very different things. So I think one of the choices we could make about what a sales enablement to you was, you know, how we simplify our commercial system for salespeople and customers? Right? Well, the overwhelming response was actually people believe it to be the linchpin to helping us execute our sales transformation. So I absolutely agree with the second but I think most organizations find themselves in the first right so now the question to me becomes how do you What's that journey look like and how do you flatten the learning curve if you will to get there I you know, I really I really liked the way that this was put together and I would encourage you and your team as you continue to do this to solicit from again that next level up you know, as you talk about who should sales enablement report to I asked him pretty strong feelings on that one. But I would reach out to that group and marry the data together and see what it is. Because if you've got a group of sales enablers, however, you know, however that title finds itself to be constructed, I think it's one direction. And then this other group comes back and says, No, that's absolutely not what I think it needs to be, you know, the position can quickly devolve into one of the others was, which was a fancy word for sales training, right?

In the absence of value or true enabling people are going to think it's worth a couple of decades behind where we are now and where we're trying to go. I think a lot of people get hung up today. And it's important, but in data and information and thinking technology, while again, it is very important that we we transform ourselves into digital, it's not everything, right? It is a data point or a series of data points, but then we have to figure in the humanity behind what it is that we're trying to do. And how do we then enable professional salespeople across an organization are very different. You have the 10% or whatever number you want. Pick, we can argue if it's 20, there are always going to be top performers. You got 60 or 70. In the middle, right, you got the lower end. So who is it you want to reach? And what's the best way to do that? And I think getting those two groups together, and marrying that data up would make a lot of sense.

Scott Santucci 17:15  

Awesome. Great. It sounds like, let's focus on where we agree. It sounds like we agree that if we were to look at this data set five years ago, it's a lot more congealed, but yet not congealed enough. To really get behind as a as a true profession. Is that a statement that we can agree with?

Unknown Speaker 17:37  

Like, that's...



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