Ep15 Simplify the Sales Eco-System: A Story of PIP to Performance

Ep15 Simplify the Sales Eco-System: A Story of PIP to Performance

Welcome to the Inside Sales Enablement Podcast, Episode 15

Brian and Scott bring key issues to life, through the lens of a seller:

  • The burden on Salespeople
  • Customer buying journey and buyer enablement
  • What sellers must do to sell more

Scott shares real-life situations of his journey (very openly and honestly — you likely will not hear this kind of stuff from your sellers unless you have deep personal relationships with them). He talks about his journey from selling products to selling solutions to executives. 

The story starts off with a lot of excitement and thrill about doing something new but, by doing what he was told and taught – Scott found himself on a PIP (performance improvement plan).

Join us at https://www.OrchestrateSales.com/podcast/ 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 00:35

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 00:50

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? And maybe more importantly, what doesn’t.

Brian Lambert 01:06

Our podcast is different. We use a conversational format to help share the experiences that only people have been there done that can provide, as we have been pushing the envelope on the profession for over a decade. And today, in this show, we will discuss what does the seller’s experience really look like? Is your system set up to help sellers be successful? And what does an integrated enabling program look like? As usual, we start with a centering story to give our episode a theme. So, Scott, take it away from here.

Scott Santucci 01:41

Thank you, Brian. And Hello, everybody. One of the things that we get the opportunity to do and as more and more of you users, we’re calling you inside our nation, keep listening. We get more and more feedback and I had had the opportunity to have a conversation with one of our If one of our listeners, I’m going to try not to out too much about her, because I’m sure this is embarrassing. And we were talking and one of the things that she was saying is that sometimes some of the things that I say, you know, make her feel stupid. And you know, are you an academic person? And Brian, you know, full well, boy, I hate being called academic, but maybe sometimes the way that I think about things and talk about them in that way. Yeah, you deserve it. Thanks. Thanks. I appreciate solidarity there, Brian. Just kidding.

Brian Lambert 02:35

It’s an interesting thing.

Scott Santucci 02:37

One of the things is, uh, this topic is such a hard thing. It’s it’s both simple and easy as as we like to talk about sales. It’s both fit sales is simple, but simple and easy. And one of the things that I’d like to share this time is to talk about what makes me so passionate about sales enablement. And actually, one of the things that I’d like to share is a story from when I was in the field. So, we’re going to go back in the way, way way back machine, the company at the time I was working at at Mehta group. And in our third episode, we actually talked about how I built a sales enablement function there. But this is before even that, and I’m

Brian Lambert 03:20

actually, because you you actually came out of the field you were a seller before that. That’s right, that’s created in that episode. So, this is actually is that going to be the story when you were a seller?

Scott Santucci 03:30

Exactly. It’s pretty cool. So the this story isn’t, isn’t really that great. It doesn’t put me in the in the greatest light, but as a seller, we’ve just gone through sales training, and specifically it was solution selling training. And if you’ve seen the movie, Jerry Maguire, where Jerry wrote that letter, that memo out, everybody was really really excited. I was really, really excited at the time. We were selling the subscription services. So meta group is been acquired by Gartner group. So, if you could imagine buying reports, and we would sit there and be trying to talk about what the deliverables are, here’s our service. Here’s our ssms service or GNS service, here are the five things that you do here, deliverables about it, you get these deliverables, and you get this teleconferencing. You get these conference tickets, and blah, blah, blah. So, if that’s what we were talking about, who do you think that I was selling to? I was selling people up like a guy named Mark fleischman, who actually was at bellcore. And his job was more or less a librarian. He would meet me in the cafeteria with me. He wouldn’t even bring me in I would even get the code to get in. Right. That’s That’s how low level and we debate about how many license fees and what the what the the usage was, and we would haggle between $15,000 For $16,000 about what the renewal was for that particular service. That was a rough and it sure as heck wasn’t what I thought was was selling. I walked out of this solution selling training, and I’m excited. I’m gonna go and learn to go talk to executives. That’s, that’s what I was gonna do. So, my primary focus was, I’m gonna go talk to executives. So, think about it going all in how you drank the Kool Aid, you’re excited. I really drank the Kool Aid. I, I was a process zealot. At the time. I thought the solution selling thing was fantastic. I drank the Kool Aid, I went all in. That’s good. Yes, it is good. So, the first thing that I did, at the time, my territory was the state of New Jersey. And the very first opportunity that I got, I decided you know what I’m going to do? I’m going to go call on the CIO at Merck. And literally This is no joke the the CIO at Merck’s name was Dr. Popper.

Brian Lambert 06:02

So, you’re gonna go from the library and eating a salad with a librarian to calling Dr. popper, the CIO at Merck.

Scott Santucci 06:10

Well, yeah, of course, right. That’s what they wanted us to do in the training, right.

Brian Lambert 06:14

That’s a transformative experience right there.

Scott Santucci 06:16

Well, we’ll talk about that. So, I called up and I left a voicemail message. I can’t remember exactly what it was. I went to lunch. I’m feeling pretty good. I come back, I see that I have a couple voicemails on my machine. I’m excited. Because Dr. popper is obviously gonna invite me back in so I can give him my pitch and all the solution selling stuff is great. Well, actually, on my voicemail, there were three voicemails, all of them were from Merck. None of them were from Dr. popper. And they were progressively more agitated, threatening, almost. And this is no lie, saying that I’m just a vendor. I’m not to talk to you. Good call on Dr. Dr. popper. I was gonna say Dr. Pepper doctor. And if you ever do this again, we’re going to make sure that you don’t sell anything to Merck ever again.

Brian Lambert 07:12

Dang. So that when only did you get one call? You got three calls back there just a little threatening.

Scott Santucci 07:18

That’s right. So, I’d love to be able to tell you what awesome heroic thing that I did to be able to recover from that situation. But that wouldn’t be the truth. The truth is, I said, screw it. I’m packed up my things. I went home. I shut the shades of my apartment at the time.

Brian Lambert 07:39

getting weird

Scott Santucci 07:41

I put on Free Willy and I just watched Free Will because I wanted to feel happy because I felt so small. I didn’t call on a on a CIO again for a while. I went back to the RA Fleischmanns again, Michael fleischman again until finally, I Got my courage up again. So, my next time was, I said, all right, dust that off, you know, shake it off scotch shake it off, Scott, you still believe in that solution selling stuff. So, the next bat the next time I went after this was before Campbell soups moved their headquarters and their headquarters was in was in New Jersey. So, I called on the CIO of, of, of Campbell’s soups and honest I can’t even remember his name. And Brian had he did you see the movie Wall Street? Uh,

Brian Lambert 08:30

yeah, a long time ago, though, ya know, so, the Wayback Machine.

Scott Santucci 08:34

All my references are so David, I’m clearly not a millennial. But in Wall Street, there’s this scene where bud Fox, the main character, Charlie Sheen, gets his meeting with Gordon Gekko. And how did he get his meeting with Gordon Gekko? Do you remember?

Brian Lambert 08:53

No, I don’t tell us.

Scott Santucci 08:54

He called Gordon Gekko every day for like 80 days. in a row and showed up it is showed up the day of Gordon Gekko his birthday with a box of cigars. Oh, that’s right. Gordon Gekko finally let him in. Well, you know, I’d seen that movie and I swear to God, I literally called this guy for 60 days straight till finally I got him on the phone. And every single time I left a voicemail so he you know, he kind of knew me. I would highlight research where I thought our research was better than Gartner’s because I knew he was a big Gartner shop. And I just call kept calling kept calling. And lo and behold, one of those days he actually answered the phone. What did I do? What happened?

Brian Lambert 09:43

You froze up

Scott Santucci 09:44

That Yeah, exactly. I would love to tell you an awesome story about I had this great rap and I you know, got a meeting with them. Nope. I kind of went uhh and he was nice about it. Scott, you’ve been pretty persistent. Can you Please tell me how you’re different than gardener? And then I fumbled through some words. You know, it was sort of like a word salad of a bunch of things that I had heard or that we’ve been talking about. And he said, Well, I gave you my ear time. Will you please stop calling me now? And I went yep. So, opportunity number two. I do, I went back down to sell into the sound of the cubicle people.

Brian Lambert 10:31

All right. No, Free Willy. No Free Willy tune.

Scott Santucci 10:34

Okay, so fast forward now. Now, you know, maybe two, two months later, I had worked on an opportunity and I built a I was able to get access to this guy named Keith Kebel. Keith Kebel, at the time, was the VP of shared services at Bristol Myers Squibb. I knew that he had he had responsibility for a budget It was $50 million. So good access right, access to adult money. And at the time they were, they were implementing SAP. And they had the Cooper’s the Cooper’s team in there, and we were talking about how now I’m getting more into a rap about what our products do, and our products are you should be thinking about our products like an insurance policy because who knows what the risk of a bad decision could be? And I had told them about like, what would happen if Hershey if you know you’ve heard about the Hershey incident where they had an SAP challenge, and they weren’t able to ship candy? What would happen to you if you did that? So, all you have to do is buy our you know, our particular service or X number of dollars is like a decision-making insurance policies that all sounded great, invited us in. And really what what the goal was, I didn’t really know what the goal was. And I didn’t ask I said, Oh, yeah, awesome, like as excited. Sure. So, I brought my brought my subject matter expert, Barry wildermann and with me, and the two of us show up and there were 20 of them. Because this is such a big deal. And they started using a lot of language that I had no idea what these people were talking about, honestly, there was like words like, release and instance and things like that. I had no idea what they were. And I just wrote the keywords down when we were leaving in the parking lot to get back in the car. So, what happened in that meeting? Barry, how did it go? He said it went great. And he listed off three or four problems that they they were going to have. So, I was like, super great. So, I called Keith back the next day. Hey, Keith Baba had a great relationship. How did it go? He’s like, it was great. You know, that was a great meeting. Thank you very much. And I said, see you’re ready to do business with us. I’m getting ready to close on my solution sale. Brian. How did that go? He said, Well, Scott, you kind of confirm that we’re on the right track. Well, Barry says you’re gonna have problems. What are they?

Brian Lambert 13:08

Barry says you got problems.

Scott Santucci 13:13

And I said, Uh, I don’t know, you want to get them back on the phone. And at that point in time, I lost all my credibility. Yeah, you’re never able to get Keith Kebel on the phone ever again. So here I’m here I’m at six months into my solution selling experience. How do you think I was performing? What would my overall numbers like?

Brian Lambert 13:40


Scott Santucci 13:41

Yeah. Dude, I was on a pip. Yeah, so.

Brian Lambert 13:48

So, you had these at bats. You’re trying to do what the company says. And your manager puts you on a pip.

Scott Santucci 13:55

Yeah, yeah, I was gonna talk about that later. So, I was on a pip, and we could talk about what our plan was. I was on a pip. So now I’m like, oh my goodness, I’m worried about losing my job. I certainly wasn’t, you know, killing it. As a rep I was about at Target about it plan, maybe 80% when I was selling to the selling products to the Fleischmanns, but my, my, my cubicle pipeline was all gone because as you know, it takes a lot of energy and a lot of effort to try to build relationships with with the executives. But thank goodness. And I sort of had this come to Jesus moment with myself saying what the heck just just be you. So, thank goodness I’ve been building a relationship with with one of the CIOs. So, the way j&j is organized was is around these sectors, and I built a relationship with one of the with one of the CIOs and one of the sectors and I’ve been talking with him about the idea of an insurance policy but About one product, but across all of our all of our products. I talked a lot about decision making. I said why don’t we facilitate a meeting of your direct reports and one thing led to another and suddenly, things started clicking in and with a with a company, so large and so many different, so many different IT leaders. I, at the end of the year, I had done $3 million, a business with with Johnson and Johnson. So, I’d done basically, three x what what my quota was, and that’s one of the reasons that I became one of the top reps. Let’s try it from writing all the business of the story that we talked about in the second part.

Brian Lambert 15:44

So, solution selling did work.

Scott Santucci 15:46

Well see, I don’t know whether it did or didn’t because I didn’t really follow the solution selling script. I use some of the elements of it. Yeah, basically what I did was just get back to, you know, what problems do you have? Mr. CIO, well, we’re worried about making the wrong decisions. There’s a lot of choices with technology. Well, we have a lot of experts. Would you like to have experts on hand? That sounds great. How does that work? Well, let’s simulate how that works. Let’s let’s put it to use. And you know, because I kept working on helping them use it, they actually gave me a desk there. I actually had a badge that I will go in and my desk and when you’re there and you hear all the challenges, it’s kind of easy, right to sell, but it took building that relationship. It took forgetting a lot of the stuff that I that I learned in solution selling and focus more on the people. And that’s a that’s, that’s my story.

Brian Lambert 16:47

Cool. So, it started out with Dr. popper, then Free Willy, then Charlie Sheen and cigars. Then Bristol Myers Squibb with the insurance policy pitch. And then six months in you’re on a pip on a pip.

Scott Santucci 17:06

Yep, on a pip about ready to get fired.

Brian Lambert 17:09

Then you had your soul-searching moment you’re like screw it, I’m just going to be myself if I’m gonna get fired, I might as well go down just being true to myself. I can relate and then you know j&j conference meetings. And then that’s that’s how we ended up at that other podcast can’t remember the exact number but

Scott Santucci 17:27

Number three right yeah

Brian Lambert 17:29

yeah. So, they I mean and the cool thing about that is, um, it sounds like one you figured out how to get access to executives right?

Scott Santucci 17:40

Well, the hard way. Yeah. I mean, let’s let’s let’s, let’s be honest it would we want other people to learn that way?

Brian Lambert 17:49

No. Well, I mean, kudos to you a lot of people probably wouldn’t have been as committed. I mean, that’s what’s cool about that story is you were all in you know, you came out of that experience you hit the outlaw you know the I believe button.

Scott Santucci 18:04

Oh, you have no idea how many of my friends told me to not they would say that stuff is BS, you know look at look at that and look at our pipelines you know at least you know we’re not killing it either, but you know, at least money right like dude in my friends were what they thought they were watching out for me. So, I had that I had the internal talk track of not doing well. I had the my managers but my but and of course, when you’re on a pip, it’s not just your manager, right? You have a review with the VP of sales to

Brian Lambert 18:38

Because that’s when that’s when the help starts

Scott Santucci 18:40

The quote unquote, help.

Brian Lambert 18:43

Yeah. And you know, remember, remember in Episode 10, I’m looking at the list here. We talked about the five sales objectives. Let’s use that for our listeners here to structure this out a little bit. You know, in the first objective If you have to have, you know, a perspective, you have to bring a perspective to the buyer. Right. And you’ve got different perspectives here that you

Scott Santucci 19:13

Will the first the first objective is, who are we selling to? Do I need a commitment from selling from cubicle workers to executive offices?

Brian Lambert 19:25

Executives. And that shifted the problem from a librarian view to an executive lens and you tried the insurance policy perspective. You tried the Hey, wouldn’t it be nice to have decisions makers being influenced and experts at your beck and call, right? So, you tried different types of perspectives to those those people, those executives because they had different needs?

Scott Santucci 19:50

If you think about it, like, you’re just sort of reacting to what you’re saying, Brian, I would say that my go in perspective was for Dr. popper, boy, do I have a deal for you? You, you want Research Services, I’m ready to do discount

Brian Lambert 20:10

Here’s my number just call me back. Here’s my answering machine.

Scott Santucci 20:14

Yeah. And then then the next brilliant strategy is going after the CIO at Campbell Soup. I think my offer was, I got better research than the company that you’re all in on. Right? All you need, just give me that one thing and one report is going to that’s going to convince you right. Then the third one was I’m going to sell you one service 22 baby boomers $25,000 to protect you on one project. And your you run 50 you know you have a $500 million project or budget you might have more than one project. But I’m in with very narrow something very discreet. And if that doesn’t pan out, or if I’m not able to go backwards and forwards inside and outside. That’s not going anywhere. Either. Hey. Yep. And until ultras get any, we’re gonna provide decision making fuel. We’re gonna help help all of your executive lasers provide decisions, and I don’t need to zoom in details on any of it.

Brian Lambert 21:14

Right. So that’s that’s a that’s good. I mean, you, you figured out who they were. You tried different perspectives and angles to eventually do the second objective, which was to get access to those folks. Right? You tried the got it out. I’m gonna pound you on the phone all the way to the, Hey, tell me your problems. Tell me your challenges. Let’s talk about that. Right. So that’s cool. You figured that out? Yep. And then you had to have a third objective, you know, have a relevant meeting. So, you know, each one of those was different to it sounds like the first one. You know, with Dr. popper wasn’t a meeting at all. It was three, you know, phones. calls from legal or whatever,

Scott Santucci 22:01

I got it here they were procurement officials. So basically, the first one I got thrown out at first base, right executive level access.

Brian Lambert 22:09

Right. There you go.

Scott Santucci 22:12

The second one. Second one. I eventually got executive level access by bludgeoning the poor guy’s voicemail. Right. I got thrown out at second base, which was you tell me I didn’t have a successful meeting. Tell me how you’re different than Gardner. Whoa.

Brian Lambert 22:30


Scott Santucci 22:31

Yeah. The next one was the Bristol Myers Squibb one, I got thrown at it third. Because I wasn’t able to connect to shared vision of success. So okay, you know, you’ve confirmed for us we know what we’re doing here. I don’t know what to talk about. Man is basically where he’s coming from. Yeah. And I’m not but but you should buy us because you had a good meeting.

Brian Lambert 22:34

And and my subject matter experts said you got problems, but he’s not here right now. Okay.

Scott Santucci 22:53

And I have no idea what he said cuz I know you guys were talking about that old meeting. I’m not an SAP expert.

Brian Lambert 23:10

Right. Yeah. And then then the next one is, you know, the next sort of run. Yeah, you score the run which means you made that value tangible and they they close the deal but look at what it look at what it took with j&j. It took a it almost It was almost lost because you didn’t get the logo remember from Episode Three where we tried to have that meeting and you needed the logo and

Scott Santucci 23:33

That wasn’t lost. I was already secured by that I’d never okay get in Episode Three.

Brian Lambert 23:40

Right But she so you got that. So, you you pursued and you did a figure it out approach until you score the score the run, you know you got the got the deal. And that’s, that’s cool because when you figured it out to you where you hit the I believe, but not solution selling and you know, for our listeners, the reason why I wanted to go through that was you know, how many salespeople would you guys like to have that go through a training and just go all in and hit the I believe button and, you know, stiff arm their peers and, you know, believe it’s the right thing to do because the company tells you and that’s one. Two, you know it yeah, okay, fine it might be 20 years or, you know, 15 years or whatever in between. But, you know, I gotta tell you, this experience happens today. I mean, most if you’re driving right now, you’re probably shaking your head. This is the exact same challenge and that and the challenge actually comes down to that that magical moment where the person answers the phone and says, Okay, go, you know, what are you going to say?

Scott Santucci 24:44

Yeah, I say I share this this story when I’m invited to do sales kickoffs, before I talk about anything that might sound, you know, abstract or theoretical and the receptivity is palpable. And I think it’s because solution selling or what I did may as well be challenger selling or selling with curiosity or Sandler selling or Miller Heiman selling or value vision selling whatever the new sales methodology that you’re rolling out because you want your reps to sell, you don’t want them to sell the minions anymore to sell to the executives or if you’re selling from it to business people that shift as in the conference room when you’re making your plan sounds like it’s little well duh. But the reality of that shift, it’s so hard.

Brian Lambert 25:41

Yes, super hard. I mean, look, you got put on a pimp and I like to talk to your manager, and I have a bias toward the managers. I’m like, Where the hell is your manager and all this but that’s a whole separate podcast. But the last point I want to have is this idea of for you to be successful, you know, look, look at what that look what that is. It was, it was actually less about your solutions and more about the value or the help that your company could provide in the customers context around decision making, and in other words, it became about them and their success. And that’s how you got a desk there. Right? Yes. And I think that’s, that’s the key of today. And, you know, one of the things that I still do today and, and as a way to drive this point home because I’ve had discussions with execs and I’ve had discussions with reps and they say yeah, okay, you know, I’m fine This is a real thing. But no, this is palpable emotional like I’m at one here I’m like Free Willy’s man. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry cuz. But like, I’ve for 15 years I’ve been on this quest myself to find this the salesperson who can talk you know, two minutes about their their customers. And the only caveat that I have on this is you can’t talk about your product yourself or your company for two minutes, you have to talk about your customer, and the challenges that they have for two minutes. And I, everybody says they can do it. And I would challenge our listeners, go go do it yourself. And see if you can talk about your company’s customers for two minutes without talking about your solution, your your own products, your solutions, your yourself or your company. And sellers have that same gap. And I think that’s, that’s what I’m seeing here. I’m having this visceral reaction. Scott was you, you know, you you had to fight the system, so to speak, and you hit the I believe button, you had to come up with your own message that was all about your customer, and then come up with a creative solution around helping your customers successful, almost in spite of your company.

Scott Santucci 27:50

Well, I think that’s that’s the key point. Actually, you made several key points. So let me summarize some of them. So, one point is my Observation today is in general, we’re pushing our sales, sales reps out. There’s a lot of focus on improving our sellers. Let’s train up our sellers. Let’s get our salespeople to do this they don’t do that. Let’s throw more stuff at them. But really what we’re not doing is we’re not understanding what actually they have to go through. So, I guess it’s true. It would be great if I had more role playing with my sales manager, but that still wouldn’t cut it. Because all of the material that we had, Brian, everything that we had was based on our products, right. I didn’t make a conscious effort to be I basically rewrote all my own collateral.

Brian Lambert 28:48

Yeah. All the PIP worked out of desperation.

Scott Santucci 28:52

Well, I don’t know. I think I don’t think people I don’t think the pip we want to turn sellers into content creators. Yeah, what what got what got got home was, you mentioned, talking about value. I know, we don’t want this to go on longer than then give two minutes about our customers. But really, for the, you know, the CIO at j&j that I was working with, yeah, but really the the, the crux of the matter here is, I got it down to something very simple. That may sound abstract to you, guys, to you. And that simple thing was, I’m in the business of providing content to fuel your decisions. And as simple as that, so that you can say, wow, that’s weird. But the When is the last time you thought about decision making? Right? There are a lot of tools out there for decision making. And if you don’t actually really think about decision making, how are you going to be able to leverage experts, right, and by going deep into that and all of those different parts that’s really what it became. So, what I’d like to do is sort of shift into what was the prescription? So, after I got tapped on the shoulder, what do we actually end up building? And what I’m going to ask each of you guys to do is just to think about if you can’t empathize with these particular situations, these these five stages from how hard the call is, it’s easy to say in a conference room, yes, I’m gonna go sell to executives, that’s the easy thing to do. The hard thing to do is to stay committed to doing it, especially when you run into challenges along the way. And if you make it sound so too easy, and you don’t help them simulate the hardness, you’re gonna create a situation where they think there’s something wrong with them, and they’re gonna stop doing it like a lot of my peers did, and I almost did, right. So, what I would suggest is, this is what we ended up building. So, So the story if you go back and visit, listen to our third episode, it’s more of a story about Scott getting tapped on the shoulder. And maybe that’ll help explain why I was a little more fiery when people were getting in my way and giving me sales prevention, because those people weren’t about fired, and I was about fired. So maybe that’s that that’ll explain. But if you go back and listen to that episode, I was asked by the executive committee to come and fix some of this stuff that I that I was articulating. So really, there’s five things that we did. So here are five things that you can go do in your your company. So, the first one is define what’s the core value to whom you’re targeting. So, all of the material that we had at Mehta group was targeted at the mark Fleischmanns of the world. We didn’t have any clear value core value targeted at the executives So this case, if you’re following along very specifically, that’s decision-making fuel. That’s what the core value was everything else was irrelevant decision-making fuel. Point number two. The next thing that we did was say, given that that’s the issue, how do I add value? So going from the lesson learned from the Keith Capital One, I actually got half of the way there. But then I couldn’t answer that question. So, there’s no possible way that we can train all of our salespeople to be experts on the 17 different services that we had no way. What can we do to make them more valuable, we can train them on being decision making experts? So, we checked out of the solution selling business, the sales methodology business, and we started focusing on how do we teach our reps to be decision making experts. That was point number two. Point number three you had needed create a a way for that for customers to tangibly feel that value, tangibly manifest that value. That’s not a demo guys. Right? What it is is is is a a way for them to experience it for us at Mehta group we ended up creating decision making engines, you know, a framework, we would give the framework away to our clients and they would go, Wow, that’s great. How do you how do you keep making sure that you’re making the right decisions, you need to buy our service to be able to do it, you need the content fuel, if they don’t have a decision-making engine or a way in their head to do it. They couldn’t do it. So, we concentrated on building these decision-making engines. I call that maybe a value framework or something like that. I don’t necessarily have the right words for that. But for us at Mehta group, it was a decision-making engine but a framework of value that customers see themselves in?

Brian Lambert 34:01

Yeah. And I actually prefer you not to label it because that’s one of the things in sales enablement to me is when we throw out something, somebody says, Oh, that’s buyer persona. You’re talking about buyer journey right now, aren’t you Scott?

Scott Santucci 34:12

Right. And I’m like, I think some people would label what I’m talking about as a commercial insight. Right? I don’t think this is a commercial insight.

Brian Lambert 34:19

Yeah, so let’s not do that everybody, let’s just let’s not label it right. Now let’s let’s focus on these five things. Because one, they worked in two, they were field tested, and scaled. Right? So, first was define the value, the person you’re targeting, or the buyer you’re targeting, then and to help understand how you add value as a company, right? Not as an as a seller as both and then three is help the customer the buyers or the buyer network, you know, feel that value experience that value through a decision-making tool or just, you know, a portion of this service. Well,

Scott Santucci 35:00

Let’s not call it a tool because I think part number four, because there’s two more parts to this. Part Number four is we did create client facing guides. So, in other words, instead of asking our sellers to know all of the different things like we talked about SAP, but there’s helpdesk, there’s network, campus setup, network strategy, all of those other things, we created guides for all of the key topics. So, I think we ultimately had like 70 of these guides, that salespeople would just pick a plug and play and based on who they were talking to, and put in front of the client, they follow the same structure, all of them that followed the same uniform structure, the decision-making engine, that’s what they trained on, there was a decision-making process. And any salesperson could walk through that material and evaluate away without knowing any of the subject matter expertise, because they had the structured tool. So, what we did is we work with the subject matter experts to get these these points. And it was client facing. We call those buying blueprints. But really, I would call them today maybe success recipes or something like that. And we had two editions, we had the client facing edition. And then we had a playbook for our sellers of what the key talking points were. And what what capabilities match to that based on the scenarios our customers would run into. So that was that was number four. And then number five, is instead of doing demand generation activities, what we did is we launched a integrated marketing program, where we launched how to teleconferences and basically the How to teleconference was was, we pick a big strategic theme, like, how do you do it? How do you how do you create an IT operations group to be more successful? Or how do you do CRM the right way? How do you do come Chain Management the right way. And what we did is I hosted all of those. And I asked the executives, not what the solutions were. But basically, what are the challenges that people have? And then what do they need to do to? What do they need to be thinking about, you know, aka what decisions do they need to be making in order to be successful, and we didn’t talk anything about our products? So, we put all of those things together in an integrated way. As you can imagine, we work with we had to work all the way up with the CEO had to get bought in. We worked and retrained all the salespeople. We built these, these structures that our research or our product people had to buy into. We asked both marketers and solutions experts to build these these guides and they had to be very structured because they had the reps had to do it. And then we work with marketing in terms of setting up the demand generation program. All of that created that right environment. And what we did is after we rolled it out, our deal size increased 56%, our win rate decreased 25% and our sales cycle time or from first contact to close collapse 35%. So, we just had massive, massive, massive success, all really predicated on that story that I shared and being able to relate to the human issues and the, you know, navigating all the complexity and simplifying everything.

Brian Lambert 38:32

Yeah. So, the I love the human element on that, and also, you know, one, I’m biased, but to me, that’s, that’s what you just described is indeed sales enablement. And, you know, we can, we can debate that with our listeners on what that is or not, but, you know, hopefully, the folks that are listening to this agree, but the second piece of that is, but let me play devil’s advocate because If I’m driving down the road right now, I’m gonna have to re listen to this podcast to get these 512. When I, when you rattle these off, it’s a crap ton of work. You know? So, g Scott and Brian, you guys just created a whole bunch of work for me to go do this and you know, two and then three, how the hell am I going to do all this? Right? I don’t have the resources. I don’t have the people, even if I believe this is the right thing to do. I’m not sure how to go do it. So, thanks. You just screwed up my my commute and the rest of my day. Now. What would you say to that?

Scott Santucci 39:32

Well, I’d say if you want to know how call us now that’s that that’s a that’s a different issue. I think the bigger question would be do are the things that are being done today? Like how committed Are you as a company to sell to executives? That’s the first question I’d ask if it’s strategically important as it is in many, many companies. What choice do you have? Honestly.

Brian Lambert 39:59

Well, this Same old the same old, same old trick.

Scott Santucci 40:01

The same old, same old isn’t working.

Brian Lambert 40:03

Yeah, but at least I can check off the box and I was able to do stuff today. You know, again, I’m playing devil’s advocate, but I

Scott Santucci 40:11

But but, but but like I said, Okay, so you check the box off. So, what if the company is investing lots of money to move the needle and the needle doesn’t move? What’s going to happen?

Brian Lambert 40:24

Yeah, eventually they’ll say why do we have an enablement function? Right, let’s just put it back the way it was.

Scott Santucci 40:30

Let’s hire more reps instead. Yeah. And we’ll make more calls because it’s clearly a numbers game. And you know, the reason I think the reason that sales enablement is such an exciting potential as such exciting potential is because we can get into the business of less, less is more, and simplifying is more and higher quality is more, but if we’re building generic personas, and we’re targeting random stakeholders, and we’re not dealing with, you know, the nuances that sellers run into on a day-to-day basis. And if we don’t have a structure with which to organize it, we’re not going to make a lot of progress. And my story about the sales enablement side on this, Brian is very much I wouldn’t say it’s all sales enablement. There’s things that I didn’t do that I would like to do like sales coaching, and you know, fixing some of the hiring, hiring challenges and making the CRM process much easier. There’s so much more I could have done I would say this is a very much a flavor on the content side. How do you get the content side? How do you bring alignment there? What what’s what does actually real tangible sales content look like? And if you don’t get the buy in at the top, all you’re going to be doing is just generating more stuff. We need playbooks. We need this we need we need persona guides, and it just explodes of tons and tons and tons of information and your reps are going to end up creating their own material anyway.

Brian Lambert 42:00

Yeah, yeah, that’s why the stakeholder stakeholder management episode was so good. The one right before this 112, I believe, but the, you know, what strikes me on this, and then we have to wrap up, but I’d love your reaction to this. And we, you and I had this conversation, you know, 10 years ago. And you know, I’ve learned a lot since then. But we were talking, and I was like, you know, this is just, it’s just a mountain of stuff. And it’s so it seems so huge. And he said, you know, what, Brian, if we don’t do it, if if we don’t tackle the complexity, then who’s going to do it? And remember, you wrote that one report that if this if this, if the complexity is not tackled and simplified on behalf of reps, they have two choices, they show up and throw up, or they push all the complexity to their, their customer in that regard. So, the customer ends up having to sort through it, to figure it out on their own. Or they do this superhuman heroic effort that you did. Where they they get put on a pip and almost fired and have to go create their own stuff to bridge that gap. And neither?

Scott Santucci 43:10

Yeah, yeah, forgot about that. Yeah. So, so we should probably go through that report and what you know, what Brian’s referring to is a report I wrote called engineering valuable sales conversations. And we should have, we should probably revisit that I know, we had a few listeners that have brought that up before and said we should update it. But yeah, what Brian’s talking about is that what what we’re dealing with is a complexity problem. And no one likes to talk about complexity. And whether you like it or not, you have a complexity, coping strategy. coping strategy number one is no one else who’s supporting sales confronts it. So, we push it on the backs of reps. Most of those reps aren’t going to confront it. So, they’ll push it back on the backs of customers and those customers are gonna have the procurement people yell at you and tell you we don’t want to hear from you. Right?

Brian Lambert 44:06


Scott Santucci 44:07

Right? Hmm. So that’s that’s basically what I was doing is pushing the complexity on to Dr. popper at Merck and the CIO at Campbell Soup. Well, now the next part then is well, that’s clearly not working. So, Scott’s decided that he’s going to go into the business of creating his own content. And he started out doing that first. So, it’s the heroic effort. I By the way, I also shut down a turned off, and I purposely would enter my data in incorrectly. So that corporate couldn’t send out like, you know, have different email addresses a corporate couldn’t communicate my prime target targets because, yeah, the information that they were sending was just so confusing.

Brian Lambert 44:51

Yeah. So, I know that free Willie moment you had a choice to make either I’m going to do this in spite of my system of my company and do this on my own, or I’m gonna quit before I get canned. Like, there’s a lot of reps out there and myself included. I actually quit before you got it out kudos to you, but I, I hit the eject handle in my situation, but I think there’s a lot of people out there are a lot of reps in particular that have that exact same free willie moment. Yeah.

Scott Santucci 45:24

Yeah. And so, then the other. The other coping strategy is the heroic effort, which is basically what we’re asking people to do. When we do challenger sale or whatever, because the burden, we’re asking them to figure out what the executive priorities are. We’re asking him to figure out what the buying impacts are. We’re asking him to figure out three to one environment. We’re asking him to figure out make sure you follow the buying process. Make sure you do this make sure you do that. Make sure you do this and the amount of inspection but none of that stuff is accurate. Because there’s no such thing as a buying school there’s no executives has ever been through this is how I buy stuff. It just just doesn’t exist or solve problems, right. So, we’ve put what we’re basically putting the heroic effort on the backs of reps. And that’s a very costly and risky proposition because only about 20% of the reps can do it. And really where we’re Brian, I think about this is that the opportunity for sales enablement is to manage the complexity for the sellers, and come up with these integrated programs, like we just talked about here.

Brian Lambert 46:27

That’s right. And that’s a, that’s gonna be how we end this is, you know, you all have a make have to make a decision to, you know, and to tackle that complexity or not. And there is a lot of opportunity to elevate your role and your function by tackling it. Give us a call if you’re doing that. We certainly need more discussions around that Scott, and I have a lot to learn. Still, there’s a lot of complexity that we have to navigate we need, and we would like to have more inputs around that from folks that are tackling these issues. So given Call shoot us an email and engage@insidese.com also tell us the stories, the good, the bad, and challenge us. You know this was a bit of a dated story. Is it still relevant or not? Call us out on it. Let us know. We appreciate you listening. We went a little bit over today, but I wanted to make sure we landed that. Scott, thanks for the stories. Thanks for your time. We’ll see you guys later. Take care.

Nick Merinkers 47:24

Thanks for joining us. To Become an insider and amplify your journey. Make sure you’ve subscribed to our show. If you have an idea for what Scott and Brian can cover in a future podcast or have a story to share, please email them at engage at insidese.com You can also connect with them online by going to insidese.com following them on Twitter or sending them a LinkedIn request.

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