Ep33 State of SE Panel 1: Sales Enablement Experts

Ep33 State of SE Panel 1: Sales Enablement Experts

Welcome to the Inside Sales Enablement Podcast, Episode 33

In March 2020, the guys fielded a groundbreaking study on the Future of Sales Enablement. We wanted it to have more open ended answers to reduce the sampling error bias and to take different lenses and different tools that we could use as researchers to do our analysis. Our goal was to get 50 responses. You (Insider Nation) gave us 70 responses within a week! We ended up with over 100 responses to that start survey — which is incredible.

To help us analyze the raw data, we created our Insider Nation: Guest Analyst Program. Our first 3 guests analysts are:

  1. Tamara Schenk: Sales Enablement Leader | Advisor | Author | Speaker | Mentor | Empowering Human Potential in Sales Teams and Leaders
  2. Josie Marshburn: Founder of Sales Benchmark Index with previous leadership roles in Sales Enablement at Oracle and VM Ware.
  3. Mike Kunkle: VP of Sales Effectiveness Services at SPARXiQ 

To view the research method, visit https://www.OrchestrateSales.com/research/

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 00:36

I’m Brian Lambert, we are the sales enablement insiders.

Scott Santucci 00:40

Today we have a special edition podcast. It’s actually part it’s it’s actually part of our overall study on the state of sales enablement. And the program that we’re doing that we’ve been sharing with you as listeners. So, to remind everybody, our COVID-19 series started off with a panel and the panel conversation was with Dr. Howard Dover, from the University of Texas, Dallas, we had Kanaal Metha, who is a operations portfolio executive at TCP. And then we had Lindsey Gore, who’s a enterprise sales executive to keep us honest. And in that, in that series, we ran into a pretty interesting conversation, which was around how are your companies going to react to all this COVID. And a discussion happened about Well, where’s the state of sales enablement, going to lead to? Well, that definitely was concerning. So, what we did Brian and I talked about it, and we decided that what we needed to do is do a study. So, what we what we put together was a survey. And we wanted it to have more open-ended answers rather than asking, you know, direct questions that are, you know, yes or no, or things that you can measure, partially because we’re trying to reduce the sampling error bias, we’re trying to take different lenses and different tools. So, you know, as former researchers to do it, our goal was to get 50 responses, we thought that setting our target as having 25 would be rich, because this is much more qualitative than quantitative feedback. And that having 25 responses from sales enable professionals about where they think the world’s heading is great. Well, what did you do as insider nation gave us 70 responses within a week? So, it’s been difficult for those of us on our end, Brian, and eyes in formatting it. And then of course, on our our esteemed panelists, in which we’re going to introduce here in a minute sorting through all your answers. And then as of today, so we had 77 responses in one week. As of today, there are 95 responses to that cert survey, which is incredible. So, thank you so much for insider nation, and also the sales enablement community. Now, as we’ve mentioned, this issue about bias, we’re very interested in figuring out what’s really, really going on. So, we started a guest analyst program. So, this is something that you can’t do at Forest or or CSO insights or, or gardener. And really, what we’re doing is we’re tapping the expertise of our listeners and people in the community. And I’ve reached out to people who have been in the space for at least 10 years to be able to see that. So, I’m extremely excited with our with our first batch. So, what we did is with this guest analyst program, we’ve interviewed them, and really what I do is it’s really hard for me, but I try as much as I can. And you know, our panelists, you can tell me whether I did a good job of that or not, I just try to listen to what is on the minds of others without sharing my, my perspective. Then what we wanted to do is so that the rest of the community, our insider nation, can hear about these dialogues, is pulled together a panel. And I’m incredibly honored and excited to introduce everyone, our first panel to share the findings of the findings or her I don’t even know what we’ll call them, maybe maybe we’ll do that. So, joining me today is Josie mashburn. So, Josie has a background of running sales enablement at both Oracle and VMware among other things. I met her actually as a panelist for a learning and development summit maybe two or three years ago. And since then, I’ve tracked her progress and, and has been excited to see that she’s joining joining the world of sales enablement, expert experts out there for hire. So welcome Josie, would you like to introduce yourself and give a little color to our audience?

Josie Mashburn 04:45

Hi Scott, thank you so much for having me on today. I really appreciate it. So, I run a consulting firm called sales enablement benchmark where we help leaders improve sales performance, and it’s interesting whether you’re a small startup or a very large organization There are always areas of improvement that we can make in sales and, and in including sales enablement. So, I’m very happy to have participated in the survey and have an opportunity to chat with you about it and the others today. Thank you for having me.

Scott Santucci 05:16

Excellent. Thank you. So next up is is Mike Kunkel. If you are on LinkedIn, and you don’t know Mike Kunkel is I don’t believe that you’re on LinkedIn. Mike is very, very prolific in this space. He’s been he’s been involved in sales enablement, and sales training since since its inception. He’s heavily involved in ATD and helping to build out that practice. He’s developed his own methodology around sales and mail when he calls the building blocks, which I’m sure we’ll hear hear about. And Mike and I met at least eight years ago, I remember it was at a conference at conference at Forrester. And Mike, take it away. Tell us a little bit more about yourself.

Mike Kunkel 06:00

Yeah. Hey, Scott, and Hi everyone else, really pleased to be here too appreciate the chance to talk about what’s happening in the profession. Yeah, remember that 2013 Forrester conference with you in the white lab coat? Right being the the simplest that we possibly can be but not as not simpletons. Right. So that message stuck with me for many, many years. So I am, I’m the VP of Sales effectiveness services for sparks IQ. And we serve wholesale distribution and manufacturing companies, helping them with sales analytics, like strategic pricing, and territory optimization, knowing which accounts to focus on and then doing the diagnostics, around sales effectiveness, sales enablement to help them understand how to create a path forward to improve sales results. So that’s a little about me.

Scott Santucci 06:56

Excellent. And then last, but definitely not least, is Tamra shank. Tamra and I go way back. Actually, she was a client of our of mine when I was at at Forster and was one of the leading members of that sales enablement Leadership Council that we had when she was working at t systems and running a big sales enablement transfer transformation effort. You might know her today as the sales enablement analyst with CSO insights. So, she’s done a lot of work there. And she’s written one of the most formative books around the space. I can go on and on and Tamra and I go off can go off and a lot of different tangents. So, I’m doing my best to keep it tight. Tamra, welcome. And tell us a little bit about yourself.

Tamra Shank 07:44

Hi, Scott, and everybody on the show. Very happy to be here. Yeah, so we go way back, I think a decade or so. I am now in a very interesting perspective of having done this in a leadership role for six years. And also, having looked at this for six years as an analyst, and are focusing on helping sales enablement leaders to to get this right to create impact and also helping organizations to get better than what I currently do for sure.

Scott Santucci 08:13

Excellent. So let me just walk you through it to our audience. Here’s the format that we’re going to walk through. I have three open ended questions that we’re going to ask our panelists. My job is to, you know, to facilitate and get into answers. And then we’re going to turn it over for Brian for a recap to close out. Brian, tell us about what what you’re going to do. And when you chime in what’s happening for our audience to follow along.

Brian Lambert 08:36

Yeah, thanks. Hey, everybody. Good. Good to be with you. I will be listening to everybody’s comments. I may chime in seeking clarification. And at the end, I’ll summarize what I’m hearing and make sure that our guests analysts agree with that. And from that, we’ll be able to have clear takeaways from this discussion.

Scott Santucci 08:58

Excellent. So, let’s get started with our panel. Question one I’m going to ask in order. So, the first, the first question is to Josie and of course, every panelist will will respond to it. Having looked at the survey findings, what are a few things that stood out for you?

Josie Mashburn 09:18

Scott, what really stood out for me as I was looking through the survey findings is the variation in answers. There are answers that people gave that are from a thought leadership position. And then there are answers that people gave that were concerning, they seem to be uncomfortable in their role. They seem to be uncomfortable with the questions in some cases. And and that’s, that’s concerning, especially in light of where we’re at with the economy and the workforce right now.

Scott Santucci 09:51

Excellent. So, we’re going to double back in this section and have you have a chance our panelists interact. Mike. What what You’re having looked at the survey, what are a few things that stood out for you?

Mike Kunkel 10:04

Well, one was that it seemed to indicate that people felt as I do that sales enablement as phenomenal potential. The concerning piece for me, is how many people recognize that we need to morph toward more of some have somewhat of an internal consulting role and to be more results oriented, to move the numbers to do bottom line to not just run initiatives? Now, that’s a double-edged sword, right? It’s great that people are recognizing that. But it’s a problem that that’s where we are, largely and the results ranged from highly tactical whether the answers to the questions rather ranged from highly tactical, to pretty strategic stuff. So, you know, I think it came out a bit that organization leaders are tending to get in the way of those results, or maybe getting in the way of us doing more internal consulting. And it became clear to me that the that we in sales enablement need to be organization leaders ourselves, not not taking orders. You know, we’re being whipping boys. So, you know, I saw some great potential in there, but some of those things really concerned to me as well.

Scott Santucci 11:29

Excellent thank you, and Tamra.

Tamra Shank 11:32

Um, so what concerned me as well is the very broad variation of answers to every single question. So, if you looked at the question from what is it yeah, we we had answers from very tactical up to an engine to drive transformation. When we look at the shareholder question Edwards forum, many people apparently uncomfortable to answer. And that means we basically don’t know what to tell them what we have achieved. And also, when it comes to how to look at it, and what what could have been asked, in addition, so the very broad variety of very tactical steps to get things done to get things off the checklist, up to how do we basically drive transformation in a bigger picture. So that tells us we have a lot of ideas out there, we have not a lot of clarity out there. And that’s where we have to get to.

Scott Santucci 12:32

So that’s interesting. So, Josie, back to you since you were the first in this segment. What are your reactions to hearing from your peers?

Josie Mashburn 12:42

I loved Mike describing it as internal consulting, because in order for you to be effective in this role, there’s so many partnerships that you have to create around the organization. There’s so many partners that either help supply content and enablement strategies for you, there’s partners that you need to work with to enable those teams as well. So, I thought the description around internal consulting was very interesting. Leaders getting in the way was the other comment that stood out to me because I think it is our best intentions to help. And that’s why there’s so many groups that jump in all over the place, once they understand what enablement is. And they want to be a Me too, and that the problem is, then we overload any of our customer facing team members, too, with too much information, too deep of content, not the right content for the right conversation, and we confuse them. So those are the two biggest things that stood out to me in the other conversations.

Scott Santucci 13:49

Excellent. Thank you. That’s great. How about you, Mike, what did you hear from your peers?

Mike Kunkel 13:53

Well, what I heard, interestingly, since we’re talking about how much variance there is, in the survey results, what I heard across the three of us, was alignment about some of the things that we liked and the concern. Yeah, that was the thing. That was the thing that really struck me is that we tried to say it in different ways. But we were pretty much all saying the same things.

Scott Santucci 14:18

Yeah, sorry to interject my I can’t resist. That’s exciting for me as well. What’s really cool is each of you guys have different color, right? There’s a texture, that’s different, but you’re not different in terms of your observations. And I think that’s the richness that we want to bring out the rest of this call. Tamar, how about yourself?

Tamra Shank 14:38

Yeah, very interesting. To to compare this, we come from different perspectives, but at the core, we come overall to the same observations regarding the survey, and it is to me a mirror to what sales enablement seems to be right now it is a collaborative orchestrating element is what we need apparently leads to a lot of uncertainty and unclarity for many people in the space or have these roles. And what I heard across some of these answers is a lot of helping here and helping there but then not having the right position to do that. So, we can only help others with if you’re in a position of strength. And and that’s where we have to get to first to to really get a lot of clarity, and in a more strategic set of enablement to be actually to be able to to help others are Incheon and and customers and customers.

Scott Santucci 15:39

Excellent. So, I’m going to zoom in now we’re going to go to our next question. Our next question, Mike, you’re going to be our chair on this one? Um, what was your favorite question? And why?

Mike Kunkel 15:53

I think if I had to nail it down, right, because I thought about this are a couple of things that leapt out at me, but I would focus in on what business is sales enablement? Because, as we talked about the variants already have the answers. And I looked at the answers to that. It was everything from like, we’re doordash delivering, which, right to, to we are, we are management consultants, right? And I saw a pattern of management consulting come out there, I saw things like maximizing human potential Mission Control for a space launch, I thought was a fascinating answer. Right, you see a ton of professional development, professional services, things came out, right. But it it again, it was all over the board, from you know, being a service business, to being someone who should report directly to the head of sales is sort of the right-hand person or right arm of the sales leader, you know, to analogies with with oil exploration and production, like to try to find out where there was opportunity and run some key tests. And some of those got really exciting for me, right? Because I’m a big believer in the consulting angle. I’m a big believer in diagnose first, then prescribe. And I’m a big believer in systems thinking. And I saw some of those themes come out there. But again, what concerned me is that it was so all over the board with some of those, you know, really cool thoughts about how I think sales enablement, can help take organizations forward in good times or difficult times, like we’re going through now. And then there were some things that were just so tactical about things. I don’t remember this one specifically, what I keep thinking every time I think sales enablement, I keep hearing people saying the simplest stuff like, you know, messaging tools, technology training, buy, as opposed to how do we really get into our organization, figure out where we are, where we need to go next? What’s gonna close that gap and how we’re going to structure and support the organization to make that journey. And I saw all of that type of difference in variants. In that one answer, we still can’t really define really sales enablement, what we do and how we’re going to make an impact.

Scott Santucci 18:20

There’s so much there. If you follow our show, you’re gonna hear this is Scott being incredibly restrained, and not because Mike gave some red meat for me to want to chime in. And I’m going to take a deep breath. And I’m going to ask Tamra. What was your favorite question? And why?

Tamra Shank 18:40

My favorite question was the shareholder question. So, what would we write in a letter to the shareholders? Because it’s what I experienced in my own role, it is incredibly important to keep the senior executives and and stakeholders involved and to keep them engaged. And this can only happen if you’re really aligned to what they care about, to their goals to the metrics they are measured on. And what I saw through the answers of the survey, many, many people wrote strangely uncomfortable to answer this question. Others could not even understand this question, which also tells us a lot about the big problem of how do we measure success in sales enablement. So, while people know the names of tons of hundreds of thousands of KPIs, they can be measured. The question is what actually makes sense in a sales enablement context? What should be measured and how do we communicate success? That depends on maturity and where we are and what we do and what the goals are. But there is a big, big gap and it this came all together from you’re looking at this question and people really had a very hard time, what to tell their shareholders, shareholders, what they are doing, what they have achieved, where they need their help, and so on.

Scott Santucci 19:59

So, one thing that, Tamra, you, and I both have been probably a little too pushy for for the rest of our peers on is the need for a charter. Can you can you expand upon, you know, sort of connect the dots a little bit? Why that the shareholder conversation is so important and how it relates to why somebody needs to have a charter.

Tamra Shank 20:24

Yeah, so in happy to do that. So, a charter, you can also call it a business plan. For whoever likes this more, it doesn’t matter. It simply is a business plan or charter that tells the shareholders your senior executive, this is the problem we have diagnosed is the problem shareholders senior executives agree on is the problem. They want us sales enablement to solve, we connect the dots to the existing strategic initiatives to the strategic business goals, and also define how we measure success. And if done that bigger picture, then we actually break down Okay, what actually do we need to do in terms of providing content messaging tools, whatever it is to our audience, but also and this is most of the time forgotten? How do we build the capabilities in it in the enablement team that we actually can do that? Then we need resource, we need investment, we put it on the roadmap and all these kinds of things, we define the matrix. So, this is what we mean with a charter.

Scott Santucci 21:23

And the reason I wanted to ask that is because a charter is really the manifestation of what Mike was talking about. Right? So, Mike’s had all these observations and said, you know, it’s really amazing that there isn’t really definition. And I think part of what we’ve we’ve gotten to this space, is we argued too much about the academic definition. And then as a result, because we’re just arguing about it, we don’t have clarity about what can answer the question, what business are you in? To Mike’s point, I’m trying to connect the dots in some terms, because I think another thing that that’s been clear, is that a lot of the terms get missed or misunderstood. And I guess that’s not unreasonable for an emerging emerging profession. So, moving now. So, Josie, you get to go last this time. So, what was your favorite question and why?

Josie Mashburn 22:13

So, there were a lot of questions that stood out to me. But my favorite one was the simple question of who is your customer? And it’s so amazing, when you look through the answers, we’re all over the place in defining who our customer is, if you don’t know who your customer is, how do you know what to do to support that customer? If you think about what a salesperson does, a salesperson clearly knows who their customer is, they know their territory, they know the accounts in their territory, they should be building a strategy around going after those accounts. And we should be supporting that. So, when I look through the answers, people were saying everybody in the company to the executive suite to the board to externally facing customers are my customer as a sales enablement leader. And so, you know, that’s why that stands out to me, Scott, is that if I don’t can’t break this all the way down to understanding who my customer is, I certainly can’t build out to tamaraws point, the business plan to support those customers.

Scott Santucci 23:15

So, what’s to me really exciting, is, and I’m going to try to summarize this for for our audience. Here’s what I heard. And I’m going to, I’m going to put words in all you guys mouth, feel free to spit out what doesn’t fit. But I heard Mike say, you know, take his favorite quick question was, so what business are we in? Let’s get clear what we’re doing. Right? That’s what I heard for her from Mike. And he gave really great color and context is saying, look how all over the place we are guys. And these are these are perspectives that no one of us individually could see. Because how often do we go talk to each other about what business we’re in? So, I thought that was really great. And, Mike, I think he did a really great job of giving a lot of color around that. Then we go to Tamra Tamra, whom I can attest to, because I have been in some of those meetings with her. Dealing with very strong upended exempt executives who literally won’t listen. How uhm so I think there’s a lot of I feel like the need to get get your back a little bit from some of those conversations. Why did she like the what’s the benefit? Or what, what would we say for our letter to shareholders, if you will. So, what she’s saying is, she’s been on this kick, if you if you read Tamra’s work or hear Tamra about how important a charter is, there’s a reason for it. It’s because you have to be able to defend your work. And then what when we when I hear Josie talk about it, Josie, you’re you’re talking about Look, there’s a lot of stakeholders here that we all have to manage. And if we’re not crystal clear which of those stakeholders are in support of and which of those stakeholders are customers, how in the world are we going to produce any results? So that’s what I heard from you guys. What what are your reactions from what you heard from each other? I’ll start with you, Mike.

Mike Kunkel 25:12

Yeah so, I was fascinated by the fact that, that all three of us picked my top three things. Right? Yeah. And so

Scott Santucci 25:22

And he didn’t put that out beforehand, by the way, guys.

Mike Kunkel 25:25

No, right. So that that was is same as the way that we all were aligned earlier. So probably no surprise. But I think that the thing that struck me about that is that all of these things that we mentioned, bring clarity, to how we need to then operate on a go forward basis. And that’s the that’s what was a critical takeaway for me, right? Who was her customer? Right? What’s the business? And the shareholder starts to get to? What are the results that you’re going to drive? And then after you do that, how will you communicate them and figure out how you’re going to do it again? And those three things bring the crystal clarity that is really needed, I think, in sales enablement today.

Scott Santucci 26:14

Good you set up Tamra great for I was gonna ask her about it. Of course, she agrees with clarity, don’t you? Tamra?

Tamra Shank 26:21

Yes absolutely.

Mike Kunkel 26:23

Maybe maybe diamond clarity?

Tamra Shank 26:27


Scott Santucci 26:28

For those, for those who get the joke. Tamar has got a model about using a diamond diamond shaped model in our book about driving clarity. So, Josie, any any reactions to what your what your peers felt? And in my summary did that summarize where we are well?

Josie Mashburn 26:48

What stood out to me the most God in hearing from Mike and Tamra? Is all of us being aligned around the need for a plan the need for how do you execute? And then how do you account for the things you said you were going to do? And if I think back to one of the things that Tamra said said that stood out to me, is it starts with understanding current state. So, if you think about the first 90 days of anybody coming into a new role, those first 90 days should be spent, understanding what’s working, what’s not working would needs to be improved in any role. And then presenting those back to your stakeholders getting buy in on the plan, getting support for the things that you need to do to evolve and change the organization. That’s a hard thing to do. And it takes a lot of experience and skill to do that. And so that’s really what stands out the most to me, is that the understanding that some people get that, and some people don’t, some people know how to build that business plan, and some people don’t. And so, where do you take it from here?

Scott Santucci 27:59

Excellent. So that sets us up for our third and final question. What do you see as the future sales enablement from here? Now before that, before we get into, you know, sort of asking our panelists to take out their crystal balls, and sooth say, what I do want to do is Josie brought up a great point about where we are today. And I want to share, I’ve condensed a few themes from other interviews that may or may not include interviews from from this I’ve had 15 interviews so far. I’m going to share two observations here as in terms of current state, one observation is one of the key. One of the key deliverables of sales enablement is professional development. And sales enablement doesn’t prioritize professional development. Is it any wonder why they have difficulty in explaining or articulating the value of what they do to their executive leadership? How do you guys react to that statement, and I’ll share another one before we get into. In other words, we can’t have a conversation about the future unless we know where we are today.

Josie Mashburn 29:16

So, Scott, I’ll jump in and give you my thought on that. I was recently listening to an interview that a sales leader was giving on his team and how he develops his team. And one of the things that he said is, you know, when we’re young and we play a sport, we put 10 to 20 hours a week of practice time, into building out the skills to be good at that sport and becoming really good and advanced in the sport. Yet we go into our professional life and especially in sales, we don’t continue that discipline. When you think about a sales enablement leader. Most people go into sales enablement without a background in sales enablement. Sometimes with a very light background in sales, and so it’s going to take even more than 10 to 20 hours a week of learning to become good at that skill. And so, when I hear you talk about professional development, it’s on both sides. I can’t develop salespeople unless I really, really understand the day in the life of that salesperson from real world experience. And then what am I doing in developing my skills to be a really good sales enablement leader? So that’s what stands out to me.

Scott Santucci 30:30

The context from some others, and I’ll let Michael camera comment if they want it was, how can how can the people who are running these departments justify the investments required? If they don’t prioritize the thing, the service that they’re providing the rest of the company? You know, themselves. So, you know, Tamra might be one comment on on, on that observation about sort of, uh, where are we here before we get to where we want to what the future looks like?

Tamra Shank 31:08

Yeah, well, I can. Okay.

Mike Kunkel 31:12

Go ahead. Tamra.

Tamra Shank 31:14

Okay. It’s a common problem you just described on what you learned from from these conversations. And it in my experience, what I learned, it comes from jumping too quick on, we need to do this. So, we need to do that. I know this program works, or that works, because it works elsewhere. So that means there is a lot of focus on getting activities done that are in some person’s checklist or not, but not having laid out a strategy. And that comes back to what also Josie said earlier, we need to really assess the current state. And that’s different in every organization. So, whether you run assessments, or however you do that we really have to understand this clearly. Then lay out a strategy, connect to the strategic objectives and then map out a plan. And that brings us back to the talent question, which is discuss, this is a very specific talent I need in such a role. I don’t learn a coming from sales, I don’t have all these skills coming from sales management, or from an l&d role, because the combination of this, I’m here to serve others, and I’m here to help others. And I want to do this the best way possible, combined with a system thinking and orchestrating capability to do is very rare skill. And I completely agree it’s not built, and it’s not developed. So that’s the talent, the test that we build itself.

Scott Santucci 32:40

So, I think you’re that’s great feedback. I think you’re getting into the point, the second observation that I want to bring up and I know, Mike, you’ll be able to comment on either. The other observation was, you cannot run an effective sales enablement organization, unless you are a systems thinker. So, I like kind of these bold statements here to give us something to react to. I think that’s more the spirit of where you were coming from. Right, Tamra? Yep. Okay. So, Mike, are you can comment on either one, yeah.

Mike Kunkel 33:18

Yeah, Choices, choices. So, I have a favorite quote, write that advice on how to figure out what to do is better than advice about what to do. And I think that’s a theme that I keep hearing here. And, you know, I’m also a fan of current state and future state right desired future state which Josie is brought up a few times, right, being able to map out that sort of thing. And I think the element of systems thinking comes in here because even with the professional development theme, look at all of the things that in order to be effective that a sales enablement leader needs to not necessarily be able to do themselves, but to understand demand generation, marketing, messaging, how people learn and how to structure training and development, and how to chunk sequence and layer massive amounts of content in over it on structured over time, with spaced repetition, and all the geeky instructional systems design thinking things to help people learn, then how to, to sew together a Franken stack of tools from various places, right, to be able to support the Salesforce and executing the things that they need to do well, right. When you think about that thing, those things that you’re starting to think in terms of systems, right, how to how do all of these moving parts align to create a larger hole that moves you forward and for years, right, I have thought in terms of how do you create a hiring system and onboarding and training and development and coaching systems. How to use create a management system in some type of sales management operating system or a cadence, you know, and how to use string all of those things together and make sure that just like a car, right, if, if the engine or the isn’t working right, or only four of eight spark plugs are firing, or if the drive train isn’t working, or if the electrical system is misfiring, if you don’t get all of those things fixed and in alignment car is not going to operate very well. And in an organization, it’s a highly complex system, right. And yet, you know, we think that we’re just going to go in and run a couple of initiatives and suddenly move the needle. And it doesn’t work that way. Because we have different people pulling in different directions, or we’re not putting the right people on the right seats in the bus to train them, and then support them with tools. And so sometimes no matter what you do, you’re not going to get maximum results, you have to start thinking in terms of these various systems, how you’ll get them in alignment, and then how they’re going to help move you from your current state to your future state. So that’s what’s bouncing around in my head as I’m here as this conversation Scott.

Scott Santucci 36:11

So, what I want to do then is I want to give each of you guys your platform your crystal ball to to set the what what the future sales enablement is here. But for our audience, here’s a summary of what we just heard. We heard that a big component of your business within a business like one of the major deliverables or wait major product lines is professional development. And by not embracing or prioritizing professional development, it looks like you yourself as a as a sales enablement head, don’t value it. So how would you be able to defend it and budget cuts? The second thing that we heard is, in order to manage all of the variables, get clarity on what kind of business that you’re in, to be able to produce the kind of communicate the results to the people who are investing you. And then to you know, Josie is number one, which was the managing all the different customers of it, you have to think, more nonlinearly and more systems thinking. So that’s really sort of a foundation. I think all of our panelists share. Now with that, that context. What I’d love to do is as that as your platform, Tamra, where do you see as the future of sales enablement from here? 2020 moving forward?

Tamra Shank 37:29

Yeah. So, I would like to say in 10 years from now on that this decade was the decade of enablement in a broader context, if you call it enterprise enablement, enablement, or something like that, or we keep it sales enablement. So, the term really doesn’t matter so much as some people think, because by debating about the term, we don’t solve the problem, I just want to say don’t focus yourself on the term, if you have a better one, it’s more important what the problem we solve. Now we have COVID-19. That is all hitting us hard. But we also have evidence of the last couple of years and in a resurgence called you’ve done what I’ve done in the past, and so on. So, we already know that in the last couple of years, only one quarter up to one third of organizations with sales and am really able to meet your stakeholders’ objectives. And to really move the performance needle the debt was already alarming the last couple of years. It wasn’t heard because the economy was growing. And people could make down numbers. And then Okay, I made my number. So, what so now the problem is bigger than before. Because if I don’t move the needle, everyone will say, okay, what are what are you guys doing here? So, it comes back to a reset earlier, we really need this discharged his connection to two strategic goals. Now, we not only have COVID-19, what it actually does, it’s pushing the transformation, the digital transformation, probably by at times five. So, it is more important than ever to get the digital transformation, right. And it doesn’t start with sales enablement itself with a company wide initiative. So, sales enablement has a big role in that because it should actually drive as an engine, that digital transformation for everything that’s customer focused. So, and that also brings us to the point that we should get rid of the different functions we have from marketing to sales to service, this is just one flow along the customers channel we have to get right there are different stages. We have to look at. We need a consistent messaging we need consistent tools and and help along this entire journey. We really should have this this bigger perspective on it. And that again, brings us back to the discussion we just had I need people in that role that can understand the bigger system that understand it. There are a lot of dimensions going on. And I cannot reduce complexity, which means I cannot take a customer dimension me or a marketing or messaging dimension of a day or simply here, I have to navigate them. And that means for people in a sales enablement role, there’s a lot of orchestrating efforts, there is a lot of systems thinking effort really needed. And to make it simple for our audience, it’s first of all, half for ourselves to get that right. I think that’s very often overlooked. And that’s not articulated very well, which makes us hard to justify what we’re actually doing when it comes to then to our shareholders. And then we’ll do already said, and this whole circumstance really requires a lot of development for people in that role themselves.

Scott Santucci 40:43

Okay, so if I were to summarize what I heard, I heard that in the world, according to Tamar, the this next decade could be the decade of business enablement, provided that one, whoever’s in this role leans into embraces and understands the complexity, embraces systems thinking and unlocks it to is that they realize that they are an orchestration role, to bring the sum of the parts to make them better than the whole. And that three, in order to do that a lot of work needs to be done to develop these these skills, because they’re new, because, frankly, we’re in a digital economy right now. And that’s really the crux of, of what we’re dealing with here is a digital transformation of business. Is that fair?

Tamra Shank 41:38

Absolutely. perfectly sized.

Scott Santucci 41:42

That’s what I do. Right? So how about you, Josie, that what is the future of sales enablement for you?

Josie Mashburn 41:51

It’s such a great question, Scott. So, you know, before I think about what the future of sales enablement is, I need to look at what the future of sales is, you know, at any, at any time, outside of a crisis, we have challenges in sales, we have greater than 50% of the typical sales organization not making their numbers. And that’s in a good economy. We have people that are Miss hired for roles, and they’re Miss hired for roles, because we don’t define the criteria for the specific role in a given territory before we go out and look for a candidate. So, with all of those things that are misaligned from the beginning, when it comes to a sales professional, it’s very challenging, then try to put a function like sales enablement on top of it, and think it’s going to be effective. So I would think in order for the role itself to be effective, for the function to be effective within a company, we have to go all the way back to selling within any given sales organization, and start fixing those key areas that drive performance, and then put the enablement wrapper around it, to make sure that we’re enabling people at the right time with the right conversation, to effectively move the deal forward in the process, that we are teaching people the things they need to learn for the role that they’re they’re in, whether that’s a hunting role, or it’s a farming role, we have to clearly know that. And unless you do that, as a sales organization, you can’t expect your sales enablement people to be able to support you in the right way because it hasn’t been defined.

Scott Santucci 43:29

Okay, so here is my attempt to summarize what I heard ready? Yes. Okay. So, there’s a, there’s a saying about that I really like about productivity, is productivity is really the answer to these two questions. Question one, are we doing the right things? Question two? Are we doing things right? What I’m hearing from you is that the future of sales enablement, can be the department that asks both of those questions. And in order to do that, are we doing the things right, we have to get clarity on, for example, what kind of salespeople are we building? Are we just hiring people who’ve met quarter somewhere else? Or do we want them to be in service of who our customers are? And of course, there’s many questions underneath that. And in order to be able to balance both of those things, somebody’s got to have the seat at the table to be able to influence and ask the management, the executive leadership, are we doing the right things and challenge maybe conventional wisdom, or the way things have always always done? And then secondly, bit to be able to have the support infrastructure to constantly ask, are we doing things right, rather than just trying to buy best practices off the shelf from somewhere?

Josie Mashburn 44:48

That’s a great summary.

Scott Santucci 44:49

That’s great. I’m two for two you’re you’re up next, Mike I’m I feel a lot of pressure. I want to make sure I get all of you guys’s summaries right, Mike, bring out your crystal ball. Where do we see sales enablement going from here?

Mike Kunkel 45:01

I use a magic eight ball and says reply hazy. So, so you so you did a riff on Drucker there, right? leadership is doing the right things management is doing things right. I’m going to quote somebody else, I think it was Galileo said, If I’ve seen further is because I’ve stood on the shoulder of giants. And we keep making stuff up in sales enablement, like, no one has ever done anything like this before. Yet, you can get a degree in organization behavior. You can study organization development, you can get a certification and performance consulting, you can join the international society performance improvement and learn HPT, which is human performance technology, all of these things. And there’s been a science of management for years, or about how do we get our organizations performing at a higher level. So, I’d say we stop reinventing the wheel with chisels and hammers, and go look at some of these other, there’s other professions, not all of them who have taken full route in organizations, unfortunately, I wish performance consulting, which was announced growth of training years ago, had really taken off, but there’s some gems in there. And they all come back to the very things that we’re talking about, first of all, some alignment, right, who’s our customer? What’s the business, in letter to the shareholders are the things that we all had alignment on earlier. And those are things that start to get us pointed in the right direction? That is to move to sales, performance consulting, right, diagnose first then prescribe better systems thinking to get things aligned, you know, maybe some more focus on sales management, how we execute against that. But it’s all about really figuring out current state desired future state. Does that sound like anything else that we do? What do we expect our salespeople to do when they go into a client? discovery, right? understand where they are impacts of where they are? where they want to go? Right? You know, what are the challenges and opportunities they face? What are the impacts they’re facing? What needs does that create? What outcomes do they want? And how would they prioritize those things? Why don’t we take some of that insight about how we think people should sell and refocus it on sales enablement, to help us do some of the very things that we want to do with the organization. And I think, I think that would be a huge step for us to be able to take and get people to do over the next couple of years. Because no matter what the circumstances, no matter what the next COVID-19 is, no matter you know what situation we’re facing. If we take that kind of an approach, we can figure out where we are, right where we need to be, and enforce your plan to help get there. And we can use all sorts of tools and science and statistics and other things to support that and get it to happen. But we need alignment about who you know, who’s our customer? What are we going to be doing? And what are the outcomes we want to produce for what stakeholders and then you know, the ability to analyze, diagnose, first then prescribe to be able to get there. And if we just started to take that lens towards sales enablement, I don’t care, too earlier comments, what we call it almost at this point, if we can get those type of things in place, support the business and make a business impact. We’ve got a great future.

Scott Santucci 48:28

Gotcha. So let me summarize what I’ve heard. Let’s Park, the who’s gonna, what needs to happen for those standards to emerge will park that that’s a whole different, different comment. But here’s what I take away. And here’s here’s what I hear from you, Mike. And my headline for you is think globally, act locally? And what I mean is No, I don’t think that Mike conkel is advocating Al Gore’s vert, you know, global warming stance, but really, it’s just the issue of look, we need to think in terms of professionals, we need to think and practice what we preach. What are we asking our sellers to do? How much are we embracing how complex the selling world is? And how much cross training are we asking salespeople do? We’re asking them to be financial experts. We’re asking them to learn time management skills. We’re asking them to learn how to synthesize information, some of us are introducing design thinking to them, some of us are introducing discovery. Some of them want some of us want salespeople to do be sophisticated ROI, talents, all of these technical experts, all of these different things. We want that expertise that requires us as sales enablement leaders to be as equally cross trained. And I think Mike’s observation is how come we’re not doing that. And then I think the second thing is, that’s sort of the Act globally, think globally. And then in terms of action Locally, it’s inside your individual company. What is the business contribution that you’re doing right now? how well you’re doing it and then harnessing these variables together? Are you making that stew, if you will, that satisfies the palate of your executive leadership? So those were those were sort of the themes that I heard for from you, Mike, in terms of the future sales enablement, or that those well characterized or anything to add.

Mike Kunkel 50:29

Your Honor streaks. Good.

Scott Santucci 50:30

Done. Yes. Thanks. This is perfect. I’m done. I’m turning over to Brian. Now I’m out on another word.

Brian Lambert 50:38

I find that hard to believe anybody else is kidding. Alright, so that was a rich conversation, you guys. I’m going to summarize the whole thing. So, Scott, thanks so much for summarizing along the way. And the first thing I’ll say is, and you guys can answer this yes or no. But it seems like, overall, you guys are all three very optimistic on the promise of sales enablement. Right. Would you agree with that?

Tamra Shank 51:07


Brian Lambert 51:09

Yep. tomorrow. Okay. So, everybody’s optimistic about the promise of sales enablement. I also know from individual conversations with all three of you that you are very passionate about seeing sales enablement succeed. And you want sales enablement professionals to succeed, right?

Mike Kunkel 51:27


Brian Lambert 51:29

So, yep. So, a lot of your comments came came out of, you know, synthesizing, but sales enablement professional said, right, that’s what these questions were was, what did you see in the data? So, I’m going to summarize what you said. But we’ve already established your point of view about the overall profession and what you think about sales enablement, professionals. But you’re summarizing the data of what they said what they said, right? So first of all, I would say that all three of you are talking about a polarizing view that this profession we’re in, we’re talking about the profession and this data, the profession, and the role is polarized. It’s it’s either super tactical, or super strategic. And there’s pockets in between. And depending on who’s answering, they’re pretty sure about their answer. So that’s my first takeaway is that it’s polarized. The second one is, and I’ll let you guys comment on this. So first, it’s, you’re saying to us and to the listeners, that the profession appears to be polarized when you read the data. The second one is, is that it’s professionally dispersed, that there are pockets of people that are doing different things, and they all have a different point of view. So, I was going to use unfocused. But I don’t think that’s the case, I think what you’re saying is people are focused, but in a dispersed, fragmented way. So, they have a fragment, they’re passionate about their fragment. But when you’re professionally polarized on top of it, now you’re polarized and fragmented, which means in the last piece of this is what I’m hearing as a theme, is that the profession is isolated, it’s isolated into its own definitional view of However, it’s being polarized and dispersed, it’s isolated there with an expectation of impact, which then leads to So the first is is polarized, it’s dispersed, it’s isolated, which means what I’m hearing between the tea leaves is that the impact is likely limited at the impact that you guys are espousing. In your in your last question of the promise of sales enablement. The current view, for example of it’s a system, when you have a dispersed and you’re isolated here, and you’re in a polarized spot, it’s really hard to impact the system. And so, I would say that you guys are saying that the current state of sales enablement is the impact to is limited, that the sales enablement profession has a limited impact. So, what do you guys think of that and feel free to correct me, that’s my my takeaway of what you believe is in the data.

Mike Kunkel 54:03

So, Brian, I would say that that’s, that’s true, unless people are already doing some of the things that we’ve talked about which some are, it’s a bell curve. But generally, I’d agree with that summary. And, you know, Tamra can speak to the CSO work, right, but I remember seeing some great work from CSO insights, talking about the maturity levels of sales enablement, and that at a formal Maturity Model level, there were positive impacts on on win rates, and quota attainment. And I’ve seen another study from sales enablement, Pro, showing that formal enablement with a charter add on the those two metrics as well. So, I think it’s relatively proven that sales enablement can make an impact. It’s just not making an impact. If it’s done, randomly polarized, dispersed, fragmented, and isolated, as you pointed out.

Brian Lambert 55:07

Thanks, Mike. Tamara, Josie, any any comments on my summary?

Josie Mashburn 55:13

I could not agree more with what Mike just said. It is a fragmented discipline today. It is a reactive discipline today. And in part that’s because of how sales operates. If you think about how sales operates, it’s it’s running a quarterly business, it’s a, it is a sprint to the end of the quarter, every single quarter. And when you get done, you sprint again to the next quarter. And you’re doing that constantly. And so, there’s no time to slow down and do things, right. And so, as a sales leader, if we are always running really, really fast, we just need others around us to run that fast. And I think that’s what causes us to just try to solve individual problems, instead of taking the time to step back and define the strategy and the execution model and gain the support that we need. So that we are executing in the right way. I think that’s the biggest challenge that we have. And that aligns to the summary that you just mentioned.

Brian Lambert 56:16

Which was a summary of what I heard you guys say about the data. Right? You’re summarizing the data. Tamra, your thoughts on my summary of your analysis?

Tamra Shank 56:28

Yeah, votes for me, for me, on a high level to get the key points on absolutely works for me. And I mean, Mike already quoted, the research we have done in the last couple of years, it’s really, I mean, it’s in the data, it makes sense, if it’s done the right way. And gabbeh was caught an idea discussed in an article previously is what I see there is not so much an intellectual gap that people don’t understand how it should be done. It’s that simply the, you know, they’re not able to do it in the environment, they are operating in for a couple of reasons we discussed during this during this podcast.

Brian Lambert 57:09

That’s right.

Tamra Shank 57:09

That’s the gap they really really have to focus on.

Brian Lambert 57:13

Thanks a lot. So, there you have it, Scott from the the synthesis here. And I’ll also say for the listeners, the episodes that we just did on leadership couldn’t be more timely, you know, as the anchor here, I’m not supposed to have an opinion. But I would suggest the leadership podcast that we just did, could help you out if you’re feeling like you want to take action. So, Scott, that’s the that’s the view from the field here on my analysis stuff is back to you.

Scott Santucci 57:45

Thank you. And we’re gonna wrap up this session, practicing a little bit what we preach. We have moments to learn every single time. What’s one thing that you’ve learned? And let’s see what we started with Josie to begin with. So, we’ll start with you, Josie, what’s what’s something that you learned?

Josie Mashburn 58:03

The value and importance of looking at, are we doing the right things? And are we doing the those things right?

Scott Santucci 58:13

Excellent. Mike.

Mike Kunkel 58:17

I think it’s that I am not alone, right, because sometimes it’s easy to feel like a lone voice talking about some of these things, when there isn’t a lot of alignment elsewhere. And I learned that, that amongst the group that we’ve got here today, there is tremendous alignment. And it’s the same kind of alignment, that sales enablement leaders should be seeking to garner and foster in their organizations. And if we start there, we have a much greater chance of success.

Scott Santucci 58:47

Excellent. And Tamra.

Tamra Shank 58:50

We have clarity on the challenges now it’s up to getting things right.

Scott Santucci 58:57

Perfect. So, with that, thank you so much. I, again, if you’re a insider nation, member, I can’t stress enough how impressed I think you should be by the feedback from our panelists. Look how thoughtful. They were look at the amount of expertise that they provided. They had open ended questions, we had no prep beforehand. All this was fluid in the moment. You saw people from different backgrounds. I don’t know how often you guys talk with each other. But it all came together really nicely because this is what happens when you have people who have lots of depth and expertise. And the reason that that can happen is because people have when you see somebody who’s got a lot of expertise, it’s easy to respect where they’re coming from. When you’re just commenting you know, just a comment, then it’s easy to disagree because you’re not really coming from a substance of having been in painfully having to implement these things, I can guarantee you if we had a show of all the lessons learned through pain, boy, that would be a very depressing show for all of us. So, thank you so much, Josie, Mike, Tamra for your participation inside our nation, I hope you are able to listen to this with an open, maybe beginner’s mind and sort through all this. There’s a lot of synthesis information. And then watch as we do more of these, we’ll be able to provide a collective viewpoint from different people have different perspectives about sales, and they want to help inform you. So, think globally, act locally, and be prepared. And please go out and find a way to follow our guests. And please thank them for their participation. I think you guys did a phenomenal job. And I think this is one of the best panels I’ve ever heard about in sales enablement. So, thank you very much for your participation. And with that, we’re going to wrap up our show. Thank you very much insider nation, please, please subscribe. Listen to some of the shows a lot of the topics have been covered. For example, Josie mentioned who your customers, Brian and I had a show just on that. We’ve talked a lot about stakeholder management. We’ve had three or four shows just on stakeholder management. As always give us your feedback, what’s working, what’s not working, what would you like to hear more of? And stay tuned. Mark your calendar on May 19. We’re having a webinar to share the findings of all this work. I don’t know what that answer is going to be. I can’t even write a write a description for it. But we’re Mark putting the putting the date in putting the date on the on the calendar and working backwards from there. Thank you very much. And we’re a wrap.

Nick Merinkers 1:01:53

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@insidese.com. You can also connect with him online by going to insidese.com. following them on Twitter or sending them a LinkedIn request.

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