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Special Edition! Inside the Conference Board Sales Enablement Council Meeting (Ep #6)

By Scott Santucci, Brian Lambert

Welcome to the Inside Sales Enablement Podcast, Episode 6 What's going on in the Sales Enablement space? Especially with companies pushing the envelope?In this special edition, Brian Lambert catches up with Scott Santucci after a two-day Council Meeting of Sales Enablement Executives.At the beginning of 2018, the Conference Board received requests from its members (large businesses) to form a council to explore the emerging role of sales enablement in order to establish the foundations for developing and running this new function. Members include leaders from large companies representing diverse industries such as:financial services,high technology,business services,hospitality,and manufacturing.   The group is invitation-only and works to create insights based on the practical experiences of its members. Scott Santucci serves as the program director of the group (on a contract basis).  Through the process of norming, storming, and forming - the group is developing new ways to gain insights from different industries.   When you look at the forest from the trees, new patterns begin to emerge.   What we are learning is that for B2B sales, the sales execution problems that Intercontinental Hotels Group and Microsoft are far more similar than they are different.   Regardless of your industry, the practice of B2B selling is similar.You need an overarching "one company" value proposition that is more detailed than your brand, but less specific than products Your company is organized into product-based silos, but you need to bring a different, integrated, and more consistent experience to customersYou have many different stakeholders involved in a sale - there are "buyers" who give you a hunting license and then "buyers" who drive usageThe challenges sellers have navigated the 'agreement networks' within large companies is easy to explain through experiences (in the readout to executives we performed a 10 min skit to illuminate the challenge) but hard to conceptualize is traditional management consulting readouts, metrics, and charts. The solutions to fix these problems are actually simple when you follow design thinking concepts, work collaboratively across organizational silos and focus on the actual experience of customers.  However, explaining the approach sounds excessively complicated and far too risky based on managements comfort level with traditional projects.   In addition, because the solution required cutting across so many different organizational functions, identifying an executive sponsor and gaining the funding to even start a pilot program can be challenging. The council is still forming and deciding what concepts to share, how to test insights and ideas the group comes up with, and how to publish its findings.  Here are things it's agreed to so far.The emerging role of sales enablement is a by-product of the digital transformation of our economyThe value of the function is unique compared to other functions - it creates value by eliminating things The council believes that for sales enablement roles to add value to their businesses, they must be organized as cross-functional groups The council has embraced a "business within a business" framework to provide the foundation for this new role The council has also developed a review process to develop insights and then methodically test those ideas within the member organizationsTo this end, the membership as adopted the midwest mindset of "show me" when reviewing the various claims, reported data, and various "best practices" advanced by industry experts and management consultants.  Our members have engaged virtually all of the management consulting firms, read reports from industry analysts, and are evaluating most of the technologies provided.  The group has decided to focus on sharing its experiences with these groups and what results (or problems) they create.The #1 thing our members have learned is they learn from each other through actual experiences (working on team exercises or case studies) and in the meeting June 17-18 in Atlanta, the council was hosted by Intercontentinal Hotels.   In this meeting, IHG openly shared its business challenges (all council members are under NDA) and other council members broke into groups to provide a readout of findings and recommendations to IHG business leaders.  In this session the guys cover:How the Conference Board was founded 106 years ago during a changing economy and how that relates to today's digital economyWhat exactly IS a council - who is it comprised of, why, how does it work? How is the idea of 'sales enablement' forming and taking root in large enterprise organizations? How do you set up a working case study and what was the agenda and format of the meeting?What were some of the lessons learnedTopics include:- The concept of "stratecution" - how important it is to blend strategy and execution - Using a "letter to shareholders" format to sell the vision and promise of sales enablement internally - Why creating b2b value propositions is so much more challenging than you think it is - How do the concepts of customer loyalty and experience blend with a value proposition - Why creating a new tool kit for how to drive programs is so important and what industries can learn from each other - The importance of getting many groups together and why overcoming "English to English" translation is such a key to success  We realize this is a long episode, but it is jam-packed with the collective insights of companies who are driving sales transformation and innovations from within their companies.  It will be a while before these ideas crystallize into 'best practices' or programs you can buy off the shelf so this will give you the opportunity to hear what's on the mind of other executives seeking more proactive ways to address the revenue generation challenges facing their businesses. 

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