SPECIAL EPISODE 012: Sales Enablement Society Founder Scott Santucci Discusses the State of the Profession and the Three Things Sales Leaders Must Do to Show Value
SCOTT’S FINAL TIP TO EMERGING SALES LEADERS: “We really don’t ask enough about what’s valuable. Most of what we think about value we take for granted. Why should somebody care? Why is it valuable to them? How is it going to make their lives better? How are we going to help them think through even if they do want to buy it, how are they going to come up with all of the different hurdles that they’re going to experience?.”
This is a special episode with Scott Santucci, the founder of the Sales Enablement Society.
He’s the Chief Growth Catalyst of Growth Enablement Ecosystems.
He’s a leader in the sales enablement world and is an expert on many things that relate to the sales process, compensation, and methodologies.
He is a graduate of Virginia Tech.
Find Scott on LinkedIn!
Scott Santucci: Fred, you and I both know and everybody listening to this call knows sales isn’t linear. On top of that, when you want to do planning you want to be very rigid with who your buyers are but let’s face it, there’s so many stakeholders that we have to deal with. Those are the reasons why I started my own firm, Growth Enablement Ecosystem. It is really to take the best of research, the best of consulting and the best of maybe agency type practices and blend them together to figure out how to execute.
Fred Diamond: I want to give you some kudos here. I met you originally when we were launching the Sales Enablement Society.
You did, you brought a lot of people together and it was a great experience understanding the challenges of this concept of sales enablement and the Sales Enablement Society is thriving. You’ve had a couple conferences, you have chapters around the world and it’s really been one of the leaders in the concept and the discussion of the support needed to literally enable the sales process and accelerate it. Part of the mission of the Institute for Excellence in Sales, who of course is the sponsor of the podcast, is to help sales leaders hire, retain, motivate and elevate top tier talent in order to accelerate their sales process. You’ve learned a ton, Scott, I’m really curious. What are some of the things you learned from starting the society?
Scott Santucci: One lesson learned is for leadership, first followers are way important. If you’re a salesperson, for example, and you buy in or believe into the strategy of your sales leader, be one of the first people to help get it done. Don’t wait for it because if you don’t create momentum nothing happens. I’m super thankful for that. Then to give a little bit of context of where we’ve been through, to give people context of what I’ve learned. We started out just as a local meetup group, more like a premise. It wasn’t a goal and we had some meetings that made a lot of people like yourself very uncomfortable because we didn’t have agendas.
We had loose agendas but the discussions went all over the place. I think what was valuable about that is that everybody has a very strong opinion about what sales needs to be helpful. If you’re a sales person, there’s a lot of people behind you, the supply chain behind you that think very specifically what you need to do to be successful. If you’re a sales leader there’s a whole supply chain behind you also that wants to help, but what they’re doing to help is all over the place. Having that exposure was, “We need to take a step back because if we have all these random access sales enablement, all it does is confuse human beings into trenches.” That was one finding.
What happened is we had these local meetings that were very uncomfortable for a lot of folks. You should get Walter on to talk to him about how much he hate those initial meetings but he kept coming back and he said, “I don’t know why I kept coming back” [laughs] but what happened is we started to crystallize a little bit. We would have meetings and maybe about 20 people would show up and things like that, we would post out our findings on LinkedIn and lo and behold, other people around the country would start contacting me saying, “We want to start up a local meetup group like yours in our area. We got our DC group together and saying, “Should we be national?” We agreed to have a founding meeting, that was in November 16th, 2016. That was the official founding of the Sales Enablement Society, we had this meeting in Palm Beach and we invited people around the world to a continental congress and say, “This is what we want.” That’s how we established. Since then, the society has grown and it’s grown from this one local meetup to there are 50 chapters and 14 countries all over the world.
When you think about that, that’s a good growth. When you add in the fact that we take no money, because money creates influence and things like that and we’re trying to figure it out, everything is volunteer driven and nobody’s full time. To be able to do all those things and then have a conference – we’ve actually had 3 conferences – all those conferences had over 300 people participate. We’ve been able to create a platform where you can go and actually have a platform, like an enterprise class software for people to share information. Our membership has over 5,000 people and it’s a lot of growth, so what have I learned from that? What I’ve learned is #1, business problems today dealing with sales, there’s a lot of certainty but no one knows what they’re talking about.
One of the things that’s super challenging is that when we’re in sales we tend to think that somebody else has the answer and there’s a whole bunch of snake oils salesmen out there pedaling that but we also know that our gut, why don’t we just add value to our customers? The difficulty that we’re having, Fred, is we don’t really have space to ask questions about what our customers care about. Who actually are our customers in the first place? Who inside the company actually owns what the customers care about? You as a salesperson can say, “I talked to Steve at Johnson & Johnson and Steve says…” but in your internal review you’re going to say, “Johnson & Johnson says…” but that’s not true, that’s one person. There’s so many different people involved, how do you get that texture, that tapestry required for us as salespeople to have good conversations with clients? I think that’s #1 is that our focal point of driving sales is wrong. Our focal point needs to be, “How do we make our customers successful?” not, “How do we sell more of our products?”
Fred Diamond: Frequently one of the themes that comes up about why sales has changed so much over the years is of course because of the advent of the internet and social media, so the customers can get more information before they need to contact sales or the requirement for sales to explain things to them has radically changed. They can get that information on their own or from social meetups or things along those lines. Is that the main reason why you’ve seen that the process has changed or are there other reasons?
Scott Santucci: I think with anything, with regards to technology sometimes it’s valuable to take a step back and put ourselves in the buyer’s shoes. When you make buying decisions, there’s no such thing as one buying decision that you’re going to make. When you’re in the grocery store and you decide to say, “Maybe I’ll just get the Snicker’s bar and violate my diet” [laughs] that impulse item right there, you’ve made a buying decision. You don’t need any extra information, maybe subconsciously you need to be satisfied or whatever advertising has been bouncing around the head, but if you make a decision to maybe build a new deck on the back of your house, that’s going to be a lot more considered. People showing up with the best product, you might not even know, “What do I want in a deck in the first place? Do I need an architect, do I not need an architect? I don’t even know how to go about buying this.”
Your buyers are in the same boat so when we start thinking about the buying process’ change in these extremes, we’re not even thinking like humans. Our customers are in the same boat that you’re in and let’s basically put it into two buckets: bucket #1 is I’m a customer, I know what I want to accomplish. If people are going to go talk to me about their products and services etcetera, why do I want to talk to them? Everybody makes good products and services today, Fred. Everybody does and I can get them everywhere so why don’t I just let the procurement group squeeze people and save me some budget? Why do I even need to be involved?
That is happening in droves, but on the other side of the table, because technology is allowing so much innovation to happen – and I’ve got some stories about that that we can talk about later – but because it’s allowing so much innovation to happen on the buyer’s side, they don’t have the foggiest idea how to get started. On top of that, they don’t know all of the internal selling that they need to have to get done too. I hate to sound like I’m literary – is that a word?
Fred Diamond: It is.
Scott Santucci: Really it’s because I saw the movie but I act when I go to London that I read the book, the Charles Dickens story about, “It was the best of times and the worst of times”, it’s exactly that right now for sales. The worst of times, if we are equipped to try to talk about our products and services, guess what? Your customers know more information about it than you do.
Fred Diamond: Correct, or they think they do.
Scott Santucci: They absolutely do because they have so much more information available to them and you can’t keep up with all the information as a human being. On the flip side where it’s the best of times, the salespeople who concentrate on helping clients envision success, it’s never been better. We’re going through the same kind of – we talk about sales transformation. It’s no different, I think. There used to be door to door vacuum cleaning salespeople, you and I might remember some of those on the way in but most of the audience probably hasn’t realized that that’s even possible, but they were and they would go door to door.
That group of salesperson became extinct because you could advertise and get 60 demos at Sears and show the vacuum cleaning effect. That’s where we’re at right now, it didn’t replace all the salespeople. We have way more salespeople today in 2018 than we did in 1964 but the door to door vacuum cleaner salesperson is dead. That’s where we’re at.
Fred Diamond: So where do we go?
Scott Santucci: Good question. I think where we go is if you’re a sales leader – if you’re VP of sales – you need to start looking at your own sales force and say, “The customers that want to treat us like a commodity provider, we need to really radically reduce the cost of sales because it’s the only way we’re going to make any money, which means we need to move to an inside sales model. We need to adopt technologies and things like that. However, we have to dust off maybe our mass skills because we’re going to have to talk to finance about this, the 80-20 rule. 20% of our customers are probably producing 80% of our profits and we have no idea who they are. We need to be able to match our right resources there which means we need to build a different kind of model. Not a, “I’m going to be a quasi-solution selling person”, it’s all in but you can’t try to do both because both is not a winning strategy.”
That’s one thing. If you’re a salesperson, the way that you’re going to make money is by being that consultative person. Being a consultative person doesn’t mean showing up and having the answer, you need to help your customers think about buying into what’s possible, so I think where we go is we need to develop new sales methods. We’ve got a lot of great sales methodologies out there, they’re fantastic. A lot of them are predicated on the fact of, “I have a capability, I’m going to help you see the value of my capability.” If we’re going to succeed in where we are today, we have to go one step even further which means we have to help our clients envision something that’s possible, we have to be able to create that demand. We need a new sales process that’s “what’s possible” sales process.
Fred Diamond: Before we get to that, you’re an expert on buyers. A lot of people who are listening to the Sales Game Changers podcast around the globe want to be sales leaders at some point, they’re early in their career. We have a lot of high energy, I get emails from people all over the globe who love the show and want to meet the people that we interview. Give us some insights for them on the world of the buyer. We touched on that a little bit, but give them some insights on what is going on in the head of the buyer and of course a lot of people listening to the podcast are selling into the enterprise, so there’s not “a buyer” as we know, there’s dozens in some cases or upwards a dozen. Give us some insights from your work and your experience on what is going on inside their head these days about what they need to do to be successful.
Scott Santucci: Perfect, that’s great. Let’s think of it this way: let’s talk about some real life situations that at least maybe your audience doesn’t think these are a big deal, but they are to me. I had an opportunity to work with an office furniture company, and going into that you think, “This is going to be tough.” There’s a lot of individual chairs and tables and everything like that. Doing that 80-20 analysis I referred to earlier – that 20% of the customers, the most profitable – their most profitable business was not selling any individual tangible thing but space optimization strategies. Think about how intangible that is.
The reason that they had to do that is because of the changing nature of their environment. In their environment, you start off building fantastic, ergonomically designed chairs – these are like a few thousand dollar chairs. You enter in a global marketplace so IKEA can sell those things very cheap, or Chinese companies can sell them cheap, where’s your value at? A facilities person is looking at these things and says, “These individual chairs seem the same to me, why don’t we just send somebody to IKEA and build it and put it together? I don’t understand, and we can save a lot of money that way.” That makes sense in isolation.
However, when you start looking at some of the different businesses that they’re selling to, like a financial services company, what they’re interested in doing is maintaining a great culture because the product that they sell are humans. In order to keep those people happy, spending a few million dollars on super high end furniture that looks great and makes them happy is a perk to benefit. That’s what they were realizing, is these are the kinds of people that they’re selling to so instead of having a debate about $3,000 for a chair, $1,000 for a chair, they’re actually having multi-million dollar conversations with a completely different buyer. They still have to involve a lot of folks.
Fred Diamond: On that specific example, we did a great podcast with a woman named Susan Lee. She’s a VP of Sales for a furniture company called MOI.
Scott Santucci: Nice.
Fred Diamond: Coincidentally I know that’s not who your client was but she talked about the fact that they were selling employee satisfaction. At the end of the day, of course they’re selling office equipment, chairs and desks and cube equipment, things on those lines but that was how they shifted their mentality about providing value to the customer was employee retention by exactly what you just said, comfortable environment with high quality products, with great space, great design of the space, if you will, so a major shift there.
Scott Santucci: Now let’s imagine on the buyer’s side. That’s the scenario, every single one of the listeners here have a similar scenario. If you re frame what it is that you’re selling, who you’re selling to changes radically. Now let’s talk about the stake holders involved. Traditionally, if you just sell a chair you’re selling to probably a facilities manager. That facilities manager more than likely works in either an administrative function or a human resources function or in a procurement function. Regardless, it’s not a C-suite position, we’ll say and they think that they own that. “I’m responsible for it.”
Now somebody else comes along and says, “I’m the head of marketing and I want to design the most awesome customer experience facility possible. We have all this technology, but ultimately what are we going to put in this space, in the room itself?” That’s a great furniture opportunity. Who’s the decision maker there? Whose budget is it? Imagine the conflict. The marketing person is like, “What are you talking about? It’s a couple million dollars, let’s just go. We’ve got to get going, we’ve got to move forward” whereas the facilities person is, “That’s my job, that’s how I define my role.”
Now think about because marketing is in one department and the facilities person is a completely different department, think about the conflict there. Then when you start elevating it and saying, “We’re about employee retention or customer satisfaction” now we need bring in human resources. Who’s going to settle these disputes? We need to bring in finance. Is the CFO really going to want to participate in a conversation about a chair evaluation? No. Now the whole basis of what the ROI is has changed. Think about how all those people you navigate and all the tools and things that you know to be true for sure – like my ROI calculator and my pitch deck, etcetera – how are you going to give the pitch deck and the ROI calculator all of those different stake holders? No one knows what to do on the buyer’s side. They know what they want, but they have all that conflict and the thing that I want everybody to remind themselves is, in my personal opinion, with all the analytics and everything that we’ve gotten, we’ve lost side of the human side.
Let’s have empathy for the facilities person, that’s their job. The same kind of concerns that you have about your job, the people you’re selling to have concerns about their jobs and in this chaotic state people want to own more so they feel like they’re important so that their jobs are protected.
Fred Diamond: As a sales professional, at the end of the day you still need to sell the chairs. Yes, you need to also provide this value based on where the customer is going and you’re 100% correct on that but you also need to sell chairs. Are you saying that they’re no longer selling chairs?
Scott Santucci: That’s right, that’s the most amazing thing. This is a great debate, so yes. On a balance sheet, the order that you have, the billing materials, the ingredients that you’ve sold are the chairs, the tables and all of that other stuff but what is sold? What’s sold is the plan, what’s sold is what the space looks like. I’ve had a house and built for myself, I didn’t buy the wood, the appliances, the construction utilities etcetera, I bought a house and I bought it from Toll Brothers. Toll Brothers worried about all the different piece parts. Obviously, I did buy all the piece parts because they’re in the house but I bought a house. That’s really what we’re talking about here is if you think you’re selling the wood or the chair and not the customer experience room, they’re totally different and they’re totally different buyers.
Fred Diamond: Selling what’s possible. Before we get to a break and listen to one of our sponsors, give a little more insight because we’re going to talk about some specific things you could do to sell the possible. Before you do, what are some things that sales professionals today should be preparing themselves to do? For example, let’s say you’re 50 and you’ve been literally selling chairs and desks and now we tell you, “You need to be selling space optimization and all this”, that’s a huge transformation. Just give us an insight before we take a break and listen to one of our sponsors, what are some things that you are seeing high performing sales leaders and professionals do to get into this new space of selling what’s possible?
Scott Santucci: Let’s start with the space optimization strategy. Every company that is listening here has in the corporate strategy something like that because you’re doing digital transformation. AMC Movie Theaters is now a restaurant chains, their CEO comes from the hospitality space. The first point that I’m making: this isn’t for salespeople, this is for sales leaders. Take the time to take that transformation and simplify it into regular terms. What I did with you, Fred, was the space optimization part and mentioned it but then I said, “What is it like?
It’s just like buying a house. We know how to buy a house, that’s all we’re doing.” The amount of work I call this strategy translation is to translate the corporate strategy, whatever your digital strategy is, into something that’s accessible for folks. Then when you’re 50 years old, you can sell it. The other thing, too is when you paint it that way the 50 year old people actually have an advantage over the younger people because they have more of the empathy required to navigate.
If you’re a salesperson, what I’d like you to do is think about this as basically breaking down your sale cycle into three major phases: phase #1 is how do you create curiosity in the first place. If you get invited where people have a space optimization strategy and you want to hear it, #1 is you’re probably too late, somebody else helped paint that picture. #2 is you’re probably having a price conversation and #3 your ability to influence all of those stake holders is limited. Your chances are winning are small and you’re going to spend a lot of effort into it because you’re going to get excited about all the requirements, it’s going to get complicated and you’re going to bring a lot of internal resources. The thing that you need to do first is you need to help break down the rigid barriers that exist in everybody’s minds about how they think. Step #1 is you have to create curiosity.
Fred Diamond: Let’s do this, I want to get deep into this. We’re going to take a very short break, listen to one of our sponsors. Scott, we talked about the fact that you need to be selling what’s possible and we talked about how the sales process has changed. You said there are 3 things that sales professionals need to do. Let’s address those 3 things and let’s get deep into each of the 3.
Scott Santucci: Perfect. There’s 3 major stages and actually one of the things that you mentioned before the break is also super pertinent. If we as salespeople are going to add value, we need to be bringing value to our customers. They vote with their dollars, yes, but they also vote with their time. For us to be valuable by getting them to spend time with us, everybody says, “I wish the client would just tell me X, Y and Z” but why would they tell you if they don’t think you can add any value or if you don’t perk or ask the right questions or get the conversation going? When we thing about what’s the move of talking about our products is basically an exposition of talking about me. I’m the representative of that company, so what I need to do is I need to think about how do I help my clients envision what’s possible? That’s what they value from me, that’s the value that I can bring to bear.
The thing that I need to think through is, “How am I going to manage a campaign, a strategy pursuing my patch?” The first thing that I want to do is I want to create curiosity with the right stake holder. Obviously we talked about the furniture example, I’m not targeting that facility’s buyer. I’m targeting maybe the CMO or maybe I’m targeting somebody else, so how do I get them to be curious? That’s phase 1. Phase 2 is if I do get a meeting with them, what I have to help them do is recognize.
I think it’s possible, I have to help them realize it’s possible for their company which means we have to confront all of those hidden reasons of why they won’t buy when you leave. What are those hidden reasons? How do we think it through and how do we bring them out on the table to start off with? If we don’t do that, we’re not helping that client envision how they’re going to do all the internal selling. Step #3 is we have to help plot the course and become the advocate for our champion to help do the internal selling, participate with them. If we leave it up to them, they’re probably not the best at it, they’re probably not a great salesperson.
All the great salespeople that I’ve talked to do this, what I call unconscious competence. They partner with their client and they help sell internally, there’s different sells. S-E-L-L-S, not C-E-L-L-S. Those would be the different phases, underneath each one of course there’s some detail. “This is another process, I can imagine myself rolling my eyes hearing more about sales process.” This isn’t prescription, this is more like the creative process. We’ve gone through it if we’ve played sports and you talk about the process, you have to interact with it, you have to engage in it, or if you’ve done a creative endeavor like write a book.
Your editors talk about the process I’m sure, and it was frustrating [laughs] but it’s not, “You have to do this” because you can say, “Well, I did all that.” It’s not cutting a cheese, Fred, so we’ve got to rework it. It’s that kind of process, it’s not a rigid, prescribed process, it’s more of a creative process. In that there are measurable milestones, so let’s start there before we go into details. I don’t care what you’re selling, there are 5 binary things that you can think through. #1 is are you calling on the right people, yes or no? If you don’t know whether you’re calling on the right people or not, that’s a great conversation to have with your boss or sales leader, etc.
If you’re a sales leader, it’s a great conversation to have if you see disagreement about who we should be calling on with the product groups. That’s an immediate red flag because it means you’re targeting your resources differently, but it’s a binary thing, yes or no. The second thing that’s binary is do you get a meeting with them, yes or no? You can do all the activity in the world that you want, if you don’t get meetings with those right stake holders it doesn’t matter. This is where all of the resources factor in and whether or not you’re creating curiosity.
Step #3, do you have a successful meeting? In other words, does that client say, “Fred, that sounds awesome, I’m willing to explore that with you.” It’s a binary thing. It’s 100% verifiable by the customer. Step number 4, the fourth thing that we need to do is we need to be able to create a shared vision of success. We’ve talked about the customer having many sales to go get on board. Are you helping them get the right messaging where everybody buys into it? That’s super hard, it’s where most of the deals are dying on the line right now. That’s step 4, you either help them or you haven’t, yes or no.
Then the last stage is have you made a business case that they accept, yes or no? You know whether they did that or not by signing on the dotted line. That is our practical test, where do these three sales come in? The first one is we have to create curiosity because it’s super hard to get – first of all, we probably don’t know all of the “right” people to get to. If we’re out there talking about cool things like, “Have you ever thought about furniture this way?” or, “AMC is no longer a movie theater, we’re a restaurant” get people to think about it so they buy it and go, “Fred, tell me more about that.” That’s all you want, “Tell me more about that.”
You want to be paying attention to who is the person asking, “Tell me more about that” because you have changing buyer roles too. That’s part of the creating curiosity. Once they say, “Tell me more about that” now we can go into step #2 and step #2 is about how do I help them see that I can have an outcome? I don’t want to overwhelm people with too many steps but there are 6 attributes that you know from the buyer research that I’ve done that’s common.
One is can you paint a picture for me what an end state would look like? We don’t do that a lot of times, we talk about, “Imagine what it would be like with our product” but tell me what my world would look like. The next one would be make sure it’s through the lens of the executive who’s going to come up with the money in their language, and that’s really hard. The third thing would be how do you frame all the things that you do or all the things they need to do, how do you give them the ingredients to build the cake? How do you package it in terms of an initiative that they’ll take? Your clients fund initiatives, they don’t fund products.
Product budgets are always part of an initiative universally so if you don’t know the language of what an initiative looks like, learn it because it makes it easier for them to envision how to get the money. The next attribute would be how do you frame it in terms of a measurable result? This is where we overkill with all the data and everything like that, at this altitude level just make it, “Before it was this and after it was that.” Getting it from what to what and make it simple is really hard, but it’s critical for success if you’re going to be able to sell that way.
The next part then is you have to help that executive buyer understand all the impact at stake holders and it would behoove you to also plot out who’s going to provide resistance. For example, if you’re in the tech space and you’re selling anything with cloud you should always say to a CIO or whomever, highlight where the friction is going to be between the apps people and the infrastructure people and the security people. If you don’t do that, they’re going to complain about you because you’re the change agent and those people don’t want to change, and without any other information that executive is going to think they’re rejecting your proposal rather than you’re uncovering gaps inside his organization. Mapping out those impacted stake holders is incredibly important.
The last one is to give them a journey and I don’t mean a buyer’s journey, what I mean is a benefit realization journey. If they say, “This is what it’s going to look like, of course you’re going to get push backs. Fred, they’re going to give you all kinds of push back like, “We don’t have time to do that”. They’re going to give you all these reasons so you need to be able to say, “Wait a second, you can get this value here quickly and then you can get this value here in your next phase and this value here in your next phase.” This is how it works.
Fred Diamond: This makes so much sense and it fits in perfectly with a lot of the things that we’ve heard over the various interviews of the Sales Game Changers podcast. Give us your advice, what are two or three things that the people listening need to do today to be valid as a sales professional or sales leader moving forward for the next 3 to 5 years.
Scott Santucci: I love that question. If you’re listening to this, sometimes I’ve been called a crystal-loving hippie with the first answer but I can’t stress enough how important this is: the first thing that we need to be able to do is we need to develop bifocal lenses. What I mean by that is we need to be able to think both in the short term and the long term. It’s a really hard thing to do, so what I would suggest that we do is during our dead time – not always, I know the urgency, you get tons of pressure from your management, what are your activities, you get activity to death. You don’t create the space in your head to think about, “What could I be doing differently?”
Step #1 is carve out that space and just ask yourself, “What could I be doing differently? Who could I talk to? How do I have open ended questions to that and be comfortable knowing that I don’t know the answer?” I cannot stress how important that is. The second thing that I would do is underneath that banner, the less crystal-loving hippie is more practical. When you go on a sales call, imagine that you have more information and that you’ve seen the problem and the situation that you’re talking about more often than the person you’re talking to. If you don’t have that confidence and you allow yourself to get pulled into a conversation in the weeds, you’re not adding value #1, and #1 why would they be talking to you? It is a really hard thing to get that kind of confidence because the people that you’re talking to have such certainty in their language and they have vocabulary that you maybe don’t know what they’re talking about.
Maybe you’re meeting a CFO for the first time and they throw all this lingo at you that you think is so precise. Side note: if it were precise we wouldn’t have had the whole meltdown in the financial services space, if everybody knew exactly what was going on. Have the confidence that says you are involved in solving problems that they haven’t, and make sure that that’s how you think. Changing that attitude or perspective is huge.
Fred Diamond: Again, Scott Santucci is the founder of the Sales Enablement Society, Chief Growth Catalyst of Growth Enablement Ecosystems. This fits in so much, Scott, with what we’ve been talking about, what we see all the time is it really goes back to the value story of how are you providing unique value for the customer? The customer’s not just looking for the best price on chairs – they are, of course but they have bigger challenges. You’ve got to be thinking about them so much and I like what you said. You’ve got to be talking to people, you’ve got to read the blogs and stuff but you’ve got to find ways – especially if you’re in the younger side, early part of your career – you’ve got to find ways to talk to the buyer and intimately know the buyer, intimately know what their challenges are, where their industry is coming.
We’ve interviewed so many great salespeople in the podcast and I began to notice a couple of things. One of them was they served markets for 20, 30 years. Maybe it’s federal, maybe it’s commercial, maybe it’s financial, maybe it’s media but they’ve served customers for 20, 30 years so they’ve gotten to understand what’s going on in the customer’s side. If you’re early in your career, you haven’t had that history. You haven’t developed the relationships but to take your career in today’s sales world, in the emerging sales world like we talked about. You need to figure out how to get real smart, real fast on the challenges that your customer is facing and how you can provide that unique value.
Scott, I want to thank you for the information today, you’ve given us such great information. Why don’t you give us one final thought? Again, you’ve given us so much here. This is a course in 30 somewhat minutes, but you’re one of the brightest guys on sales process. Again, you created one of the eminent societies, the Sales Enablement Society. Curiously, why’d you call it the Sales Enablement Society as compared to the Sales Enablement Professional Association or something like that?
Scott Santucci: On that note, what I originally called it was the DC Local Area Sales and Marketing Meetup Group.
Fred Diamond: Interesting.
Scott Santucci: Other people came up with the idea of that. What I like about society is I love the idea of community and when I think about society, I’m a throwback, I’m a big history nerd and a big throwback to when Ben Franklin talks about community. You don’t leave the lowest people behind, you always try to do that and also the leaders have to be accountable for it too. That idea of a society, a community is something that really resonates with me, I think to the point what we were talking about earlier on is you have to be able to have a safe place to talk about these things.
That’s really the idea, is to create a community where it’s more conversation-driven, not structure and “This is the way you have to be” driven because the only way we’re going to figure it out is by having conversations. I really like that idea of a society, of where the more we challenge ourselves the more our community thrives rather than it’s a society to get rewards or certifications or things like that. That kind of credentialism doesn’t attract me. I like the days where Abraham Lincoln can become a lawyer because he read the books himself and did it, not because the ABA says he’s a lawyer.
Fred Diamond: So many of the young sales professionals listening to the podcast ask me, “What can I do, what should I do?” There’s so many things you should do but the first thing I say is, “Just talk to people who have been successful, they would love to talk to you.” So many people we’ve interviewed for the podcast and at the Institute love to give back, would love to mentor, love to tell stories, would love to help you on. Of course, you’ve got to be respectful. You’ve got to know what you’re asking. A lot of the senior professionals we talked to are like, “Don’t just ask me to be your mentor, tell me what you need help with. Is it how do we talk to the CEO, how do I get into the customer, how to be a professional?” Give us one final thought, Scott. Give us one final thought to bring it home and wrap this up.
Scott Santucci: This is like a big idea final thought. We’ve talked about value a lot, we’ve talked about the value that our salespeople bring, the value of us as sales professionals but we really don’t ask enough of that question about what’s valuable. All this change that’s happening right now, I think we’ve lost sight of where the value really is, so think of it this way: when you go on to your screen and you go www.google.com, what happens? You have more or less a blank screen with a blank box that just says Google on it. That thing has created one of the 7 most valuable companies in the planet. That thing is incredibly valuable.
Or if you use Facebook and you put your pictures up there, you don’t own your pictures, by the way. Facebook does. That thing of just sharing and liking stuff is one of the 7 most valuable companies on the planet today. Most of the things of what we think about value is we take for granted. If you think about value, at least what I learned, I learned one of the most deadly sins when I was learning to sell, Fred, was never sell Vapor Ware.
Here we are in 2018 and what’s the most valuable thing in the tech space is selling the cloud, what’s a cloud? Literally it’s a water vapor. You can’t even comprehend what value is, and I think this is all part of this digital transformation that we’re in and the value that we offer is to help people envision what’s possible. The thing that makes it valuable in that Google search, Fred, is what you type into it. You don’t know all the ways that you can use it, you have to rely on other people. That’s what we have the advantage to do today. As salespeople, we cannot concentrate on getting the weeds.
Why does it matter to learn 8 different widgets about feature function X, Y and Z? Our customer is going to know more and they’re not going to believe us anyway. What we can do more than anybody is to sit down and think, “Why should somebody care? Why is it valuable to them? How is it going to make their lives better? How are we going to help them think through even if they do want to buy it, how are they going to come up with all of the different hurdles that they’re going to experience? How can I sit on their side of the table and help them?”