It was a genuine honour and pleasure to kick off the inaugural European version of the Sales Enablement Soirée. The US version, that's been running for a few years now, attracts 1000+ attendees so the events organisers, Salesenablement.pro, have high hopes this success can be replicated in Europe. And with around 300 attendees for the event's first outing they've every right to think this is achievable. I also think these numbers signal just how much Sales Enablement and its ever growing community of professionals are craving opportunities to listen, learn and share. From personal experience I know that trying to establish and work in a new and emerging area can sometimes be pretty damn lonely. Therefore at a basic human level getting in a room with 300 like-minded people can be food for the soul!
So, what did I talk about?
As the first keynote speaker I felt I had a duty of care to spend the majority of my session setting the scene. To not only provide a context and backdrop to the sessions that would follow but also to help educate those in the audience relatively new to Sales Enablement. There's still a pretty big range of understanding (from a little to a lot) in the profession so establishing some common ground I felt was essential. During the latter stages of my presentation I started to introduce my thoughts on how I see Sales Enablement needing to develop in the coming years.
What's next for Sales Enablement?
Having been someone who's spent a big chunk of their career in B2B marketing I've seen first hand marketing's battle to keep up with a rapidly changing B2B Buyer. It took a decade before B2B marketing finally started to get its head around the fact that, first and foremost, it needed to see the world through the eyes of the buyer and not the seller. This is what Sales Enablement needs to start doing. There is a boat load of research to support why this needs to be the mindset shift but the most compelling I've come across is Gartner's The New B2B Buying Process report. I therefore concluded this section of the presentation with some observations from the report and what it means to Sales Enablement practitioners.
I closed by sharing a case study (when the AV finally worked... d'oh) of a project we've been working on with a client over the past 9 months. Content that actually shows Sales Enablement in action is pretty thin on the ground at the moment so I really wanted to bring some colour and reality to the room. The project in question was a next generation Buyer Persona tool that we developed for widespread usage by sales teams in a global Financial Services and Technology company. I'm really pleased we did this as it sparked a huge amount of interest and conversation across the remainder of the day.
There was enough time for some Q & A. Now, I'm not just saying this but I genuinely enjoy taking questions from an audience at the end of a speaking slot. I like to be quizzed or challenged, it's validation that my content sparked some interest or curiosity. However, there's an unspoken professional line that I think 99.9% of people in business don't cross in this scenario. That line is, even if you really don't agree with what's been said, don't publicly attack or become aggressive towards the speaker. This line was ignored by one individual who fired a line of questioning at me, to which I responded, only for them to go at it again. The tone of the exchange clearly made the room uncomfortable. Whilst I'm happy to defend my views or ideas it needs to be part of a constructive exchange not a stream of corporate heckling. If you really want to have a pop then let's do that 1-2-1 not 1-2-1-with-300-people- listening. This was not Prime Ministers Question Time it was a Sales Enablement Soiree.
Aside of this little blip, it was a great event, the panels and speakers that followed were to a really high standard. Big insights from the keynotes washed in with some real world grit and war stories from the panellists.
Excited already for the Sales Enablement Soirée 2020.