November 18, 2019

TRANSFORM 2019: Sales Enablement on Both Sides of the Atlantic 

It’s 4pm November 6, and I’m sitting on a plane on my way home to Germany, taking my laptop out to write about two fantastic Sales Enablement events: TRANSFORM London and TRANSFORM Chicago. No other Sales Enablement events on the planet have inspired nearly 1,000 attendees on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.

TRANSFORM 2019: Fueled by passion,  engagement, learning, sharing, and lots of Showpad customers

It’s hard to summarize such an abundance of inspiring presentations, conversations, and moments, but I’ll try my best. Showpad CEO and Co-founder Pieterjan Bouten kicked off both events, sharing the latest transformations happening at Showpad and the company’s very impressive growth journey to a top-notch integrated Sales Enablement platform that connects the dots between content, training and coaching, all with the aim of enabling the best buying experience. I’ve been familiar with Showpad for many years now. I made my first contact with the company at a sales event in Belgium hosted by Minds & More back in 2014. The company’s accomplishments ever since are truly amazing and, as PJ said, are only the beginning.

Showpad Chief Product Officer and Co-founder Louis Jonckheere focused his keynote on why engaging and enabling sellers is not enough; instead, engaging buyers is critical to effective Sales Enablement efforts. Whether the future will be revenue enablement, as Louis suggested, is up for discussion. What we can all agree on is the integration required along the entire customer’s path – from marketing to sales to service. That’s a Sales Enablement scope we use in our definition at CSO Insights. At the end of the day, what’s important is how you run Sales Enablement, whatever name you choose to give it.

At the end of the day, what’s important is how you run Sales Enablement, whatever name you choose to give it.

Getting inspired: How to win customers in a world of AI, bots and automation

What a truly insightful and inspiring keynote by author Steven van Belleghem! He shared a ton of insights, such as the need to focus on direct customer relationships, especially in an age that’s dominated more and more by technology platforms such as Amazon and Google. And the scenario is real: What if your brand is not Amazon’s favorite, and they present other brands to “their” customers that should actually be your customers? It was all about the question of how to leverage and master the second part of the AI “S” curve, which concerns generating more growth in a shorter amount of time.

It was also very interesting to discuss the relationship between humans and machines. The attributes that make humans unique – empathy, creativity, and passion – won’t be replaced by machines. But marketers should build their efforts on one foundational trend Steven sees: Customers’ desire for ultimate convenience. A lot of food for thought! 

Storytelling at its best: memorable, impactful and personal

We all know the human attention span is decreasing as we speak – it’s only an average of eight seconds! That creates real challenges, not only for salespeople but also for all of us. We learned from writer and animator Matthew Luhn’s inspiring keynote what the key elements of great storytelling are: being unusual and unexpected, with the combination of action and conflict. And I was happy to hear that great stories are about transformation and follow a structure. Transformation and structure connect the dots to sales, especially for me as a systems thinker.

For buyers, every buying decision is a transformation. It’s about the transformation from a defined current state (the diagnosed business problem) to the desired future state (their vision of success). And just like in storytelling, structure is key to success. In sales, we all know that only processes and methodologies follow a certain structure that’s dynamically aligned to the customer’s path, but the lessons of what constitutes an effective story can always be applied, no matter what curves a customer throws at you.

I don’t want to talk too much about my own keynotes (which I truly enjoyed at both events), sharing what sets Sales Enablement winners apart based on our 5th Annual Sales Enablement Study. Whenever you’re on stage and see lots of smartphone clicks, people taking notes and paying attention for 45 minutes (and right after lunch!), engaging with all of your hand-raising questions, something is really inspiring your audience!

Integration and flexibility powered by insights are top themes for Showpad’s ambitious product roadmap

Gaurav Kotak, Showpad’s Vice President of Product Management, took the audience on an inspiring journey regarding the future of the Showpad solution. I especially liked the portion detailing content analytics, buyer analytics, and seller analytics. That combination should deliver highly valuable insights if – and that’s the most critical element – humans really take the time to understand what these metrics actually mean and how to use them to become better. In addition, the coverage of content localization requirements, as well as the continued expansion of both CRM and sales engagement technologies, will enrich the solution suite even more.

Showpad customers share one thing despite their differences: a passion for Sales Enablement

Showpad customers shared a ton of insights and experiences in a variety of panels and presentations. What I see in the market was all represented on stage: Sales Enablement sitting in different places in the organization – from sales to marketing to product and HR – and Sales Enablement leaders who are truly ready to make an impact, with very tailored approaches to solving specific problems in their organizations.

We heard about great approaches to improve cross-functional collaboration, boost onboarding and position Sales Enablement in the attention age. We also learned about the importance of taking a formal charter-based approach, how to drive impact along the entire funnel, and much more.

Another key message was that measuring the business impact of Sales Enablement remains a challenge. From measuring Sales Enablement efforts (e.g., consumption, completion, clicks, downloads, shares, etc.) to actual business results, there is still a long way to go. As we know from our 5th Annual Sales Enablement Study at CSO Insights, only about 25% of organizations have a systematic approach to measuring the ROI of their Sales Enablement efforts. 

Sales Enablement for 2020 is already here. Just a few weeks to go. Budgets are either done or being wrapped up now. Even if you missed TRANSFORM 2019 in London or Chicago, I’m sure there’s lots of content to help you get 2020 off to a great start on Accelerate, the new platform for Sales Enablement professionals powered by Showpad.

Ready to make selling easier?