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SES 2017: Hot Themes and Topics

 

 

Interest in Sales Enablement is growing exponentially if attendance at the Sales Enablement Soiree in San Francisco this past week is any indication. One of the planning committee members shared that this year’s enrollment was up more than 400% over last year’s event.

 

Each of the panel sessions I attended was SRO. And for good reason – the panelists were informed, insightful, and open. The folks from Salesforce .com – Karen Hennessy, Jared Litwin, Lorri Bates, Beth Kaplan – provided insights into how SE is organized at Salesforce.com and some of the keys to their success. Thank you for sharing.

 

When asked about the most important driver of success, they pointed to the involvement and engagement of senior leadership. This point was also emphasized and reiterated by panelists such as Amanda Breckenridge from LinkedIn, Chanin Ballance of Veelo, Julie Newhouse of Lyft, David Kerr of Octiv, and others.

 

Yes, senior leader sponsorship is a well-known and oft-repeated axiom.  But the nuance these panelists added is the need for senior leadership involvement and engagement. And continuity of senior leadership’s involvement and engagement. The implication: sponsorship by itself is not sufficient to drive change and produce results. Hear, hear!

 

 

AI was also a topic discussed by many at Dreamforce and SES. The trend in using AI to make transactional sales more convenient to buyers and to differentiate vendors continues. Conversations among panelists, vendors, and attendees addressed the increased functionality of AI software in developing purchase requirements and specifications, provisioning product feature and price comparisons, etc. It was interesting to hear about new AI capabilities – such as those offered by ChorusAI.com – that push context relevant content to sales people and account representatives while they are engaged in conversations with prospects and clients. This suggests that AI may provide support and assistance with the broader challenge of knowledge management in sales and service. 

 

It also suggests that the roles of the sales professional and sales manager are undergoing fundamental change. Jim Dickie spoke of the role shift as one away from the transactional to “interactional”. Others observed that the changing roles emphasize skills, knowledge, and competencies that differ from the mix that was required in the past. Keep an eye on this one…it’s not as visible as other changes in the SE landscape and may take longer to adapt to the changing selling environment.  

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