Sales enablement professionals – Why to be a “simpltist” AND a “linchpin”!

Back from the second Forrester Sales Enablement Forum in San Francisco, there are many topics to be shared and to be discussed. So, let’s get started:

One of these topics is the idea of being a „simpltist“. Scott Santucci ended his key note with the idea of being a “SIMPLTIST”.  This is a word made up by combining SIMPLE with SCIENTIST.
The “S” is shared by both SIMPLE and SCIENTIST.  The IMPL comes from SIMPLE and the TIST comes from SCIENTIST. So, what was Scott’s intention to come up with this idea?

As Scott said, „simple“ should be the first principle, to remove the complexity from the selling system which requires a holistic view and a reality based approach, as he explained.

Scientist“ should be the second principle, as Scott presented, because that’s about how sales enablement professionals are going to help make things more simple.  The need of a systematic approach to manage and to navigate complexity requires the application of science.

I agree with many thoughts, especially with the brilliant idea to create this one single word! But, I missed a few elements, the criteria of a linchpin, of an artist. So, I had to write a response and here are my thoughts. You can also check out the whole discussion on the Forrester sales enablement community.

There is a lot of wisdom in “simpltist”, a lot of dimensions that are really important for what we are doing (holistic view, reality based approaches, engineering and ongoing operations).

I’d like to share a few thoughts on “complex” versus “complicated”:
In German, we have these two words and they mean different things – I can imagine, it might sound well German engineered 😉
The complexity of a customer’s agreement network will always remain complex, we cannot reduce this complexity by cutting parts of that (which means deleting stakeholders), but we can provide frameworks, principles, structures and tools to make it easier and more efficient for sales reps to navigate this complexity. Another example is the variety of dimensions we have to consider as SE professionals, let’s say sales channels/segments, deal categories, account segments, content types etc. We will always have to consider these dimensions, because they are all essential parts of our selling system. But also here, we cannot reduce these complex dimensions itself, but we can provide frameworks, structures, tools etc. to navigate complexity, to think through, to be more efficient and more successful.

What we can do, is to make each dimension less complicated. An example are accounts that are not mapped to the legal account definition – that’s complicated. First, we have to manage much more data records and often also more account teams and people, second this view makes us less successful because we might miss opportunities. So, we can simplify the world by reducing the number of accounts down to legal accounts and we can be more successful at the same time, because that’s the view how our customers organize themselves and we have a better chance to see all budget centers and initiatives. We made one dimension, the account dimension, less complicated.
We can also reduce the variety of random acts of sales support – in EACH dimension, e.g. in the content dimension or in the training dimension.

So, there are many topics we can make LESS complicated and MORE efficient by using the ideas of a simpltist. But we won’t be able to reduce the variety of dimensions that make a selling system complex.
Navigating complexity by developing structures, models, frameworks and tools to be more efficient and more successful – and make each of the several dimensions less complicated, that’s our challenge!

Why do I miss something reviewing the „simpltist“ definition? Why do I miss the idea of a linchpin, of an artist? I think, we should better address the “right brained” dimension, the “HOW” we are evolving our discipline over time.

Here is why: The idea of a „simpltist“ is pretty much focused on scalable efficiency. I completely agree that we need that view. We need to define selling systems, operating models related to the business strategy and all these things. But HOW are we doing that and HOW are we driving people to change – not only their thinking but also their daily doing – within the cross-functional sales enablement discipline and how do we drive sales reps to change, to make a difference in their account teams and at the customer?

That’s why I love Seth Godin’s book “Linchpin” so much (grateful, that a friend recommended that book to me, it definitely changed my way of thinking). That’s exactly the reason why I opened my track session with this book! What is a linchpin?
As Seth Godin says, a linchpin is a person that is indispensable, an essential building block in great organizations – and guess what, why? Because linchpins are artists. An artist in this context has nothing to do with painting or sculptures (I love sculptures!!), what Seth Godin means is this: “An artist is someone who uses bravery, insight, creativity and boldness to challenge the status quo”.

That’s exactly what we are doing day by day! And this one is one of my favorite Seth Godin quotes:
“If there were a map, there’d be no art, because art is the act of navigating without a map.”

That’s exactly our situation! We have to write our own story, therefore we use the simpltist principles, structures and frameworks – of course. But, we all have a different map, we develop this map over time. And the criteria of an artist – bravery, creativity, insight, boldness – are all our “must haves”, that’s what we need to drive our journey in a successful, indispensable way.

The criteria of an artist, that’s what makes a difference, that’s how we tell our story, that’s how we drive change, how we address our challenges, how we inspire people to change.

So, back to Scott’s question:
From my point of view, a successful sales enablement professional is not only a simpltist, but also a linchpin. He/she is an artist and will make a difference. A successful sales enablement professional in a “linchpin and artist way” will touch people’s hearts, not only their minds. And that’s what we need to drive change!

Based on scalable efficiency – ready for scalable learning!

I’m looking forward to learn more about your thoughts! Chime and share your ideas!

What do you think about the simpltist idea and the left-brained and right-brained thoughts?

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