BtoB Summit 2022

"Sales people have realized that the customer's need comes before the company's benefit and/or their personal interest..."
Guillaume LEGENDRE
Chief Executive Officer
Touch & Sell

Sales Enablement:
"10 years ago, we were aliens!"

BtoB Leaders had the pleasure to discuss with Guillaume Legendre, CEO of Touch & Sell, a major player in Growth Enablement. On the menu: his vision of how far sales practice has come in the last 10 years, his opinion on the two-speed evolution of technology (MarTech vs. SalesTech) and his prognosis on the future of the sales function in the next 10 years.

To begin with, can you go back over your professional career in a few words?
Of course I did. I did a Master's degree in e-business at a business school in Paris before moving to Montreal to work as a web project manager for the Polarweb agency. Back in France, I joined Reed Exhibitions, an experience that lasted more than eight years and that allowed me to develop a great digital experience as I was in charge of the e-business activity with about 40 exhibitions. 
I then joined Touch & Sell in October 2014 as Sales and Marketing Director to pivot the company from a communications agency to a software publisher. It was now about talking to sales people rather than marketers. Translated with (free version)

Technology has pampered marketers more than salespeople. In fact, the MarTech market is much more developed than the SalesTech market. What do you think explains this two-speed evolution? Is the sales function immune to change?
I think that managers in large, traditional B2B companies perceive salespeople as being resistant to change and unreceptive to technological developments. In reality, curiosity and open-mindedness are essential skills for the sales function. I think that the ball is in the court of managers who must evolve, engage their digital shift and instill this dynamic in their teams. Very often, the obstacles to digital transformation in the sales function are the managers, not the salespeople. Translated with (free version)

In recent years, we have seen a certain emancipation of B2B buyers who, better informed and more demanding, are tending to displace the salesperson from the purchasing process. Can Sales Enablement give the salesperson back his power of influence?
I think that the first answer to this problem is to give salespeople confidence. There is work to be done on consideration and recognition. This requires training in the rules of the art, individualized coaching, deployment of the right tools, etc. The salesperson must be perceived as a sportsman or woman who must be put in the best possible position to win. An athlete without a coach, a team, a framework and a sponsor cannot perform. 
This is where Sales Enablement and, to a greater extent, Growth Enablement come in. In short, it is a matter of focusing all the company's efforts on the sales person to put him or her in the best possible position. The sales profile is emotionally receptive. If they feel supported, they are bound to be better, even when dealing with a very demanding prospect. 

It's not only the BtoB Summit that is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. Touch & Sell is also celebrating its 10th anniversary. So you are well placed to tell us about the path taken by Sales Enablement in France over the last decade.
Ten years ago, we were simply aliens. We didn't even use the term Sales Enablement. We talked about Sales Efficiency, Sales Effectiveness, sales performance, etc. Today, it's different.

At the time, only a few companies were willing to capitalize on digital to develop the sales function. In general, these companies had a few avant-garde profiles who were mostly in an experimental mindset. After this experimental phase, we saw the emergence of profiles who appropriated this digitalization of the sales function and who carried it into the companies they joined.

We quickly realized that there was an ROI in this approach, with time saved for salespeople, an acceleration of the sales cycle, maximization of cross-sell and upsell opportunities, etc. We then added the whole personal development part, with training and coaching. As a result, the onboarding time for salespeople was divided by three, for example.

The market has therefore gradually become more structured, and Sales Enablement is appearing more and more on CEOs' agendas. I think that Sales Enablement tools are now following the same path as CRM did 20 years ago.

What do you think is the major difference between the Sales Director of the early 2010s and the DirCo of today?
The Sales Manager of the 2010s had to get the maximum figures from his CRM. His daily life was essentially focused on statistics and reporting. Consequently, he tracked down the salespeople who did not fill in the CRM. Sales performance was reduced to data entry on the tool.

In ten years, we have largely refocused on the individual. Sales are once again the result of the right speech at the right time, with the right arguments, a certain knowledge of the market and the competition... information that must be delivered to the salesperson on a plate.

What do you think are the decisive factors that have changed the practice of Sales in the last 10 years?
I think that sales people realized that the customer's need came before the company's benefit and/or their personal interest. This change in mindset has been decisive in the evolution of the sales function. Secondly, sales people have changed their relationship with their manager... the latter being there to help them (training, coaching...), not to track them through a CRM. Finally, I would say that the sales profile has become more important in the company. It is a rare and expensive profile that must be retained.

How do you see the evolution of sales in the next 10 years?
For me, the evolution is obvious. The salesperson will mobilize AI to interpret weak signals during his meeting, which will allow him to dynamically advance his opportunities in his CRM. This means no more manual data entry. Secondly, I think that cold customer contact will eventually disappear. Each interaction will have to justify a certain level of knowledge.