My Experience With Vendor Neutral at The Sales Enablement Society Conference

“The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.” – Corretta Scott King

While reading up on this idea of “community” this morning for a project I am working on, I stumbled on this quote from Corretta Scott King. The timing here, was somewhat apt as we are just two weeks in the wake of the Sales Enablement Society’s second annual conference. The conference kicked off with Scott Santucci paying tribute to Robert Racine and their shared vision of openness, sharing and collaboration as a community that exists for the good of its members. This message really resonates with me. It also served as a reminder of why the society was created in the first place.

We are in a very noisy and changing space, that for young professionals, in particular, can be very hard to navigate and unpack. Being one of these young professionals, I like to attend these conferences with a totally open mind, and with no one single self-serving goal. These are gatherings of the greatest minds in the industry and thus a great opportunity for learning and networking. In addition, they are a playing field for the most active sales technology vendors.

The sales tech space has exploded in recent and it’s a lot to take in. It can be hard to really tell them all apart especially as they seem to position the exact same business and sales outcomes.

As a result, a new organization has emerged to help sales leaders and enablement practitioners approach the sales technology landscape. They are called Vendor Neutral and are the brainchild of Dan Cilley. I’ve known Dan for a little over a year now and he has been a tremendous resource and friend to me. He asked a couple of months ago if I would help with his experience room at SES2018 in Denver and I was happy to oblige. Those of you who were there will have seen Chris Kingman and I running interviews with various sales enablement professionals. We got a lot of great content that we’ll be sharing over the coming weeks. It was really fantastic being able to hear from the people who are out there, in the trenches with both sales reps and sales leadership.

The area that interested me most within the Vendor Neutral space was the blank canvas they had displayed. The canvas was the sales tech vendor landscape, but with no logos on it. Instead, they provided red stickers for people to put on what categories they deemed most important. Besides the broad “sales enablement” section, the two that were most populated were “skill development” and “knowledge sharing”. I think this is a very important discovery and I would actually hypothesize that these are, relatively, the least catered categories.

For the former, I’ve thought for a while – and this was validated by the ladies I sat with on the last morning – that we’ve seen the pendulum swing all the way to the technology side of the spectrum but that the market is demanding it swing back towards center and towards a more human-centric approach to skill development. Sales software is powerful and helpful and can be leveraged to do great things, but it is not a silver bullet. As for the latter, we have got to start sharing ideas and knowledge. Looking at my own career, I’ve learned the most from peers and mentors in a totally unstructured manner. I have been through an awful lot of formal sales training in my life through traditional sales methodology vendors and I can recall very little of it. Let’s enable reps to learn from each other.

These are just a few observations of my own, and it’s due to the likes of the SE Society and Vendor Neutral that I am afforded the opportunity to observe. I love the open collaboration between like-minded people. I was happy to heed Dan’s call for help because he’s a genuine guy and I believe in his cause. The more sharing, collaboration, and “compassionate action” we can foster within our community, the better off we’ll all be.


About the Author:

For ten years, Greg Smith has meandered through the ever-changing world of Sales Enablement. From being an SDR to Account rep, to running strategic partnerships, he’s seen all angles. His brand, Bambu, exists to elevate the image of the sales profession, shine the light on collegiate sales education, and champion his fellow millennials. He is also an associate of, a leading methodology consulting firm. His big drive right now is working on a sales training startup that is currently in stealth mode but that will endeavor to change and improve the way salespeople learn.