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Mavens of Modern Sales – Paul Butterfield

A Sales Growth Company
May 25, 2024

Welcome to Mavens of Modern Sales, where we take a deep dive with the sales leaders pulling sales teams in the 21st century to get their insights on leadership, strategy, industry trends, and more.

This week we talked to Paul Butterfield, founder of the Revenue Flywheel Group and the Customer Journey Enablement™ methodology and host of the podcast Stories From The Trenches.


Paul, thanks for taking time to meet with us, you’ve been in sales enablement for a long time, what do you think is the biggest change you’ve seen since you started? 


The ability to correlate and capture the revenue impact of enablement activities/programs. Coming from years of sales and sales leadership I wasn’t interested in checking boxes and found ways to do this from the start but 12 years ago it was very manual and we were over-dependent on leading indicators. Now there is tech available that will capture leading and lagging indicators and correlate them with very specific enablement activities.


Understanding this, what is one thing that was present back in the day, that is no longer practiced or present that you wish still was. 


Many sales reps and teams have forgotten or never developed the art of effective prospecting and filling their own pipeline. I’m a fan of the SDR model in most ways but not at the cost of reps that are helpless and/or lazy about generating their own opportunities. Developing a territory plan and working it to create a balanced pipeline with enough revenue at every stage to hit quota this quarter and next is a critical skill too many aren’t using.


I understand you’re writing a book, tell us more about that and when should we expect it out?  

My book is about what I call Customer Journey Enablement™. It’s a term I came up with a couple of years ago to describe the holistic enablement strategies and programs that I’ve found to be most effective in impacting revenue. Too many rev orgs focus solely on enabling the sales teams without regard to the other teams and touchpoints that impact prospects and customers. When done correctly it elevates the entire customer experience and becomes a competitive differentiator. My publisher is targeting mid Q4 this year for release.


You were President of the Revenue Enablement Society for 2 years, and you’ve hosted the RES podcast for more than 4 years that’s quite impressive. How did that experience shape you AND how did you shape sales enablement through RES over those years?  

Thanks – I’ve led many organizations of different sizes in my career but never a non-profit that is run by pretty much all volunteers. For me that required developing a different leadership approach which was challenging but rewarding. When I was elected to the role I had specific objectives I wanted to achieve with the board of directors and we accomplished most of them. In 2022 we were still the “Sales Enablement Society” which I felt had become an outdated term. The board agreed with me so we did a major re-brand to the Revenue Enablement Society and launched it at the 2023 annual conference. My 2nd major objective was to re-vitalize the local chapters. As a former chapter president I believed the chapters were the lifeblood of SES/RES but after Covid lockdown most had struggled to continue. We put dedicated resources into recruiting and supporting local chapter leaders and by the time I left in January 2024 we’d seen a major re-vitalization of chapters all across the U.S. and EMEA.


I know you have your own sales enablement company that helps organizations build enablement strategy and programs.  When you go into a new organization what’s the first thing you tell the CEO/CRO to ensure the engagement is successful? 


I let them know for the type of transformation I’m brought in to help initiate to be successful they have to be fully and publicly committed. Talking about the changes and why they’re backing them is important but so is effective change management. If they’re not expecting, inspecting and measuring and challenging leadership to execute then anything I help them implement won’t stick.


“Sales is in trouble.” This is a term that we keep hearing in 2024, do you agree, and if so what role did sales enablement play in getting us here and what role can it play in getting us out? 


I think it’s more about what enablement teams didn’t do than that they did anything to bring about the current state of sales. Too many enablement leaders and teams were too focused on creating elaborate charters and tracking vanity metrics like attendance and feedback scores. What they weren’t doing was mapping out a comprehensive strategy that aligned with the top 3 revenue outcomes executive leadership cared about. Without that strategy in place they weren’t able to identify the enablement initiatives metrics that would track whether those initiatives correlated with increased revenue.


Finally, you’re a golfer and like to get out on the course a few days a week. Do you see parallels between golfing and sales enablement?


Yes! A good golfer will take the time to analyze and evaluate the course and individual holes before taking their first swing. They’ll evaluate the various approaches to each green, consider the risk/reward ratio of each and create a plan to play each hole efficiently with the fewest strokes possible. Then they have to execute that plan effectively. No matter how well they planned there will be poorly hit or missed shots and unexpected challenges but since they have a strategy they know what adjustments they need to make to still succeed.

There has been an ongoing debate in the enablement community about tactical enablement vs. strategic enablement which to me is missing the point. Like the golfer without a strategy, enablement activities will be random at best and distracting/ineffective at worst if the team hasn’t analyzed the rev org in advance to identify gaps in performance and put together a plan to address them and measure success.


Paul R. Butterfield is the founder of the Revenue Flywheel Group and the Customer Journey Enablement™ methodology. He designed, built and led high impact revenue enablement strategies and teams for Vonage, G.E., NICEinContact and Instructure. He’s advised Go-to-Market leaders from Expedia, ABB, Aspen Media, Orbitz, TalkDesk and Red Wing shoes in change management and methodology adoption.Prior to his career as a revenue enablement leader he led channel and direct sales organizations for world class tech companies including Intuit, Microsoft, and Hewlett Packard.Paul was the Executive Board President of the Revenue Enablement Society from 2022-2024. He produces and hosts the podcast “Stories From The Trenches” and is a regular keynote speaker on revenue enablement strategies and sales methodologies.


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