Sometimes the first conversations you hear at an event stay with you the whole time. That happened for me on Monday at the Sales 2.0 Conference Boston - a gathering of sales experts, practitioners, sales leaders and sellers all coming together to talk about what is the latest in professional selling.
On the ride in to town I was reading notes about the pre-event speakers dinner where the discussion was on whether salespeople are lazy. Lots of sales leaders say this - and I have heard it for years. At least with the companies I choose to be around, the opposite is true. I don't typically have that issue to deal with.
Some of the hardest working folks in business are sales professionals. Top sellers are like elite athletes - they come in early, plan ahead, work a process, perform in clutch situations, do whatever it takes, and are well compensated for the art they bring as they apply the science of the system. For me, whether salespeople are lazy is not the question to be discussed - whether your company has great sales leadership IS. Other thoughts got me going as you can see below.
I love it when those who share my passion for helping companies grow sales revenues get together. Big ideas are created, and all sorts of side conversations erupt. Here were some of the highlights for me at Sales 2.0 Boston:
Event founder and host, Gerhard Gschwandtner, Founder & CEO, Selling Power kicked the day off with his aha realization that a logical next step in business is in developing “video sales enablement”. This is the idea that video is the next best thing to being in person, so should be incorporated more into interaction with prospects and clients. Video for sales training and coaching is a given. Nothing fully replaces in-person interaction with prospects, clients, or in-house training, yet video can work as a close second in augmenting in-person meetings.
Gerhard had been in the UK recently for a Sales 2.0 Session there, and he was most impressed by something Google is doing causing tremendous success.
“We are eliminating phone calls since we are much more focused and more productive using video calls” - David Keene, Head of Enterprise Marketing, Google, UK
Gerhard gave a number of video examples and set the tone for more discussion during the day. I support the idea of video making huge strides this year.
Jim Crisera of The TAS Group spoke next and really caught my attention because of the great statistics he shared based on their research:
Only half of sales reps can access key players at a prospect company – 54% to be exact
Only 61% of reps are good at uncovering customer problems
30% of reps don’t develop a competitive strategy
Only 59% are good at opportunity creation
Certainly that leaves a LOT of room for improvement in B2B sales teams everywhere.
A panel on The New Sales Reality included three of my favorite people:
Matt Bertuzzi – the brilliant marketing mind at The Bridge Group, Inc
Devon McDonald – Director of Sales & Marketing Support at OpenView Partners
Anthony Iannarino – B2B sales coach and consultant, The Sales Coach Blog.
“Every sales manager should periodically be on the phones – understand the pain of prospecting and building the pipeline”
“Sales managers should hire learners, not students. Learners will take your input and take initiative beyond that.”
“The most successful business professionals, including sellers, have grit – and scars.”
“You cannot teach attitude or enthusiasm”
Highlights for me in the afternoon sessions included:
The Five Faliure Points of Today’s Selling System presented by Diane Gillespie of SAVO. Among other important points, I took away:
Only 19% of companies are effective in following a consistent sales process.
Create an influence map of your prospects and populate with social intelligence
Only 8% of companies analyze their sales pipeline for root causes
78% of companies prepare their proposals manually (wow- I find that hard to believe - thought it was just us SMBs)
The last session of the day was on the main stage - it held the most takeaways and actionable examples. This presentation was with local Boston B2B inside sales expert Trish Bertuzzi, President of The Bridge Group, Inc and Ross Kramer, Co-founder and CEO of Listrak.
Trish discussed some trends in selling now, and Ross had some stories of how they have adapted to these things:
Role specialization – focusing on a core competency instead of lots of varied tasks = greater productivity and success
Data is the doctor – analyze your data for better sales results
Utilize technology but separate tools from toys
Be interesting in every human connection – email, voice mail, social media, and live.
People do not want canned conversation.
It was a very full day with lots of tips and ideas which I’ll be sharing in more detail soon.
My review of last year's event in Boston focused more about the Speed of Change in Selling
If you attended, please post your thoughts, take-aways, and favorite companies represented there.
Lori Richardson is recognized as one of the "Top 25 Sales Influencers for 2013" and one of "20 Women to Watch in Sales Lead Management for 2013". Lori speaks, writes, trains, and consults with inside and outbound sellers in technology and services companies. Subscribe to the award-winning blog and the “Sales Ideas In A Minute” newsletter for sales strategies, tactics, and tips in selling. Increase Opportunities. Expand Your Pipeline. Close More Deals.