A virtual sales summit was held on May 7, 2015, with over 80 presentations by thought leaders and professionals in the sales training, consulting, and coaching industries. The event was sponsored by InsideSales.com, Microsoft, and Salesforce.com (the last two are investors in InsideSales.com), and several other companies. I did not listen to every presentation, but tried to zero in on those that I felt had an affinity to my current focus, Lean Selling.
The following is the list of presentations I found most intriguing. I have provided my key takeaways from each presentation, followed by an explanation of how I think it aligns with Lean Selling, which is why I chose it.
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Presenter: Aaron Ross, Author, Predictable Revenue
Takeaways: With great leads (or a great way to generate them) you can do everything else wrong and still do well. The number #1 thing to make your salesforce more productive is to specialize the sales function. Make it easier to for prospects to say “No.”
What’s Lean About It: Most attempts to improve sales productivity focus on improving the skills of individual salespeople. We miss the opportunity for dramatic performance gains in sales organizations by not looking at how we can improve the sales process.
Presenter: Dominic Archibald, LinkedIn
Takeaways: When sending cold emails, connect with people’s emotional side first. Use things like their LinkedIn profile to learn more about them so you can personalize a first outreach. To bypass the traditional “referral” route, use “name dropping” of people you have in common as connections on LinkedIn.
What’s Lean About It: Putting the customer or buyer in the center of our sales thinking results in new and different approaches to selling. Buyers do indeed have emotional and rational requirements that have to be addressed before they can make decisions, such as whether to engage with a seller. Sellers often focus on the left-brain, rational aspects of the sale and address only a fraction of what the buyer really wants.
Presenter: Jon Miller, Engagio
Takeaways: The Law of Large Numbers doesn’t work for Account-Based Marketing (ABM). The measurements of success are not the same as broad-based marketing either; they are coverage, engagement, and productivity.
What’s Lean About It: A different customer acquisition strategy merits an evaluation of whether a new sales process is required. Broad-based (shotgun) marketing is not the same as target marketing (rifle shot). Often ignored is that a sales approach based on selling to a carefully selected set of accounts requires a sales process that is radically different from either of these. The metrics you use to measure progress along the way to a sale will be different too, as likely will the methodologies and tools you ultimately use to support the effort.
Presenter: Ken Krogue, InsideSales.com
Takeaways: Successful salespeople ask “Who?” before they talk about “Why?” (a take-off on Simon Sinek). They only move to Why when they know they are talking to the right person, the one with the authority to make a buying decision. Too many salespeople waste time with people who can’t make the decision.
What’s Lean About It: Some of the greatest waste in sales efforts comes from doing all the right things to the wrong people. You can do a mediocre selling job with the right person and still close a sale, but even if you do everything right with the wrong person (the one who can’t buy) you will see nothing but wasted time for your efforts.
Presenter: Jeff Molander, Jeff Molander & Associates
Takeaways: Make cold prospecting emails Brief, Blunt, and Basic to get them read and responded to. Don’t talk about yourself, but them (the prospect). Earn the right to have a discussion.
What’s Lean About It: Putting the client at the center of sales efforts starts with the initial contact as well. It’s really not about us or what we do, at least not initially. It’s all about the buyer.
Presenter: Kevin Thomas Tully, ScealCom
Takeaways: Sales is a Service. Service disrupts markets and drives revenues, not product development.
What’s Lean About It: Few organizations think about the opportunity for differentiation and adding value based simply on the way they sell. Focusing on the service of sales is an untapped area that has the potential to be truly disruptive for those companies that get on board and invest in making it happen.
Presenter: Matt Heinz, Heinz Marketing
Takeaways: Sales operations improvements can double sales productivity. Salespeople should spend as little time as possible on their CRM system.
What’s Lean About It: The way a company sells is more important than who sells. A CRM system is only a useful tool when it supports the right process and makes it more effective and efficient. First you have to have the right sales process. A CRM doesn’t magically create one for you.
Presenter: Mike Schultz, The Rain Group
Takeaways: 85-90% of sales training fails to help salespeople sell more. Effective sales training is never called sales “training,” but rather sales “education” or “academy.” This requires a long-term not a short-term view.
What’s Lean About It: Traditional sales training and methodologies have the reputation of being transient and faddish. At the root of this is a bias toward short-term thinking and results, which leads to long-term instability and unpredictability of revenue, and a sales process that is not continuously improving, but moving sideways, at best.
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Ed. Note – Following publication of this article, the main event sponsor let me know that the presentations highlighted here, and nearly 80 additional ones that were not, have been archived and are available for viewing here for a limited time . Enjoy!
About: Robert Pryor is a Lean Selling author and community builder as well as a CEO, speaker, and educator on cutting-edge sales processes. His new book isLean Selling: How to Slash Your Sales Cycle and Drive Profitable, Predictable Revenue Growth by Giving Buyers What They Really Want. Follow by joining the LinkedIn Group “Lean Selling” or on Twitter @LeanSelling.