A Millennial Goes to the Sales 2.0 Conference in Philadelphia

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By Chelsea Lovelace

How did I end up at my first-ever Sales 2.0 Conference this week in Philadelphia? Twitter.

I’m just starting my career in sales, and I use Twitter all the time to network with industry experts and learn as much as I can. One person whose writing and ideas I like and admire is Anthony Iannarino, who publishes fantastic content on The Sales Blog. We connected a few times online and discussed some of the insightful concepts from his book. About a month ago, he sent a tweet inviting people to hear him speak as part of a panel discussion at the Sales 2.0 Conference in Philadelphia on November 14. I reached out right away and said it would be an honor to join. Soon after, I was excited to see a reply from him saying, “You’re in!”  

I had never been to an event like the Sales 2.0 Conference before, and the agenda looked impressive. I was excited to be in the company of some amazing people, including Anthony. I was also looking forward to hearing and maybe meeting Alice Heiman (formerly of Miller Heiman and now a sales coach and author), Gerhard Gschwandtner (founder of Selling Power magazine), and Kevin Higgins (CEO of Fusion Learning, Inc.).

My goal in coming to the event was to develop myself personally and professionally. Right now I work as a corporate product educator for a merchant processing company (the largest independently-operated acquirer in North America). One day I want to be a sales leader and sales coach. In my current role, I’m responsible for educating our sales force on our product – what it does, how it can be a good fit with customers, and how they can best sell the product. I really want our salespeople to be successful and I develop material (video, podcast, live Webinars, individual training sessions, in-person training, etc.) to help them 1) learn and 2) present our products to customers effectively.

What did I learn on Monday in Philadelphia? Here are key quotes and insights from five presentations.

Insight #1: “Driving a sales organization by focusing on results is like driving a car by looking in the rearview mirror.” Kevin Higgins, Fusion Learning (“New and Advanced Approaches to Developing Sales Culture and Leadership”)

It’s clear that many sales leaders get so caught up in results that they forget to look at how they arrived at those results. If you focus only on the outcomes, you lack the information you need to guide a coherent strategy for long-term success.

So much of the time, we don’t really see our customer as the customer. It’s transactional. Don’t focus on what you can do for your deal count, your paycheck, your bottom line.

Insight #2: “Customer experience is the new battleground, and it’s personal.” Nicholas Kontopoulos, Global VP of Fast Growth Markets Marketing, SAP Hybris (“The Measure of Customer Experience”)  

Salespeople need to show prospects that they care about their success. That is part of the customer’s buying experience. To be truly effective, salespeople need to think about what the customer’s customer needs. That is a great way to differentiate yourself and add value as a salesperson.

Insight #3: “In buyer relationships, the salesperson does not convert the buyer; the buyer converts the salesperson.” Adrian Davis, President, Whetstone Inc. (“Outside In: Where Sales and Strategy Meet”)

In a relationship with a prospect, the salesperson starts off as a stranger. This is where the relationship between the salesperson and the buyer is transactional. Gradually (if you can), you move to build a foundation of trust so you can become a “desired supplier,” (where you create an emotional connection with the buyer). From there, you can move on to “trusted advisor,” and, eventually, “strategic ally.” This is the highest level, where you as a salesperson are actually helping shape the decisions of the customer’s company.

Insight #4: “Always be connecting.” Rob Jeppsen, CEO, Xvoyant (“Call Your Shot: Predicting Sales Performance through Coaching”)

It’s not always about asking for the close or delivering your product pitch. Success in sales is about who you can develop relationships with. Who can you connect with? Even if you might not be able to help someone today, you might be able to help him or her in the future. This principle holds true for sales managers as well. When it comes to motivating salespeople during coaching, managers need to uncover what drives the salesperson’s desire to change. It’s focusing on that intrinsic motivator.

Insight #5: “The key to sparking a new purchase is that person-to-person interaction.” Jennifer Stanley, Partner, McKinsey & Company (“B2B Digital Sales: Separating the Myths from Reality”)

It has been said that, by 2030, the salesperson in the field will become obsolete. It was reassuring to see Jennifer Stanley present stats showing that buyers prefer human interactions with sellers for many types of purchase decisions. (According to her presentation, based on McKinsey research, 76 percent of buyers said they want a human interaction when they’re initially making a purchase.) My takeaway was that the human element and digital element are equally important. Sales teams can’t rely too heavily on either one alone. In fact, they must be integrated to be effective.

Overall, the thing that was most wonderful about the event (and what made it worth the drive from Cleveland), was that everyone I met was so happy and positive and grateful. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I still thought of sales as a “Glengarry Glen Ross” environment, with an angry sales manager cracking the whip and negativity dominating the sales organization. After this week at the Sales 2.0 Conference, I see it really doesn’t have to be like that. Sales can be – and is – positive and uplifting for many, many people in the profession. I left feeling that I’m on the right career track, and I look forward to growing my career by helping others become successful.

aaeaaqaaaaaaaaugaaaajdiyndg1n2jiltrmmzmtngy0nc04nzkyltblmjlhotayy2i5oaChelsea Lovelace is Corporate Product Trainer at Electronic Merchant Systems (EMS). Find her on Twitter at @LovelaceladyCLE.

About Lisa

Editorial Director at SellingPower.com.
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