Lessons Learned: Becoming a Sales Leader

Contributed by Steven Hawes

B2B sales leaders often ask me what other sales leaders typically learn at our Sales 2.0 Conferences. I always find it somewhat ironic to find myself having conversations with sales leaders about learning. I’m just starting my career in sales, and just a few years ago I was sitting in classes thinking that I couldn’t wait to stop learning and start working.

In my role as Conference Success Manager, one thing I’ve realized about becoming a sales leader is that the learning never ends. Our attendees — who include VPs of Sales, Regional Directors, VPs of Marketing, C-level execs, and Sales Operations Managers — are busy professionals, but clearly they share a willingness to give up a day or two of work to learn. At our events, I watch some of the higher-ups of major companies interacting with their peers, sharing what works and does not work for them, and paying close attention to gather insight about what works at other companies. They’re constantly making valuable connections over lunch and breaks. They spend much of the conference taking notes on their iPads in our breakout sessions and during keynote presentations on the main stage.

One of the things sales leaders say they don’t have much time to focus on is major trends in selling. They want to know what kind of technology solutions and best practices they can explore in an effort to run better, faster, more productive sales teams. One of the areas where Sales 2.0 tools and practices are having a major impact is management. For example, here are three trends from the Sales Management 2.0 Conference in Philadelphia included in our post-event report (available for download here):

1. Incorporate social insight into the sales process.
Successful sales leaders are moving selling (or aspects of the sales process) online using virtual selling channels, video conferencing solutions, and marketing automation. They’re also creating socially proficient, competitive sales reps via coaching and training.

2. Create a seamless and positive customer experience.
The nature of competitive advantage has evolved over the years. For decades, companies that dominated in manufacturing won the most business, but in the 1960’s distribution became paramount to staying in the top tier or performance.  By the 90’s, businesses had to master information and data in order to succeed and grow. The power of competitive advantage now lies in the customer experience.

3. Eliminate silos and improve internal collaboration.
Sales leaders should have an understanding of customer buying behavior. Specifically, you should understand how the customer

* Learns about your company,
* Selects your product/solution,
* Buys your product/solution,
* Realizes value from investing in your product/solution.

Many companies lack a vision regarding the customer and experience and what it should look like, which makes this area an opportunity for competitive advantage for sales leaders.

The more you put into one of our conferences, the more you get out of it. If you come prepared to use the insight from experts, sponsors, and fellow sales leaders working in the field, you can easily maximize your investment in attending.

At the next Sales 2.0 Conference this April, we’ll reveal some intriguing statistics from the first ever Sales 2.0 Impact Survey, including the fact that 70% of sales organizations believe Sales 2.0 solutions will be “very important” or “critical” to achieving their 2013 objectives. Selling Power founder and CEO Gerhard Gschwandtner will discuss survey findings on the first day of the conference on April 8 during his opening keynote speech. I’ll be front and center at the registration desk starting at 7:30, so please say hello. And if you have any questions about or are interested in attending any of our events, feel free to e-mail me directly at Steven@salesdottwoinc.com.

Steven Hawes is Conference Success Manager at Selling Power. Selling Power is a media cosponsor of the Sales 2.0 Conference. Find him on Twitter at @SteveHawes13.

About Lisa

Editorial Director at SellingPower.com.
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