An Inside Look at the Sales 2.0 Conference

We saw a lot of familiar faces in this video from Gerhard Gschwandtner of Selling Power, who spoke with many attendees at our May event in San Francisco about what they value most about the Sales 2.0 Conference. If you have ever wondered what B2B sales leaders learn at our events, check it out!

(Bonus: if you watch the video, you’ll see a discount code for registration at the very end for $300 off the price of admission to our Boston event on July 14.)

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Four Trends that are Shaping B2B Customer Expectations

How many sales and marketing teams spend their days trying to capture customers?

LaVon Koerner Sales 2.0 Conference

LaVon Koerner addresses the audience at the Sales 2.0 Conference in San Francisco, May 2014

At the recent Sales 2.0 Conference in San Francisco, speaker LaVon Koerner asserted that demand capture is no longer a relevant approach. Instead, B2B sales and marketing organizations need to focus on demand creation.

Koerner, who is president and chief revenue officer of Revenue Storm, said this shift is due to four major disruptions in sales today.

1) Alternative sources of information. Koerner asked audience members if they remember the days of putting account plans together in huge binders. “Those huge binders are gone. Now there are so many ways for customers to get that information,” he said. “Sales teams must accept that there are simply better ways of getting information than talking with salespeople.”

2) Increased commoditization. “The time it takes to bring a new product to market is collapsing,” Koerner said. “The amount of time it takes to lifecycle a product is collapsing. Meanwhile the number of competitors who can emulate you is increasing. That giant sucking sound you hear is lost profitability.”

3) Economic conditions. Koerner pointed out that the American economy grew by just 2.6 percent in the final quarter of 2013. “That’s not enough growth to keep your sales organization healthy and for all your hungry competitors to hit their numbers,” said Koerner.

4) The next generation of tech users. It’s not just new technology that poses a challenge, it’s the way the new generation uses technology. As Koerner said, those currently coming up the career ladder communicate and make decisions by using technology in ways with which the older generations are unfamiliar. “This new generation of buyers will also buy differently,” said Koerner.

When trends are large enough, they cause disruption. Here’s a list of the old expectations customers demanded of sales teams:

“Fulfill my order or RFP.”
“Provide me with the best offering/price.”
“Don’t talk so much and just listen to me.”

Meanwhile, here are the new customer expectations:

“Challenge my thinking about my business challenges.”
“Proactively bring me innovative ideas.”
“Provide thought leadership that can guide my ability to make decisions.”

Koerner stressed that we have to move away from the world of demand capture into the world of demand creation. While sales teams in the past focused on beating the competition and devoted weekends to putting together a world-class proposal, those tactics will no longer give you an edge. “It’s not a product-centric world anymore,” he said. “It’s an opportunity-centric world. Your job is to alert, educate, and get ahead of the proposal.”

Ultimately, Koerner encouraged the hundreds of sales leaders in attendance to focus on doing something different, rather than doing something old in a better way. “The glory days of selling will not return. It’s over. It’s best to take a breath and accept that things will never be the same. It’s time to start working on something new. Don’t go out and find clients. Make clients.”

Join us at the Boston Sales 2.0 Conference on July 14. Register before June 18 and save $130

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What’s the Value of Getting a Second Chance at Life?

by Parker Trewin 

AIDS/LifeCycleIn sales, and sometimes in life, it comes down to the ask.

The casino event that raised $1,600 at the Sales 2.0 Conference a few weeks ago was a direct result of such an ask. [Update: The current total raised is $2,303.50. To contribute in Parker's name, please visit http://tofighthiv.org/goto/parkertrewin. -- Ed.]

Seven years ago I made the simple request of Gerhard and Larissa Gschwandtner. It was to join me for dinner. I wanted to Gerhard to speak at our first Sales 2.0 Conference. After a bottle of wine, and talking about almost everything but business, he agreed. He also agreed to take over the helm of the conference when the company I was working for decided that it was not in the event business.

Last June, I asked a question of myself.

Being HIV positive for 10 years I knew that I wanted to give back to the organizations that have been helping me live a fuller life. The question I asked was this: What’s the value of getting a second chance at life?

That’s when I decided to do two things: ride 545 miles from SF to LA in the AIDS/LifeCycle and along the way raise $1K for every year of my life in support the SF AIDS Foundation.

To help me get to $54K I asked Gerhard and Larissa if they would support me and tonight’s event was the result. I closed today’s Sales 2.0 Conference by doing something I’d never done before — come out as positive to a mostly straight and completely unfamiliar room. I had pushed beyond my comfort zone. I felt exposed.

You could hear a pin drop. I could feel their empathy towards me. While nothing was uttered, a lot was said. It was quite a moving moment that I quickly passed through. I closed the session recounting to the audience much of what I have just retold you about how the conference got started and how that led me to being on stage before them. I asked attendees to help me close the final gap saying “every dollar that the house takes in goes directly towards my efforts. All I ask of you is that you have fun, network, have a drink or two on the house, and gamble relentlessly.”

Today, I ventured outside again.

Aria, the new company I work for, is launching a social good program; AIDS/LifeCycle is their first beneficiary. Together, with the help of the Aria team, we have decided to tell my story. In so doing this also makes me their first employee to be publicly out as either Gay or HIV positive. It’s a leap of faith for both parties. I am grateful for the support of my boss, Jon Gettinger, and Aria’s CEO, Tom Dibble who like my father, have backed me “100%”.

I am thankful to have people like Gerhard, Larissa and so many others in my corner. I literally could not do this without them.

Parker Trewin Parker Trewin is Senior Director of Content and Communications at Aria Systems. This post appeared originally on the AIDS/LifeCycle website and is used here with permission. From June 1-7, 2014, he will be bicycling in AIDS/LifeCycle, a 7-day, 545-mile bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles to make a world of difference in the fight to end HIV and AIDS. To learn more and/or to make a charitable contribution in Parker’s name, please visit his donation page http://tofighthiv.org/goto/parkertrewin

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Selfies and Networking Tips from Sales 2.0

Alice Heiman has been called the ultimate extrovert and a networking queen, and this week at the Sales 2.0 Conference in San Francisco we were happy to welcome her as our Chief Networking Officer.

Alice (and yes, you can see from her LinkedIn profile that she is indeed related to that Heiman, of Miller Heiman fame) was everywhere at Sales 2.0 this week. If she wasn’t onstage making seamless introductions from one speaker to the next, she was mingling with our hundreds of attendees, and snapping selfies on the hashtag #blend and #s20c.

Because one of our big initiatives at Sales 2.0 Events is to encourage networking, we found Alice’s focus on “blending” a great fit. Here are some of the things she asked the audience to do.

Sit with people you don’t know. For some reason, colleagues often come to a conference and then stick to each other like glue. That includes sitting together for all presentations and lunches. Next time, try pulling up a chair next to someone you don’t know. You can always connect with colleagues later in the day (and maybe you’ll have found someone interesting to introduce them to).

Talk to new people. The fear here is that you’re at a sales event — so everyone will want to pitch to you, right? Not necessarily so. Try leading the conversation using simple questions like these:

  • What did you think of the last presenter?
  • What’s been your favorite presentation so far and why?
  • What did you come here to learn?

Part of the value of the event is meeting other sales leaders. Many people at our events end up running into folks they already know who they rarely see. It’s natural to hang out with people you know and like, but remember to go out of your way to make new connections. You can also always feel free to talk with speakers, many of whom stick around just for the purpose of talking with our attendees.

Spread the word with pictures and video. We loved Alice’s request for the audience to snap and tweet selfies throughout the day on Monday and Tuesday whenever they met someone new. (Like any good sales guru, she actually gave everyone an individual quota.) Not only was it fun to see so many photos pop up on the hashtags #s20c and #blend, it gave everyone a sense of connection. Our speakers even got in on the act — during his fantastic presentation, David Meerman Scott took a moment to take a selfie of himself with the audience in the background. (We must also give him props for taking the first selfie Vine video during one of the breaks.)

Thanks to everyone who came out this week and stayed engaged and curious. A very special thank you as well to our hotel hosts, the Four Seasons. We got a lot of compliments on the service, food, and overall hospitality of the staff.

Our next two events will be in Boston (in July) and Las Vegas (in September). Come join us!

Do you often attend business conferences? What are some of your best networking tips? Share your thoughts in the comments section or tweet on the hashtag #s20c. 

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Tomorrow at Sales 2.0: The Greatest Threat to Profitable Sales Results

value propositionThanks to all the great speakers who shared their insights yesterday at the first day of the Sales 2.0 Conference! Let’s keep the momentum going. Tomorrow morning here’s one presentation you don’t want to miss if any of the following describe you:

  • You are investing heavily in creating and selling high-value solutions.
  • Your organization is finding it increasingly difficult to defend your solution’s value to customers,
  • The lack of value clarity is preventing profitable sales results.

If these are issues for you, you need to hear Jeff Thull, President and CEO of Prime Resource Group Inc. during his presentation, “Unquantified Value: The Greatest Threat to Profitable Sales Results.” According to Thull, your solution has no value until your customers understand its financial impact on their business, invest in it, and can measure the results – their net profit. Absence of value clarity leads to more proposals ending in no decision, losses to competitors with less value, or sales with painful discounts.

Today’s buyers require professional guidance in order to make quality, business-level decisions. Sellers require the next level of comprehensive tools and diagnostic skills to carry them out. Can you meet the challenges of today’s turbulent business world with leadership strategies that will take you and your organization beyond sales process hype and into the reality of your customer’s business?

From strategy to process to execution of complex sales, Jeff will show leaders how to turn this difficult situation into a powerful competitive advantage. Be in the Veranda Ballroom at 9:55 a.m. to hear Jeff’s insights.

[Image: Flickr

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Sell Smarter: The Future of Sales

leadership
What do you think the future holds for the sales profession?

That’s the question we’ll be addressing on Monday and Tuesday at the Sales 2.0 Conference at The Four Seasons Hotel in San Francisco. Expect to hear predictions and trends about how sales organizations are leveraging real-time insights to produce faster, leaner, and more successful sales teams.

One presentation we’re looking forward to on Monday is from Oracle’s Chuck Penfield, Regional Vice President of Sales, Cloud CRM Applications. He’ll share proven strategies that Oracle’s top sales executives are using to increase performance and effectiveness. Attendees will learn

  • how to build a modern sales organization that leverages the power of analytics and forecasting to help win more deals,
  • ways to maximize revenue potential and improve cross-sell and up-sell opportunities,
  • strategies to optimize sales performance and productivity by adopting an effective mobile deal-management approach,
  • how to improve sales alignment and effectively manage incentive-compensation plans.

Join us in the Veranda Ballroom at 10:25 a.m. on Monday, May 5 to hear Chuck’s presentation. You can also follow @Sales20Conf and track #s20c on Twitter for more reports and real-time updates from the event.

[Photo: Flickr

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What Can Sales Leaders Learn from Fitbit?

fitbit for salesHere’s one presentation we’re looking forward to hearing next week in San Francisco: “Three Things Fitbit Taught Me About Sales,” by Justin Shriber.

Shriber, who is the Vice President of Products at revenue-performance company C9, will look at the goal of revenue growth through the lens of the strategies Fitbit has used to transform the personal fitness industry. The Fitbit philosophy can be summed up in three points:

  • Everyday steps add up to a big impact.
  • Stay connected, stay motivated.
  • Make health a habit one day at a time.

We’re intrigued to hear the connections Shriber will make between these points and what sales leaders can do to improve performance. (Hint: Attendees will learn how to harness the power of “real time” pipeline vitals to get reps focused on winning.)

For the past two decades, Justin has focused on helping companies accelerate growth and profitability by building and executing strategies that align marketing, sales and service with the needs of the customer. While at Oracle, he headed the company’s CRM OnDemand organization, and at Siebel, he was one of the early pioneers of the cloud — leading product teams responsible for delivering the first generation of SaaS applications.

The presentation is scheduled for Monday, May 5 from 3:35 pm – 4:05 pm in the Veranda Ball room at the Four Seasons Hotel in San Francisco. Join us there!

Are you a Fitbit user? What metrics do you use to track your sales or personal performance goals? Share your thoughts in the comments section. 

[Image: Flickr

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Five Basic Social Selling Tips

by Gini Arnold

social selling Social selling has definitely taken off in the last year, and many sales reps are beginning to find tangible success directly related to their social sales activities. These success stories are leading companies to mandate social selling as part of their sales force’s daily activities, but oftentimes this mandate comes without much guidance.

rFactr is dedicated to arming sales reps with the basic tactics they need to find success. The tips below are designed to help both the sales rep that is just getting started with social sales and the more seasoned social seller who wants to refresh their strategy.

1. Fish Where The Fish Are

Before jumping into social sales, research which networks your prospects and clients are on. You may have a great Twitter presence, but if all of your prospects are on Xing, then that’s where you want to be.

You should also know which networks are driving the highest participation from your prospects. Check out everything from LinkedIn Groups to industry-relevant hashtags on Twitter to find out where conversations of importance are occurring.

2. Know The Network

Each social network has its own “code of conduct” which dictates everything from how users interact to the language they use to the overall tone of the site. For example, acronyms and shorthand phrases are perfect on Twitter, which only allows users 140 characters per tweet.

There are also a number of network-specific actions and language markers that you’ll want to understand, such as mentions, hashtags, likes, and favorites, before you dive into engaging with prospects.

3. Focus On Making Quality Connections

While a large network is something to strive for, social sellers should focus on growing a valuable network filled with prospects, clients, and industry thought leaders. These types of connections are better suited for helping sellers reach their goals.

4. Value Participation Over Promotion

Instead of flooding their social networks with shameless promotions, social sellers should instead be focused on sharing content of value to their prospects. This is not to say that there isn’t a place for promotion, but it should be done subtly and at a lower frequency.

5. Leverage Engagement Opportunities

One of the greatest things about social media is that it offers sellers a way of communicating and interacting with their prospects in real time. Social sellers can take advantage of this opportunity by engaging with users that comment on or interact with their content and by forming and sharing an opinion with content shared by others. This type of one-on-one engagement offers the sales rep a perfect forum for starting a conversation with an engaged prospect and increases the chances of setting an appointment.

GiniGini Arnold is a digital and social strategist in Charlotte, NC. She has a strong background in developing and implementing social media strategies for companies in a variety of industries. Her true passion is providing companies with successful social media strategies and campaigns based on data analysis and a mutual understanding of their goals.

This post appeared originally on the rFactr blog; this slightly modified version is used here with permission. Join rFactr at the Sales 2.0 Conference in San Francisco on May 5-6

[Image: Flickr / mkhmarketing / CC by]

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What B2B Customers Expect in a Mobile World

By Loren Alhadeff

mobile deviceRemember when a sale was entirely manual and paper based? When you had to print documents and fax contracts, and weeks separated stages of the deal?

Today, businesses operate in a cloud-based world, and digital transaction management (xDTM) is synonymous with efficiency. This is especially fortunate for sales teams, whose quick response times can mean the difference between making or missing quota.

In fact, the marriage of xDTM and mobile solutions has set off a domino effect of efficiency. The major benefit: time and resources saved. For example, with DocuSign’s sales use case deployments, customers see, on average, an eight-day reduction in document turnaround time and a $15.68 savings per document. Eighty-six percent of documents are completed within one day, many within an hour.

With xDTM and mobile solutions, sales professionals are able to cater to customer needs better than ever, as well as have more time to focus on securing successful deals. Customers crave the added ease of mobile integrations, and they increasingly expect easy mobile transactions as table stakes when doing business. In particular, here are two things customers want from you in a mobile interaction:

Shorter and more efficient communication. Most email (approximately 70 percent) is read on mobile devices. Moreover, email communication must hit key points and include hyperlinks to cloud storage or external sites.

Secure communication. Customers want to complete business workflows from their mobile devices in a safe, secure, and legal manner. They’ll be looking for xDTM functionalities, such as those found in DocuSign, built with iron-clad and bank-class security. They also demand legally compliant templates and processes.

For sales professionals, xDTM and digital business offer the key tools to ensure a seamless sale while reducing paper clutter, wasted time, and wasted money. Furthermore, mobile integrations can vastly improve both the customer and selling experience. After all, if customers are free of the hassles of analogue processes, so are sales professionals.

Sales professionals and customers alike hope for a win-win situation, and that is what xDTM offers business today and moving forward.

Hear DocuSign’s CEO and chairman Keith Krach present “How Going 100% Digital Delivers Competitive Advantage” at the Sales 2.0 Conference in San Francisco on May 5–6, 2014. To attend, register here.

Loren Alhadeff DocuSign  Loren Alhadeff is vice president of corporate sales at DocuSign.

[Photo: Flickr]

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Two Things You Should Know about Today’s Buyer

When Dave DiStefano, CEO of Richardson, took the stage in Philadelphia at the Sales 2.0 Conference in March, he pointed out that many companies get off on the wrong foot with customers because they make the sales process all about themselves and not the customer.

One of DiStefano’s biggest points was that sales leaders need to figure out how to create a dynamic sales process. He quoted research from the CSO Insights 2014 Sales Performance Optimization survey showing that salespeople who rely on a dynamic sales process achieve quota 64 percent of the time compared to reps who rely on a “random” process (and  achieve quota only 52 percent of the time). According to DiStefano, a dynamic process allows salespeople the flexibility to meet customers on their terms and adapt to their needs and expectations.

To create a dynamic sales process, understand that buyers expect salespeople to bring value right out of the gate. That means sellers must understand their customers’ business challenges before they embark on a conversation. According to IDC’s 2013 IT Buyer Experience Survey, customers face a number of unique needs and pressures:

* Thirty percent report longer decision cycles.

* Ninety-five percent require financial justification before buying.

* Twenty percent report a decline in deal size.

Also, a high percentage of survey participants reported that sellers were unable to successfully articulate their value. As DiStefano said, this is a problem for sellers, but it shouldn’t be. He told the audience, “We all have passion for what we do and what we sell. It’s important to keep in mind that people buy from you when they trust you enough to help them solve their problems, when they know that you understand their business, and when they know that you understand them.”

With this in mind, DiStefano offered two takeaways for sales leaders to consider:

1. Know where the buyer is, and begin the sales process there. Focus on moving the buyer through his or her company’s process, not yours.

2. Avoid asking the buyer to take too big of a leap. Don’t close in your time frame. Take into account the risk the buyer is taking. For example, don’t ask buyers to take a leap of faith on price without ensuring that they understand the value you bring.

Join Richardson at their next post-conference workshop on May 7 in San Francisco at The Four Seasons Hotel. 

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