Sales 2.0 Conf: Benchmarks of True Sales Effectiveness

The Benchmarks of True Sales Effectiveness
Paul Melchiorre – Global Vice President, Ariba

Ariba was an early leader in the e-business revolution.  With great working products, it survived the tech crash a decade ago, and since thrived.  It is no surprise that today Ariba is a thought leader in Sales 2.0 best practices.

Paul launched his presentation with a Buyer 2.0 profile.  The “new” customer is informed by multiple sources, is empowered through knowledge, has higher demands, and is tech savvy.  It was a subtle reminder from an earlier session the Buyer 2.0 exerts far greater product discrimination and control over the purchase process than 5-7 years ago.

Post-recession, the nature of selling has changed.  Customers now value the sales experience itself over the Company, Product, and ROI.

What Drives Effectiveness in a Sales 2.0 World?

People.  Process.  Technology.   No mystery, that’s been a winning tripod for years.

How sales reps work with the customer has changed.  To me, Paul builds on Solution Selling concepts of exploring pain impacts to the organization.  But it is more.  The Sales 2.0 rep understands the impacts to all stakeholders.  They become the Trusted Advisor, perceived as the Thought Leader.  Sales 2.0 leaders can “visualize the Finished Basement”.

Think about the buyers in the sales process.  The CMO, CIO and CFO have different interests.  Sales 2.0 leaders understands all the stakeholders – their issues, pains, requirements, etc. They engage their customers how they wish to interact, using multiple communications channels.

A well-defined sales process ensures sales effectiveness that is repeatable and extendable to new hires.  Uses common standards to qualify leads and opportunities.  It mitigates risk in the sales cycle.

Help your customers see the “Finished Basement”.  This especially important if you’re selling transformational technology.  Help them see the end result.  Lock in the vision.

Paul underscored the need to have clear visibility across your sales organization.  Starts with training and education.  Every sales operation needs good repeatable process and accurate measurements.  Process, in my experience, is often weakly defined and poorly enforced in most sales environments.  I worked for 2 companies that used well-defined practices and accurate measurements via reporting to evaluate progress towards goals.  One of those companies started with the training foundation, and certified every new sales hire prior to assigning a territory. Ariba does this, too.

Paul listed 4 Principles of Success in training employees:

  1. Have clear objectives
  2. Be concise
  3. Understand your buyers/audience
  4. Speak to that audience

Paul advocated using top sales performers to deliver training. They make the best trainers. Their success and vision may not be passed along through osmosis.  They need to lead and be involved in training and new hire on-boarding initiatives.  Does your company today leverage the top performing sales reps to pass along insight and best practices?

Harness New Tools and Techniques

Best in class companies have changed their selling model to sell to the 2.0 Buyer.  Sales professionals who don’t understand 2.0 are set up for failure.  Even if they hire and employ the very best sales reps in their industry, companies that do not embrace 2.0 Sales will be left behind.  New tools and techniques are required.  If you still follow the same practices today you used 5-7 years ago, it’s time to change.

Knowledge sharing is the cornerstone.  Collaboration and Social Conversations on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, video message delivery via YouTube. Sales 1.0 tools like Salesforce remain in use to automate the sales process and provide reporting.  Paul recommended adding social media to your practices, and showed this compelling graphic indicating Sales 2.0 companies increased revenues by 37%:

Ariba’s Social Vision: We will leverage the collective IQ of our 4,500,000 customers. Our solutions are smart. But our customers are even smarter.

Sales 2.0 Conf: 5 Meaningless Sales Metrics

5 Meaningless Sales Metrics
Matt Heinz, Heinz Marketing Inc

5 Meaningless Sales Metrics was a single slide in Matt’s session on Sales & Marketing Metrics Worth Tracking.  If only I had known years ago, what I now know.

Over my sales career, I have been tracked on 4 of 5 Meaningless Metrics in every company I worked.  As a manager, I have held my team accountable for those same metrics.

  1. Dials per day/week/month.  We sell in a Sales 2.0/Buyer 2.0 world now.  “I will dial dial dial until my fingers bleed” is not a good strategy today.  Earlier, IBM’s Judy Buchholz talked about engaging in cloud-based customer discussions, opening conversations around relevant topics, and sending/leaving situational specific messages for prospects and clients.   Email generates < 0.5% return, voice mail is often ignored, so it is imperative to be relevant, and engage Buyers where they congregate.
  2. Demos & Appointments Scheduled.  Who doesn’t track this?  Yet, it’s a complete waste of time & analysis.  For years, I watched coworkers work the system setting demos for companies that will never buy so they can claim a high level of activity.  THAT TIME IS LOST, and could have been spent pursuing addressable market.
  3. Talk time.  Should be self explanatory why this is a bad metric to track.  Sales reps will call contacts with whom they have good rapport and shoot the breeze in order to increase their minutes if they don’t have meetings.  In the Sales 2.0 world, buyers seek information from multiple sources. By the time a voice conversation takes place, buyers are generally well informed reducing time spent in voice conversation.
  4. Salesforce/CRM logins.  What?  Never have been tracked on this metric.  Doesn’t everyone login first thing, and stay logged in all day?
  5. Logged Activities.  Like talk time, this metric is rife for abuse.  Sales reps will add a bcc address to copy correspondence into the CRM.  They will document no answer call attempts which pollutes the contact activity list.  And so forth, yet these same people often won’t document actual meaningful discussions, next steps, scope of opportunity, project requirements, etc.

All I can say is THUMBS UP for a great presentation!  It was outstanding hearing confirmation of what I have suspected for years.

Sales 2.0 Conf: B2B Sales Metrics Worth Tracking

B2B Sales Metrics Worth Tracking
Matt Heinz – President, Heinz Marketing Inc

Matt opened up showing a dashboard mock-up showing various charts and stats.  The slide was titled, “Lies, damn lies, and…“.  He emphasized be careful tracking metrics.  Just because it’s something you can track, doesn’t mean it’s important or relevant.  If it isn’t relevant, it shouldn’t be displayed on your dashboard.  Considering the array of available analytics, choose carefully which metrics are right for your business that will drive higher sales and profits.

He recommended starting by looking at your Marketing Cost Per Sale.  Do you track your leads from close and beyond?  Have you identified your most efficient lead channels?  Do you know your cost per lead source?  Apply those efficiencies across other channels as best practices.  Track those costs to referrals and post-sale to renewals.

Next, examine your company’s Customer Lifetime Value.  How much are you willing to spend to acquire a new client?  Do you know which clients generate the greatest profit?  Then ask how will that drive sales incentives and behavior?  Matt recommended involving your customer experience team in the sales process to define target customers and set expectations.

Address Nurture DatabasePerformance.  Start by defining a “Nurture Lead” as it applies to your organization.  What percentage of deals emerge from the nurture database?  How are you managing this segment of your lead program?  What tools are you using to track?  If you have a nurture lead program, are you able to predict future revenue generated from database over time?

Sales Cycle Length varies in every company.  Considering 70-80% of leads are not acted upon by sales in a timely manner, there is a lot of room for improvement in most organizations.  Within an active sales cycle, do you know how long each stage takes once the lead is qualified and in market to buy?  What internal or external catalyzing events exist that accelerate the deal velocity?  Do you track length and duration in your lead-opportunity-sales model?

Is yourAddressable Market Size small enough?  Great question.  In this segment, Matt talked about narrowing your market to likely buyers, and underscored why the whole organization should define the market similarly.  Do you have an accurate understanding of your place in the market?  Does your sales goal align with market penetration expectations?  Using your sales funnel, what is the realistic # you should use?

Adjust your strategy to yield larger deals.  To increase the Deal Size, adjust your sales and marketing strategies based on revenue, margin, and lifetime value add potential.  Sales pipelines are often padded with flotsam not worth pursuing.  Sales reps call that job security, but management needs accurate forecasts.  Which deals in your pipeline aren’t worth pursuing?  What are your organization’s “sweet spots”?  What are you doing to target and leverage those sweet spots into higher sales?

What is aQualified Lead?  Do your sales and marketing teams agree on the definition?  Have you implemented explicit next steps to manage and advance qualified leads?  How do you manage and optimize qualified lead output from your marketing channels?  Do you track #, %, and $?

How do you manage Referrals?  Leads come from many sources, and referrals are often the highest quality if they come from a client or active prospect.  Even so, Matt recommended segmenting referral sources to track if from prospect, client or influencer.  What are you doing to drive the right referrals?  Do you have a program or incentives in place today to drive this high value lead source?

Quantify yourBest Customers.  Sales and marketing need to focus on finding more similar organizations to close.  Determine if your most valuable customer segment is growing or shrinking.  This is also related to Addressable Market Size.  If sales and marketing attention is focused elsewhere, the organization is losing potential deals to competitors.  Can you quantify your share of wallet?  Do you know how much business you get from your most valuable clients?

Follow these 4 General Best Practices:

  1. Prepare an objective and action for each metric.  If you can’t, get rid of that metric.
  2. Manage review sessions to next steps.  Move the opportunities forward.
  3. Resist the urge to have the visibility this minute, publish a better dashboard tomorrow afternoon.
  4. Keep an eye and manage number creep.

Sales 2.0 Conf: The Modern Sales Organization. What Works and What Doesn’t

The Modern Sales Organization.  What Works and What Doesn’t Work in Today’s Selling Environment

Moderator:  Craig Rosenberg – VP S&M at Focus
Panelist:  Judy Buchholz – VP Inside Sales at IBM
Panelist:  Jim Cyb – VP Sales Americas at Zendesk
Panelist:  Abe Smith – VP & GM, Americas and APAC at Mindjet


This panel session opened with a simple question.  What is new that wasn’t 5-7 years ago?  Each panelist had similar experiences, with a few differences.

Judy Buchholz from IBM shared Digital and Social Selling.  She underscored how important it is to establish a Thought Leader presence.  What has really changed is who they hire, and how they hire.  New hires come from different sources including competitors and partners, and are social technology literate.

Customers want to buy differently using new channels that weren’t available just 5 years ago.  They actively use a variety of social channels and join customer discussions outside traditional phone and email.  It’s in those channels customers research and form opinions about a product or service they need.   Missing those opportunities to connect with and influence a buyer is potentially lost revenue.

Jim Cyb from Zendesk cited their social focus as a company bringing together Support and Sales to close more deals.  Support is pulled into the sales process instead of introduced post sale.  Support works with customers during trials to ensure a positive user experience.  Their mantra is to sell the way customers want to buy.  Anyone in Zendesk could sell a deal because customers buy online, through sales, sometimes support or others.

Compelling extra take aways from Zendesk – They live a collaborative culture while most companies just talk about it.  They have “no bad territories” because they have no territories, and experience no grumbling over account and opportunity ownership.  HOW ZEN!  That is a beautiful concept.  And, it’s working at Zendesk.  Accounts are assigned round robin instead of by geography or vertical.  Reps have incentive to respond to inbound leads as fast as possible.  Most companies waste 70-80% of their leads.  That probably doesn’t happen in Jim’s operation.

Abe Smith from MindJet said they have heavily embraced social selling.  His reps are required to perform LinkedIn research, and to connect with their clients to monitor and join social discussion.   The LinkedIn connection enables message push into the network.  Customers see the updates, group messages, replies to conversations of interest and get involved.  He asked the audience how many always link to their clients as a best practice?  Less than half the room raised their hands.

Abe also asked how many instruct their reps to send a SMS message to unresponsive clients.  Far fewer raised their hands than to the prior question about linking with customers.  His team is instructed to get mobile #’s from their contacts, record it on the contact record in Salesforce.  SMS has a much higher reply rate than email and voicemail.  People will reply to a SMS when they won’t respond to an email or a voicemail, even if the SMS is delivered to the same device as their EM and VM.


This session unfolded to focus on what is new that wasn’t 5-7 years ago.  There was little mention of what isn’t working, but that was fine.  We got much better insights from one giant corporation, one scappy 2.0 centric rules challenger, and a tradional ISV that made the conversion from traditional to modern selling.

Companies relying on traditional engagement practices need to retool to incorporate social selling into their sales process.  That will involve Sales and Marketing working together to establish common goals and plans to get there.  Every member of each team also needs to build their social communication channels, and become recognized as Thought Leaders instead of as a sales rep or marketing rep.  Engaging with customers along multiple channels is essential if the company wants to influence the Buyer 2.0 decision process.

Sales 2.0 Conf: How to Benefit from the Social Selling Revolution

How to Benefit from the Social Selling Revolution
Mike Derezin, Global head of Sales, Sales Solutions, LinkedIn

This was a panel session that kicked off with a LinkedIn announcement related to their new Sales Navigator tool.  This link is not the presentation provided by Mike, but has some similar content –

What is your company doing to find and engage with customer contacts?  210M people are listed on the Do Not Call list.  Only 4.5% of calls are answered by the target contact.

The social selling evolution involves engaging in conversation and leveraging your 2nd degree LinkedIn connections, and  80% of users keep their social and professional networks separate.  LinkedIn has evolved as a important collaboration hub for business users.

Status updates provide insights to what people are doing and into their professional interests.  LinkedIn Today was designed to surface relevant news to your profession that you might not see on other sources.

There are more than 1 million groups on LinkedIn today.  This is where 57% of the social selling takes place.  BUT, relatively few sales reps leverage status updates and conversations in groups.

Sales Navigator is built around 3 components, Lead Builder, InMails, and Team Link.  Lead Builder helps users identify leads based on screening criteria, and when leads of interest change jobs.  InMails have been around for awhile.  In an earlier sessions we learned email gets a 0.5% response rate, but InMail gets a greater than 30% response rate.  [Every company should allow sales reps to expense professional subscriptions.]  Team Link exposes when other team members have connections that can impact a deal close.

WOW!  Team Link should be highly valuable.  Companies have tried to track and cross reference employee skills, past employment links, association memberships, etc, but it has been a manual task, often managed by a spreadsheet.  Most rely on tribal knowledge, and that practice is worth the paper on which it’s recorded.

New is the Social Selling Index.  It’s a set of measures to identify your sales team’s leaders, and who are the laggards.  Easy to understand.  Social Selling Leaders have complete profiles, contribute insights in groups, respond to customer status updates, but most important, they connect to their clients.  Survey your team, and ask who regularly sends LinkedIn invitations to their customers.  Make it a job requirement.

Social Laggards          TipToers               Social Leaders
0                                      50                                       100 Social Selling Index

Teams that leverage social selling have greater sales volumes.  HP’s ArcSight, IBM, Oracle, McKinsey are all icons in their markets.  Remarkable to me, because some represent companies perceived as slow to change, resistant to change, yet here they are, Thought Leaders in a Sales 2.0 world.

Sales 2.0 Conf: 6 Factors Transforming B2B Sales in 2012

6 Factors Transforming B2B Sales in 2012
Donal Daly, CEO TAS Group

Big topic.  Both B2C and B2B consumers have changed how they engage with vendors and buy products.  “B2C behavior is a predictor of B2B behavior.”

Mobile has had a huge impact.  There are only 315.5m people in the US, but there are 327.6m mobile devices.  Between Dec 31st 2011 and Jan 31st 2012, the number of tablets doubled in the world, growth driven by the Apple iPad.

Flash is dead.  Mobile (infrastructure) is the needle, and Social is the thread weaving the tapestry.  Collaboration is key.

Customer Lifetime Value is superseded by Customer Network Value.  In the social network, people give first and obtain what they need later.  People get info in their own time in their own space.  Companies must adapt to how clients want to buy.

TAS Group has a tool providing a sales effectiveness health check, Dealmaker Index.  It ranks opportunities and provides advice to move the deal forward.  One of the main ideas is to ask “If you’re going to lose the deal, what is the #1 reason?”  Donal’s advice is be proactive and address the risk before it happens.

Intelligence only has value with Knowledge, Data, Context, and Reasoning.

Predictive Sales Analytics levers to pull:  # Deals X Value X Win Rate = SALES VELOCITY

|                Prescriptive Analytics
|           Predictive Analytics
|      Situational Analytics
| Data

Sales reps spend 2.5 hours EVERY week working on inaccurate sales forecasts.  Pipelines are padded with false opportunities.  Using principles of Sales Velocity, expose the false opportunities in order to develop accurate forecasts.

The impact on a customer of a bad buying decision is greater than the impact on a sales person of a lost sale.  Create an org chart around the business problem broken into modules.  Your solution will be attached to the affected component(s).  Your interactions become more relevant to the customer.  They make better decisions since problems are often complex and no single solution may meet the entire set of requirements.  The entire solution needs to be modular and integrated to maximize effectiveness.

Donal closed talking about Gamification.  It builds competent, motivated and confident sales teams.  TAS Group suggested building a game around moving sales opportunities forward.  Within the sales funnel, segment by sales stage, and assign red and green color coding to the stages.  In greater context, spiffs, sales contests, etc have limited value.  Gamification of the sales process allows development of Sales Thought Leaders and achievement recognition among peers.  Sales teams gain confidence as skill mastery is attained, and that self assured presence is reflected in all customer facing interactions.

Sales 2.0 Conf: In Search of Sales Excellence

In Search of Sales Excellence
Jon Vander Ark – Principal, McKinsey & Company

Great session on building a modern 2.0 Sales Organization.  4 things to remember:

  1. FIND GROWTH before your competitors
  2. SELL TO YOUR CUSTOMERS how they want to be engaged.  Don’t force the sales process on the buyer.
  3. Soup up your Sales Engine
  4. It’s all about you and your sales people

Jon’s advice included looking 10 quarters ahead – that’s 2.5 years – requires goal and execution planning.  Mine growth beneath the surface.  Get to know your customer, don’t just collect the easy sales.  Master multi-channel direct sales.  Engage your customers through email, phone, social media, direct mail, indirect marketing.  Innovate direct sales.  Invest in partners for mutual benefit.  Manage performance for growth.  Coaching is more effective to increase productivity and revenue.  Build the company sales DNA.  Hire the right talent.  [DWS personal observation:  hire talent to achieve greater success.  Often sales managers hire people they know with similar views, and those hires are less likely to bring innovative thought leadership to the organization.]  Growth starts at the top.

Additional information available at http://

10 Take Aways from Sales 2.0 Opening Keynote Address

The New Standards of Sales Success – 10 Take Aways from Sales 2.0 Opening Keynote Address
Gerhard Gschwandtner, CEO and Founder Selling Power

The Sales 2.0 Conference in San Francisco kicked off in an informative way.  Gschwandtner  engaged with the audience, creating a participatory session.

  1. Document the sales process, everyone follows the same process
  2. Analyze your progress – many companies fail to accurately analyze progress toward goals
  3. Face Reality As It Is, not as you wish it was – Look at Kodak.
  4. Create a customer centric sales organization.  Become customer centric.  What do they want?
  5. Change before you have to.  Be proactive instead of reactionary.
  6. Shrink the “Don’t know what we don’t know” cycle
  7. Aim beyond profits.  What are the organization’s social contributions?
  8. Play creates ideas that pay
  9. Be an integrative leader
  10. Follow your true north – “Too may die without playing their music”