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.