Highlights & Insights from Selling Power's
Sales Leadership Conference, Las Vegas - April 19, 2010
After a day of listening to some of the most dynamic and authentic thought leaders in sales and marketing, the audience at Selling Power's Sales Leadership Conference in Las Vegas left charged with a new sense of direction and purpose and energized by the many opportunities that lie ahead for the sales profession.
We've compiled this review of key highlights and insights from a compelling agenda that covered issues related to strong sales leadership, social media, customer collaboration, sales and marketing alignment, high-performance sales teams, driving growth, and managing a culture of change.
To make sure you don't miss your opportunity to experience this next unique industry event for sales leaders, sign up for a reminder email for Selling Power's upcoming Sales Leadership Conference in Philadelphia, on September 21, 2010.
OPENING REMARKS: GERHARD GSCHWANDTNER
Conference host and Selling Power magazine publisher Gerhard Gschwandtner welcomed the audience of Sales VPs and CEOs to the 14th Sales Leadership Conference by asking them where true north lies. "People are looking up to every one of you as sales leaders and taking cues from you," Gschwandtner said. "You are the integrity leader, and your trust and vision is what good leadership is all about. You can't be afraid of having a conversation about the things that matter most - and that conversation should always be about value and results."
Sales teams need to stop defending the past and start preparing for the future, said Gschwandtner, adding that growth drives value, and sales leaders need to drive growth or suffer the consequences.
Key quotes from Gerhard Gschwandtner:
Sales leaders are value ambassadors for their companies and their brands.
The Internet is not the revolution. The Internet enables the revolution.
Value is not determined by what you think, but by what the customer thinks.
In the social media age, you can't get away with faking it. John Osborn said he believes that accountability is a good thing, and in a lively Q&A he answered tough questions about failure and how to improve an elevator pitch of your company's message. Osborn drew audience applause when he showed a few examples of the powerful and engaging messages his company has created, including the popular and funny Snickers commercial (starring Betty White and Abe Vigoda) that premiered at this year's Super Bowl, and a moving Public Service Announcement (video) that BBDO produced on behalf of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (which won both an Effie award and a David Ogilvy award).
(A transcript of Osborn's one-on-one interview with Gerhard Gschwandtner will appear in the September/October issue of Selling Power magazine.)
Key quotes from John Osborn:
Quality of engagement with customers has suffered. Messaging today has to have a sense of purpose, not just reach.
Look for "moments that matter" - everyone's trying to sell, but you should watch for times you can really help clients.
We work for years to build brands, but they can be torn down in a minute (on social media).
Elevator pitches need heart.
Adapting to new opportunities online continues to be a learning curve - even for those who work in technology. Jeff Cristee, who manages a team of 400 as Area VP of Cisco, encouraged sales leaders to embrace collaboration tools - from WebEx to Facebook - as a way grow relationships with customers and sales teams and stay relevant in the Internet age. While technology is driving the next wave of sales productivity, the tools don't have to be complicated: by attaching videos to emails, for example, Cristee has won a 20% open rate (compared to the normal 3% open rate). Cristee also uses virtual meetings for "prequel" calls to clients, and runs a virtual executive education series.
Key quotes from Jeff Cristee:
I have to change in order to lead young people and not become the old, bitter guy at the water cooler.
Video is a compelling medium. Ninety-five percent of all network traffic will be video traffic at the end of 2012.
Why should I limit how the customer wants to interact with me? Find out how your customer - each customer - wants to interact with you. Embrace it, and give it priority.
The audience was clear on wanting to know one thing from this panel: Why is it so hard to align sales and marketing? Many of the executives at the conference reported that they still find it difficult to translate talking about coordination into meaningful action. A few solid take-aways came out of this discussion, including ideas about how to hold marketing responsible for reaching sales goals - either by sharing scorecards or making marketing accountable for part of sales quota. Ideally, you want sales leaders and marketing leaders to speak with one voice and arrive at the common definition of what a lead is. Keep a lookout for emerging technologies that literally mandate a productive conversation between these two departments.
Moderator: Aaron Kahlow, CEO, Online Marketing Connect
Panelists: Bill Binch, VP of Sales, Marketo; Rich Blakeman, Sales Vice President, Miller Heiman, Inc.; Renee Gellatly, Marketing Director, NetApp
What's important to us about social media is that the market perceives us as a company that gets it - Rich Blakeman
There's so much activity on social media; the question is, how do we contain it. - Bill Binch
'Digital body language' gives us insight into what we're doing and what we need to be doing. - Renee Gellatly
Marketing is either a brand campaign or demand creation. - Aaron Kahlow
The digital age has forced Kodak to go back to the drawing board to focus on what's most valuable to its customers: creating and capturing memorable moments. Kodak CMO Jeffrey Hayzlett shared some specific steps he's taken to align Kodak's corporate strategy with the social media revolution. A dynamic, high-energy speaker who had the audience in stitches, Hayzlett reminded audiences that the key to gaining customer trust is authenticity. From staging branding contests on Twitter to establishing a Chief Listening Officer to monitor and route social media conversations to the right sales team or customer service department, Hayzlett inspired sales leaders to grab all opportunities to redefine customer engagement.
Key quotes from Jeffrey Hayzlett:
No one wakes up in the morning and says, 'Let's be stupid and do things wrong.'
When you engage and educate people on social media, they evangelize.
When someone says, 'screw you,' on social media, you want to know about it. You want a dialogue. You want to ask this person, 'What's the problem?' so that you can get them turned around.
A conclusive idea from this energetic panel: sales leaders and reps are all challengers, but they also love to build relationships. The question is, how can we balance the action-oriented traits of the former with the nurturing elements of the latter? Panelists had plenty of advice about closing the gap between your 80/20 performers and how to coach your teams on creating value for the customer. One tip: After completing a sale, salespeople at Heartland Payment Systems are taught to return to customers to ask a simple question: "Have I done what I promised?"
Moderator: Gerhard Gschwandtner, Founder and Publisher, Selling Power
Panelists: Sanford Brown, CSO, Heartland Payment Systems ; Tyrone Edwards, Retired SVP of Sales, Merck & Co.; Patrick Sweeney, President, Caliper; Jerry Whalen, Executive Director, International Sales Strategy, U.S. Postal Service
When was the last time you asked the key person you called on how they're compensated during the year? - Tyrone Edwards
Don't be afraid to have a discussion on either side; reps and managers need to have open communication. - Jerry Whalen
Make a commitment to the customer. Make a guarantee. If they're not happy, let them out of the contract. - Sanford Brown
Our job as sales leaders is to adapt our coaching style to sales reps, not the other way around. - Patrick Sweeney
This panel related real-life comeback stories that were by turns astounding and inspiring for any leader who wants to know how to enact positive change, especially for teams that have been hard-hit by disappointment. Panelists shared the steps they took to emerge from a recession stronger and more agile, including asking execs to reapply for their positions, taking radical new approaches to compensation structures, and establishing daily processes to make sure senior leadership stays in touch with the experience of the customer.
Moderator: David DiStefano, President & CEO, Richardson
Panelists: Larissa Chaikowsky, Institute for Learning, Bank of Montreal Financial Group; Jennifer Hammond, Director of Commercial and Consumer Learning, WellPoint Inc.; Allison Kerska, Senior Director, Global Learning, Kelly Services, Inc.; Tim Weyland, National Director, Organization and Talent Development, TriNet
What does it take to be a trusted advisor? Have your customers' best interests in mind and understand their business. - Tim Weyland
Our five-minute 'daily huddles' at Bank of Montreal Financial Group help keep frontline sales managers in tune with customer experience. - Larissa Chaikowsky
Our transformation came about because we thought, 'Why not? We have nothing to lose by trying.' - Allison Kerska
Conference host Gerhard Gschwandtner closed out the day with a round-up of the day's highlights and encouraged everyone in the room to set aside some time to write seven action steps for change in their organizations. "You are the true north," he said. "You know your values. You want to be the change leader, not the change victim."
Join us at our next Sales Leadership Conference on September 21, 2010 in Philadelphia. Sign up to receive a reminder email when registrations open for this conference. For more information or questions about the Sales Leadership Conference, contact Travis King at firstname.lastname@example.org.