Top Sales Technology Solution Providers of 2017

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CIO Applications Magazine announces the top 25 sales technology solution providers of 2017

Nicholas de Kouchkovsky’s 2017 Sales Tech Landscape notably includes over 700 sales technology providers organized into 32 categories (up from 300 in his first edition, published in 2015). It’s astounding to see how far the sales technology industry has come in just a few short years! Management of the sales tech stack is proving to be, understandably, complicated for sales organizations large and small. In his article, de Kouchkovsky illustrates:

“I have vivid memories of a well-known company sharing at an American Association of Inside Sales Professionals (AA-ISP) meeting that its inside sales department was using more applications than having people!”

(de Kouchkovsky, Sales Tech Landscape 2017: Making Sense of 700+ Players)

sales technology solution CIO MagazineCIO Applications Magazine steps in to help Chief Innovation Officers (CIO) make informed sales technology purchase and integration decisions for their own sales organizations. In reviewing this burgeoning industry, CIO Application Magazine’s review panel of CEOs, CIOs, and VCs selected just 25 vendors most capable of providing the best sales technology to fulfill management needs. The resulting Top 25 Sales Technology Solution Providers list helps CIOs provide value to the business by enabling a smarter, more productive sales organization through innovation and technology.

See The Full Top 25 Sales Technology Solutions Providers List

CommercialTribe is honored to be included in this list. Our continued commitment to improving sales manager development through our platform and services solutions uniquely enables sales teams to achieve above average quota attainment. We fully believe that activating frontline sales managers as coaches is the next big key to sales performance enhancement. That belief has, and continues to be, validated through the work we have pioneered in partnership with some of the most progressive sales organizations in the world.

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How To Improve Sales Productivity With CommercialTribe

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Improve sales productivity by improving the performance of your sales managers and reps.

Anyone can become a salesperson, but very few are actually good at it. True professionals are always on the lookout for how they can improve sales productivity. The ability to take those that have chosen to become not just great salespeople, but great sales managers and leaders, and give them the tools they need to improve their craft is why the team at CommercialTribe gets out of bed every day.

The reality of the sales profession is that the “make it or break it” mentality is what is keeping sales organizations from attaining the next level of sales productivity. Our big idea is that we can improve sales productivity by moving sales teams into a sustainable world where people are being coached and developed on an ongoing basis. A world where sales teams reach their maximum productivity not by waiting for the next improvement in CRM technology, but through the improved effectiveness of each of their interactions.

Becoming a great sales professional is just like becoming great at anything. If you want to become a guitar player or basketball player, you practice your craft. You practice every day, and you put your practice to the test by performing in concerts or games. In a quota-driven environment, the ability to hone your craft as a salesperson is compressed. You have to get to performance level fast, and you have very little time in your schedule to do it. You need a tool that enables practice, reinforcement, and feedback to get you to your goal.

Founded by sales executives and built by reps for reps, CommercialTribe has a broad set of observational modalities to capture reps in both simulated and live environments. This gives sales managers and leaders visibility into critical interactions that they are currently blind to and provides reps with a clear path forward to improved performance.

Learn how you can improve sales productivity with CommercialTribe >>>

CommercialTribe—More Than Just A Pitch Certification Platform

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CommercialTribe is a SaaS Sales Team Development Platform—Developed by Salespeople for Salespeople.

After decades of working his way up the ranks of some of the most well-regarded sales organizations, CommercialTribe’s CEO and founder, Paul Ironside, realized that something wasn’t right in the industry. As a sales leader, Paul had access to all the data one would need to analyze sales activity, forecasts, pipeline metrics, cost of sales, goal attainment, etc. But he lacked the ability to actually observe his sellers and managers in action consistently. Without efficient observational capabilities, sales leaders around the world were restricted to viewing their world from the vantage point of lagging indicators. They were only able to see that something was wrong after their team missed their goal or after their top performers quit. This reality was simply unacceptable.

Paul began searching for a tool that would provide him with the ability to observe his sales team in action and empower sales managers and leaders to coach and develop individuals based on their specific needs. While his search for what he needed came up empty, the idea continued to fester and grow. Finally, he realized what he had to do. He had to create it himself.

From Paul’s vision came CommercialTribe. Born as a practice platform for sales reps, CommercialTribe has matured into so much more. As we partnered with some of the most progressive sales organizations in the world, such as LinkedIn, HubSpot, nVidia and more, the insights that our customers provide have helped shape the CommercialTribe of today—and continue to do so in the future.

CommercialTribe is no longer simply a practice and pitch certification platform. It is an environment that empowers the entire sales organization—from sellers and their managers to sales operations and enablement—CommercialTribe has become a platform that aligns the entire sales organization to increase productivity and improve performance.

From onboarding to launching a new product, re-branding to sales transformations, upskilling to professional development and more, global sales organizations rely on CommercialTribe to execute, measure, coach and improve.

Ready to take your sales organization to the next level? Schedule a demo today and tell us what your sales team needs!

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Building A Millennial-Minded Sales Organization

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Build a millennial-minded sales organization to create a sustainable revenue machine.

Putting whatever prejudices you may have about millennials aside for a moment, building a millennial-minded sales organization isn’t simply about appeasing the “entitled generation”. It’s also about building a sales coaching and development culture within your sales organization that will benefit employees of all ages—and your top line.

Roughly 73 million people were born in the US between 1982 and 1996. Now the largest generation in the workforce, millennials are claiming their place on the org chart and challenging workplace norms. Millennials’ unique experiences and characteristics have inspired a tremendous amount of research, literature, training seminars, and (let’s not forget) ire from those who manage them.

But we’ve come to understand the millennial mindset much better since their debut in the job market in the early 2000s. Companies and teams have made significant changes in procedures, expectations, compensation, benefits, and review structures to engage and motivate their millennial workforce. However, the traditional sales organization continues to struggle with developing, motivating and retaining millennial sellers.

As sales leaders, we need to reconsider the traditional structure of our sales team to build a millennial-minded sales organization.

What is a Millennial-Minded Sales Organization?

Let’s take a look at the motivators that are typically characteristic of your millennial team. Millennials are the first generation of digital natives. They are connected to limitless information at their fingertips but remain unconstrained by norms and relationships. They don’t accept “the way it’s always been” and instead push for change they believe in.

Millennials are often characterized as idealistic, valuing experience and a sense of purpose over money. While this may have some truth to it, the underlying reality is that your millennial employees are paid less (inflation-adjusted) and have far greater debt than their Baby Boomer and GenX counterparts did at their age. They expect that, while they are just squeaking by financially now, they can achieve financial security by developing relevant skills that make them more marketable and gaining experience. They are very focused on professional growth, and they are impatient about how they get it.

Organizations are adjusting compensation, training and development, communication and transparency, and hierarchy structures to build millennial-minded organizations.

However, the sales organization continues to struggle with making these adjustments. With the fast-paced, “produce or perish” atmosphere typical of any sales team, making room for the millennial mindset is seen as being simply impossible.

Free Guide: Build Your Millennial-Minded Sales Organization >>

Are You Ready for a Millennial-Minded Sales Organization?

Millennial Molly vs. CSO CHris - Building A Millennial-Minded Sales Organization | CommercialTribeYou’re the CSO. You have about 18 months to prove that you can move the company’s revenue forward to reach its goal, otherwise you’re out. How do you prove you can do the job?

If you follow the traditional Sales Leader playbook, you rely heavily on driving activity and goal compliance through Salesforce. You focus on the classic top-down hierarchy of communication and squeezing maximum productivity out of each asset and hour you have available to you. All this means that you identify where people work at their best and then you keep them there. Because change creates waste—wasted time, wasted productivity, wasted effort.

Rather than moving people around, letting them try new things, and figuring out how to develop people, the comp plan is really your favorite motivator. And why not? We all know that salespeople are coin-operated. You put the money incentive in, and revenue comes out.

But with all that we’ve learned about millennials in the workplace over the past several years, the reality is that your traditional means of motivating people and operating a salesforce is quickly becoming irrelevant. This new crop of reps and entry-level managers expect something very different. They expect more. You can love them. You can hate them. But you can’t ignore the impact millennials are currently having—and will continue to have—on our sales organizations.

“Millennials Aren’t My Problem”

At this point, you may be thinking that this just isn’t your problem. Millennials are entitled and they need to just get over it or go back to living off their mommies and daddies.

Well, you’re wrong. Millennials are now the largest generation in the workforce, a segment that will only continue to grow over the coming years. Furthermore, get ready for GenZ coming in behind them. While they are different from millennials in many ways, they are still expected to expect many of the same workplace reforms that millennials have pushed for.

Plus, you have a bigger problem. Only 56% of your sales reps are attaining quota, and you have better odds of winning it big in Vegas and being able to retire early than you do of getting an accurate forecast from your sales managers. You may have about a 25% turnover rate, largely due to missed quotas, burnout, and top reps getting recruited away. By the way, these numbers have been an issue for sales leaders around the globe for decades. You can’t simply blame it on the “new kids” coming in and not being loyal. This is your problem, and it’s only going to get worse.

You can no longer afford to maintain the status quo. You need a solution to developing your millennial sales team now, so you can enjoy the returns into the future.

Aligning Needs in a Millennial-Minded Sales Organization

We’ve established that your millennial-minded sales reps (and, potentially, entry-level managers) are looking for something perhaps a bit more than you are traditionally able to provide. But your revenue goal reality is not just going to go away. So how can you build a millennial-minded sales organization without sacrificing efficacy and performance?

Solution: The Sales Team Development Loop.

Using a sales team development loop, you can put the development of your entire sales team on auto-pilot, allowing you to improve your team’s overall effectiveness while satisfying your sales reps’ need for professional development and continual feedback.

HubSpot is an example of how this works for millennial-minded sales teams. Working with their SMB team, we were able to help young frontline sales managers learn how to coach their sales reps to help improve performance and retention on the team. Running a sales development loop with HubSpot’s SMB sales team, we partnered with sales leaders and operations to build a millennial-minded sales organization where learning and development are key to measuring and improving performance—and hitting quota every month.

Learn How To Buildi A Millennial-Minded Sales Organization | CommercialTribe

How To Make Quota Every Quarter with a Sales Development Loop

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The sales development loop helps you get your team to quota every quarter.

Your revenue goal for the quarter is clear. How you reach it is not. In fact, it’s likely that only 57% of your sales reps will hit their quota. What might that mean for you if this trend continues? Let’s try not to think about it.

The solution to the problem is clear: sales team development. Sales team development refers to the development of your entire sales team, from management to reps. What most sales leaders don’t realize is how much of an impact frontline sales manager development has on goal attainment. A company that invests $2,500 per frontline sales manager per year increases revenue plan attainment by 18.4%—on average, 106.7%—compared to those who don’t. Now, let’s think about what that might do for your career!

The sales development loop is a simple, yet highly effective process for improving the performance of busy sales teams. It puts the development of your entire team on auto-pilot by running each loop over the course of a quarter (three months), broken up into three 30-day segments.

Though we have run development loops that attempted to improve multiple types of sales interactions, we’ve found that they are far more successful when each loop is focused on just one specific interaction. Begin your sales development loop by identifying a specific area of the sales process that you want to improve.

For many teams just getting started with the sales development loop process, we recommend starting with the discovery call (or equivalent). The main reason for this is, based on the 30,000+ sales calls we’ve observed, 25% of qualified opportunities are wasted due to poor discovery calls. Even just a small decrease in that number will have a huge impact on your business.

Note that sales team development also includes managers, so you can also target the development of your sales managers using the development loop. Because training dollars are traditionally spent on sales skills training for reps, few managers receive relevant sales management coaching needed to develop critical management skills. Leaders who are interested in the development of their sales managers might target the forecast review, for example, to improve the effectiveness of manager-to-seller interactions.

The main idea is to pick just one interaction to focus on for each sales development loop. Once you decide on that interaction, take the time to identify what behaviors and characteristics make that interaction successful to create an “assessment map”.

Step 1: Calibrate Your Sales Development Loop

Download a Free Sales Assessment Map Template to Calibrate Your Sales Development Loop | CommercialTribeYour sales assessment map can be a simple spreadsheet that plots attributes and behaviors you are looking for in the interaction against the score you would give for each seller or manager being assessed. For example, when assessing your team’s sales discovery calls, you’ll want to identify how well they set an agenda, ask qualifying questions, build rapport, and close for next steps. Rate each behavior on a scale of 1 to 5, 1 meaning “non-existent” and 5 meaning “excellent”.

The sales assessment map will help you stay focused on the behaviors that you’ve identified as most important to making the interaction successful. It will also help keep your scoring and feedback consistent and objective for each person being assessed.

FREE Sales Assessment Map Template! Download Now >>

Step 2: Baseline Sales Skills Assessment

Take the first 30 days of the sales development loop to observe your sales team’s behavior in the specific development area you are focusing on to get a baseline for where your team’s skill level is currently. Resist the temptation to try and fix problems as you see them. Just focus on understanding the current state.

There are two ways you can observe your sales team. You can either sit in on a live call or you can have them submit a call recording. Either way, have your assessment map ready for each call you observe so you can score performance as you go.

Call recording can save you a bit of time, and it provides you with real-life examples of what great performance looks like. When you start coaching your team in the next step, showing these examples to your reps will help them understand exactly what you are looking for.

Step 3: Activate Sales Coaching & Development

The next 30 days of the sales development loop is dedicated to coaching. Based on your assessments, how can you most efficiently allocate your time and energy toward developing your sales team to have maximum impact? This will take some practice, but getting good at it will save you a lot of time.

Chances are you will find that some reps are great in some areas, but need further development in others. Your assessment maps will highlight specifically who needs help in each area, allowing you to efficiently and effectively coach based on personal strengths and opportunities for improvement.

Step 4: Measure Sales Development Progression

Finally, the last 30 days of the sales development loop is meant to observe your team a second time and look for skills progression. Can you see evidence that your team is improving? Celebrate progress on the skill the same way you would celebrate hitting quota and you will be on your way toward creating an environment for your people to get better.

Sales team development isn’t for everyone. It takes a certain type of forward-thinking sales leader to commit to “slowing down to go further.” But once they see the final results, those that do make the commitment are energized and excited to do more. And, no, it’s not just about keeping your job. It’s really about building a world-class sales organization and a sustained revenue-generating machine through continual coaching and development.

Download a FREE Sales Assessment Map Template to Get Your Team To Quota Every Quarter | CommercialTribe

A Common Sense Guide to Recording Sales Calls

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Recording sales calls doesn’t have to be a legal drama with this common sense approach.

When recording sales calls, it is always a good idea to tell the person on the other line that the call is being recorded. This is not just for legal reasons, it’s also about building (or maintaining) trust and rapport. If you start your call by first informing and then asking politely if you can record a call, you are legal in all US states.

This process is as simple as saying: “Thank you for taking the time to meet with me today, Christine. I would like to record our call today so I can focus on our conversation rather than taking notes during it. Is that OK with you?”

Don’t worry about people abandoning a phone call just because you’re recording it. Call recording is a common occurrence these days, particularly in sales and customer service interactions. People have come to expect it. Your odds of getting struck by lightning are better than the person on the other line saying no (a little bit of an exaggeration, but you get the point).

Alternatives to Recording Sales Calls

If your organization has a policy against recorded calls, or if many of your sales interactions take place in person, there are common sense alternatives. One tried-and-true approach is a joint call with manager and rep. Their presence on a call should still be announced, but this allows sales coaching to occur without recording the call.

You can also practice sales calls, to be submitted and reviewed by management prior to making live client or prospecting calls. Common practice interactions include practicing voicemails, first pitches, walking through a demo, and roleplaying with a colleague. Practicing sales interactions improves seller performance without throwing leads away.

Recording Sales Calls – The Fine Print

Recording Sales Calls in the U.S.

Understanding the Legality of Recording Sales Calls | CommercialTribe Sales Enablement & Training SolutionBefore we get into the legalities of sales call recording, let me be up-front in telling you that I am not a lawyer and you should by no means consider this legal advice. Please consult your own general counsel if you have specific questions or concerns regarding recording sales calls.

California has the most stringent regulations regarding recording sales calls (real shocker there). Ever litigious, California courts have ruled over several call recording cases brought forward by its citizens over the years. The California Supreme Court has even gone so far as to rule (more than once) that a company that is not located in the state of California but is speaking with a California resident, must comply with California call recording law. In effect, making California law the law of the land, unless you don’t intend to do business in California.

This ties back to the first section of this blog. If you simply inform all participants that the call is being recorded as previously described, you are on the right side of the law in all 50 states without needing to worry about the specifics of each state.

Most webinar and conference providers automatically inform participants that a call is being recorded when they join. This is something that you will want to check on with your service provider. Even when you have an automatic announcement in place, it’s still a good idea to reinforce the message at the beginning of the call. Again, your main goal is to avoid the potential “yuck” feeling your prospects or clients might get by just being upfront with them.

Luckily, things only get easier from there. Simply put, U.S. federal law permits the recording of telephone calls and in-person conversations with the consent of at least one party. Technically speaking, this means that if you are party to the sales call and you consent to you recording the call, you’re not going to be raided by the FBI or the NSA.

Legal complications do enter the picture when you start looking at state call recording laws. Believe it or not, 38 states and the District of Columbia have all adopted the federal “one-party” requirement (that is a lot higher than I was expecting). The rest require varying degrees of what is called “two-party” consent but what actually means “all-party” consent. In other words, all parties involved in the sales call or in-person conversation need to consent to the conversation being recorded.

Click here for a full list of laws governing recording sales calls by state.

Recording International Sales Calls

As you might imagine, laws governing call recording vary widely from one country to another. Generally speaking, if you’re making sales calls into Canada and/or Europe you need to make sure you are getting consent from all parties involved in the conversation being recorded.

My 2nd best advice in this matter (again, 1st best advice is given in the first section of this blog!) is to simply do a Google search for the country you are calling to educate yourself and make sure you are finding information that has been updated recently, as laws do change.

The legality of recording sales calls comes up fairly often when we’re talking with clients and contacts here at CommercialTribe. The answer does not need to be as complicated as one might think. There is no law that flatly prohibits recording inbound and outbound interactions with your clients or potential clients. The complexities are in who needs to be involved in consenting to the recording.

In any case, it is simply best practice to be open about the fact that you are recording the call and gain the other party’s consent in the first place. This will not only protect you from potential legal repercussions but will also ensure you are not doing anything that will harm the relationship you are building with the other party.

Download Our Free Common Sense Sales Recording Scripts >>

The Essential Dreamforce 2016 Game Plan

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Each year, Salesforce.com does a spectacular job in bringing together speakers sessions, activities focused on helping you learn, grow, and succeed – no matter your industry, company size or role.

As a past attendee, I know that the sheer scale of the event can be overwhelming, and you really have to approach the four days with a solid game plan. That’s why we scoured the agenda and came up with this list of sessions – covering hot topics across onboarding, training, coaching, and analytics – that progressive sales and enablement leaders should not miss. We’re especially excited about The Sales Summit – one day of insightful sessions including four tailored tracks for Sales Strategy, Sales Leadership, Sales Development, and Sales Operations.

1: Drive Amazing Results with Modernized Prospecting: Tips and Tricks
Tuesday, Oct 4, 12:00 PM – 2:00 PM | San Francisco Marriott Marquis Hotel, Yerba Buena Salon 8

Here are back-to-back sessions on sales development in a hyperconnected world. Join social selling experts leading discussions around success metrics, sales discovery, and the importance of social media in your sales strategy. Marketing expert Jill Rowley explores why the modern buyer is overwhelmed.

2: Standing Out as a Strong Sales Leader in the Age of the Customer
Tuesday, Oct 4, 2:15 PM – 3:45 PM | San Francisco Marriott Marquis Hotel, Yerba Buena Salon 9

Salesforce will share how the company has managed a rapidly growing sales organization. Then, a panel of experts will cover leadership in sales prospecting, and creating value for customers to close deals.

3: What It Takes to Be the Best Sales Coach
Tuesday, Oct 4, 4:00 PM – 5:10 PM | San Francisco Marriott Marquis Hotel, Yerba Buena Salon 9

Join this session and pick up some proven leadership tactics on building a robust coaching strategy, along with a new framework for sales leaders.

4: Call Your Shot: Predicting Sales Performance through Coaching
Tuesday, Oct 4, 11:00 AM – 11:40 AM | InterContinental San Francisco Hotel, Grand Ballroom C

Last year only 44% of salespeople hit their goal. Only 46% of deals to forecast as “Closed” actually closed. Sales coaching has emerged as the catalyst for sales success. Learn how you can build an award-winning coaching culture.

5: Building Powerhouse Sales Teams
Thursday, Oct 6, 3:30 PM – 3:50 PM | San Francisco Marriott Marquis Hotel, CRM Outfitters Theater South

Coaching, providing feedback, and motivating employees is the key to creating sales teams that stay focused, building strong relationships with customers, and hitting quota. Join this session to learn best practices for leading sales teams to success – tips based on research and hands-on experience.

BUT…Dreamforce wouldn’t be complete without a lineup of fun, empowering, and inspirational sessions that you absolutely shouldn’t miss either. Here are our favorites:

Dreampitch Competition Keynote
Tuesday, Oct 4, 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM | Moscone West, Keynote Room, Level 3

Dreampitch is a startup pitch competition where three early-stage startups building on Salesforce App Cloud pitch their company to legendary investors and entrepreneurs Mark Cuban and Chris Sacca. You won’t want to miss it.

“Be a Customer Trailblazer” with Marc Benioff & Special Guests
Wednesday, Oct 5, 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM | Moscone North, Moscone North Hall D

Marc Benioff and industry giants discuss the future of customer engagement including how innovative companies are using the cloud, mobility, IoT and artificial intelligence to achieve new levels of success with connecting with their customers.

Dreamfest and Benefit for UCSF Children’s Hospitals featuring U2
Wednesday, Oct 5, 7:00 PM – 10:00 PM | Cloud (Cow) Palace, 2600 Geneva Ave, Daly City, CA 94014

It’s U2. Need we say more?

Of course, we’d love to connect with you at Dreamforce as well. We hope to see you there!

3 Key Things I Took Away from SiriusDecisions Summit 2016

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Last week –– along with 3000 other marketing and sales professionals –– I descended upon the Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee for the 11th annual SiriusDecisions Summit.

In addition to making incredible connections with key customers, having insightful conversations with SiriusDecisions Analysts, and networking with sales and marketing leaders at the Summit, I was glad to make time to do some learning.

Candidly, I gravitated to the sessions that focused on Sales, Sales Enablement, and Sales Operations, but the topic that resonated with me the most was around messaging. With so many great sessions, there was a lot of information to take in, but here were my main takeaways.

#1 The B2B sales rep is still vitally important in the digital age

Messaging is such a key component to the sales and marketing function. And while marketing has a huge responsibility to understand the buyer and develop messaging that is going to be impactful along the various stages of the buyers journey, according to Sirius Decisions data presented by Heather Cole and Christine Polewarczyk, B2B sales reps are vitally essential during every stage of the buyer’s journey with regard to how and when they deliver the content. While 79% of buyers found content very or extremely influential in making purchase decisions, 68% said that their interactions with salespeople were similarly influential. Salespeople who leverage content — particularly early in the sales cycle — were more likely to close deals.

While 79% of buyers find content very or extremely influential in making purchase decisions, 68% said that their interactions with salespeople were similarly influential.

Also key in this equation is that B2B buyers interact with sales reps during every phase of the buyer’s journey – even during that famous first 67% of the journey that takes place digitally.

#2 Don’t overlook the value of the sales presentation

So, as I mentioned earlier, digital buying behaviors are not squeezing out the role of the B2B sales professional. Far from it. What’s more, the sales presentation itself is one of the two biggest influences in the buying decision (tied for first place with the analyst report).

The sales presentation is one of the two biggest influences in the buying decision (tied for first place with the analyst report).

And while the sales presentation is important, we shouldn’t ignore the seller delivering the information or the story that accompanies the slides. Sales reps need to be enabled on not only how to build an effective sales presentation but also on how to effectively deliver the key messages and value that brings the presentation to life. In fact, SiriusDecisions says that the number one reason sales reps fail to hit their quota is their inability to articulate value.

#3 The key to moving a deal forward is aligning the sales process to the buyers’ journey

I don’t believe this is a new concept for most sales and marketing professionals, however, Tony Jaros stated in his keynote that 67% of sales organizations still have not implemented a buyer-aligned sales process and buyers are not one of the five pillars of intelligent growth. The next-generation Attribute-Based Sales process drives sales organizations to define interlocked buyer and seller attributes, and helps map opportunity DNA. Presented by Steven Silver, Peter Ostrow and Heather Cole, it illustrates beautifully how to map buyer attributes and activities with seller attributes and activities.

67% of sales organizations still have not implemented a buyer-aligned sales process and buyers are not one of the five pillars of intelligent growth. Tony Jaros

Whether you agree or have a counterpoint to my key takeaways, I’d certainly welcome the opportunity to further share our approach to effective sales messaging, delivery, and value articulation. Contact Us!

Why the Sales Environment is Unique: Reflections from ATD 2016

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The sales environment is fundamentally unique from other functional areas of your business.

The sales function has always been different. Those who have grown up in sales organizations and are now responsible for Sales Enablement know this. Think about it – only in the sales function have we stood up an entire training and development team focused on making that specific function better. We don’t have finance enablement, legal enablement, or marketing enablement. That would be downright ridiculous!

So what makes sales different? It is the environment.

At the ATD International Conference and Exposition held this past week here in Denver, Simon Sinek, most well known for his Top 5 most viewed TED Talk on leadership, taught us that we are social animals and ultimately products of our environment. Take the average person and move them from one environment to another, and their behavior will change. Good environments foster trust and cooperation. Bad environments foster cynicism and paranoia.

When it comes to the sales environment versus other business functions, some of the basic structural tenants that make sales unique have not changed for some time.

Sales is the only function that:

  1. …is truly market facing. Because sales is continually coming in contact with the market and the market is dynamic, the pace of change is much faster than anywhere else. Learning must also be more dynamic to be relevant.
  2. …is built primarily on a variable compensation model. As a result, salespeople are often called “coin-operated,” meaning they are wired to focus their time on selling activity. A higher burden of impact on learning activity exists than elsewhere.
  3. …is organized as a classic hierarchy. Hierarchies create walls between managers and reps, blocking free-flow of information, as each part of the hierarchy considers its own self-interest first and foremost. Barriers are more significant, which can block trust and cooperation.

If you live and breathe sales, none of this is news to you, but these fundamental differences that actually create a very different environment may not be as clear to others. With the revolution going on in enterprise learning technology, many would like to think that the same innovative approaches being implemented across the business involving micro-learning and knowledge on-demand will work for sales as they work for other business functions. Right?

Wrong! While the concepts are sound, a deep understanding of how to apply them to the sales environment is critical if they are to work.

Miss the ATD Conference this year? Contact us to get a recap of the sessions and content!

And as Sinek shared, the key to leadership that has the power to create the environment is consistency, not intensity.

You don’t wake up one day, go to the gym for 10 hours, then proclaim yourself in shape. It happens over time. Yet, most of our change efforts for sales today are still based on intensity – The Sales Kickoff the clearest example. Real change takes more than a week and less than a year. In other words, it takes commitment and inherent belief that what you are doing the right thing.

If you are, despite the inevitable bumps in the road, results will follow.

2016 SiriusDecisions Summit Sessions You Cannot Miss

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2016’s SiriusDecisions Summit is right around the corner – May 24-27 in Nashville. This event always serves as one of the most progressive windows into the evolution of the Sales, Marketing, & Enablement ecosystem. Over the past couple of years, the things that we’ve taken away have provided much of our strategic roadmap at CommercialTribe.

While SiriusDecisions continues to highlight insights on the topics that matter most to sales, one of their best discoveries remains a key theme at every single conference. Despite innovations in training, tools, & general strategy, the #1 reason why reps fail to hit quota is still an inability to effectively articulate value to their prospects. If your programs and strategies – including onboarding – are not addressing this issue, chances are good that performance is being affected.

We’re focused on learning more about how leading companies are thinking about overcoming this challenge. Here are four sessions at the Summit that we will NOT be missing:

1. The SiriusDecisions Messaging Nautilus: Success Stories and Lessons Learned

Time: May 26th, 1:00 pm – 1:40 pm
Speaker: Marisa Kopec, Vice President, Innovation and Product Management, SiriusDecisions

To drive home one of Sirius’ sharpest discoveries again, the #1 reason why reps fail to hit quota is the inability to articulate value. The sales message remains one of, if not the most, important factors in a deal being won or lost. Messaging is not just the business of marketing – without a strong, audience-centric set of messages that reps can take into the field, your chances of closing business drop dramatically.

The Messaging Nautilus tool directly combats this issue, helping companies shift sales messages from generic, feature-loaded scripts to consultative conversations with prospects that reps actually want to use. Applying a common approach to all of your messages – even competitive differentiators and objections – can increase buyer confidence and better relate your solution to the market.

2. Assessing Execution and Impact of Sales Onboarding

Time: May 26th, 2:40 – 3:20 pm
Speaker: Mark Levinson, VP and Group Director, Sales Services, SiriusDecisions

Onboarding is one of the most talked about, and still least addressed challenges facing sales. Shifting the process from a 2 or 90-day event into a tenure-long program of learning is vital, yet difficult even with large enablement teams. All aspects of the program – from creating a cadence to proving ROI – have to be tuned toward continual, effective learning for reps.

What’s at stake when onboarding fails? Not only do fewer reps have to fight to meet the same goal, but the organization wastes an incredibly high investment in their new hires – along with all of their future productivity. Building a best-in-class program is not only a dream of sales and enablement but should be a top focus of finance and revenue teams.

3. Establishing a Best-in-Class Sales Management Process

Time: May 26th, 4:00 – 4:40 pm
Speakers:
Don Drury, Sales Enablement, SiriusDecisions
Ian Savage, Consulting Practice Director, SiriusDecisions

Sales Managers might have the most demanding job on the team – the Sherpa for your organization’s climb to goal. Not only do they still need to carry the number – one now consisting of dozens of reps’ goals – but they also need to coach, mentor, give feedback, and lead team and one-on-one meetings. Some are successful without a plan, but for the bulk of sales managers, much gets put aside to hit the number. The result? The average sales management tenure can be as low as 15 months.

Sales managers need a plan, a set of metrics, and a cadence to reach success in their responsibility areas. Without diverting from the core goal of hitting the number, managers can make small, targeted adjustments to improve reps, reinforce top performers, and identify issues before they threaten targets.

4. Third-Party Influencers: Sales and Marketing’s Secret Weapon

Time: May 25th, 2:20 – 3:00 pm
Speaker: Julie Ogilvie, Senior Research Director, Strategic Communications Management, SiriusDecisions

Marketing content can take many forms, yet one often overlooked is the power of influencer materials. Sales is often armed with internally produced materials, white papers, and reports, but rarely have more than case studies to use in building third-party validation. Meanwhile, influencers across your industry are independently reviewing your products and services and publishing content that positions your solution in the market.

We should not overlook this aspect in sales training either. The market is newly rich with sales strategy influencers – such as Jill Rowley, Jamie Shanks, and Jenny Dearborn – who are constantly building and sharing tools that reps, managers, and VP Sales leaders can take directly into their practice. While third-party content has clear benefits for external communications, no not forget the benefit on training that influencers can bring.

Heading to the conference? Let us know – we’d love to grab coffee and share ideas.