When you head to a conference for the first time, there’s typically a lot of hype. The question is, will it live up to expectations?
Recently our team joined sales leaders at the Frost & Sullivan Sales Team Alpine Retreat (STAR Summit). The focus was “Building Peak Performing Sales Organizations: The People, The Processes, and The Technology” and the discussion was right on the money, focusing on real issues faced by those truly in the trenches.
Sure we all love a good visionary TED Talk, but the reality is we were there to get down to business. To solve problems. To discuss conflicts. And to leave with calls to action. And that’s exactly what we did.
First, I want to thank Frost & Sullivan for a great event. They proved there’s tremendous value in treating sponsors and attendees as peers. Our badges were the same, as were our opportunities to learn, ask and share with each other. Vendors were respectful of the goals of the event, contributing to the discussion without being self-promotional. Though in some cases, vendors were best equipped to offer solutions to challenges because it’s their business to be very in tune with key trends and technology across the sales landscape, supporting a variety of companies in multiple industries.
Now, when we look at the topics that were discussed, one thing was clear. It was incredible how consistent and common the top 3-4 issues were, regardless of whether the person sharing was coming from the perspective of sales management, sales ops or sales reps. The same challenges spanned industry and company size and include:
- The never-ending data-entry cycle. Sales management requires reps log the details about their deals in their CRM. Every meeting, every phone call, every contact. Reps hate entering the data. They only do it when required, typically right before a report is being pulled or a meeting with their manager. They enter the bare minimum. The manager gets limited insight, if any at all, into the current status of the deal. And then they require conversations to make their forecast, because the data in the CRM isn’t worth much. And then the cycle starts again. No one likes it, but they keep it up, because it’s how it’s always been.
- Technology alone won’t improve sales effectiveness. There are 400+ SalesTech solutions, but without processes and training, they simply won’t improve effectiveness. It doesn’t matter how great the marketing spin is, or how slick the UI is, successful adoption and results require tying the new tools to existing processes and ensuring it works well with every other action in your buyer’s journey.
- A forecast is just a number. Sure there’s need to be as accurate as possible. But even more important than that “number” a sales pro is predicting, is how to improve it during the quarter—rather than trying to explain it after the fact. Think about a weather “forecast.” Is it more important to know the hurricane is likely to hit your city or to know the steps to keep you and your family safe? If it’s me, I want to know how to board my house, which stores have supplies still in stock, what gas stations have gas, and what route I should take to get my family out of the path. The forecast sounds great, but the reality is it’s an educated vision, and not something that changes the top line.
It was a great few days full of engaging discussion that will set a great tone as we look ahead and work to solve real challenges across the B2B sales community.
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