The Big (Data) Obstacle that Sales Organizations Must Overcome

By Kelsey Peusch

Buzzwords like “big data” and phrases like “strategic data-driven decision making” have been bouncing around board rooms for quite some time. Experts report that up to 97% of organizations are investing in big data and AI, with each striving to harness data to be smarter about the people they target, the products they offer, the pricing they set, and the distribution paths they select.

Organizations across industries are clamoring for tools and techniques capable of aggregating important data as they mine for meaningful insights. No doubt the topic is hot, and there are bright spots emerging within the world of sales, yet why do so many sales organizations still struggle to fully optimize the potential of the data at their disposal?  

Read on to learn more about the power behind data analytics, why sales organizations continue to struggle to unlock its true potential, and the bright spots emerging within our own client portfolio.

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Prepare for Gen Z in Four Ways: Leadership, Learning, Technology, and Data

By Erica Abt

It is difficult to keep up with the latest generational trends, especially for sales leaders trying to drive performance while also balancing the needs of those they lead and serve. In fact, many sales leaders express how complicated it is to prioritize and implement any sort of business or culture change that they think will get the best return on their time, money, and effort.

My colleague, Kelsey, recently broke the bad news that Generation Z – yes, people born after 2001 – will soon be another key consideration for sales organizations. If you haven’t been paying attention to how generational differences are impacting your sales team, then you’re already late to the game. So, what’s our recommendation? Instead of just catching up on Millennials (which you can do here), this blog explores the critical places to focus in order to prepare for Generation Z that will also positively benefit Millennials along the way.

Topics: generation Z
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Generation Z is Coming, with Skills that will Surprise You... and Your Buyers

By Kelsey Peusch

What sounds as ominous as a Game of Thrones catchphrase or foreboding as a Brad Pitt Zombie reboot might be a blessing for corporations that will soon be forced to navigate a new set of rules to prime the next generation for the sales roles of those on the road to retirement. 

By our research, the oldest members of Generation Z are 18 years old (born in 2001 or after). Their story is yet to be fully written, but societal norms have shifted so significantly in the past 5 to 10 years that their impact on this next generation will likely be significant. From Washington’s partisan politicking and Hollywood’s #MeToo Movement to the power of social influencers, Generation Z exquisitely balances the need to be unique with that of being highly empathetic. Vulnerability is becoming a badge of honor, and authenticity seems to trump all else. Let’s take a deeper look to better understand how these influences are molding the next generation of highly empathetic sellers and thought leaders.

Spoiler alert – there is a lot more good than bad!

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How Do Sales Leaders Stay Credible and Legitimate?

By Hope Eyre

There’s this TED talk I like by General Stanley McChrystal called “Listen, Learn… then Lead.” We assign it as homework in our Leadership Academy, a 6-module program we’ve run for years at individual clients to ready their next generation managers for leadership positions across a variety of functions.

General McChrystal (who knew he was funny?) has several poignant messages delivered compellingly against the backdrop of combat, but his key takeaway is this: Leaders are good when they’re willing to learn.

“How," he asks, "does a leader stay credible and legitimate when they haven’t done what the people (they’re) leading are doing?”

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The Top 4 CRM Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them

By Erica Abt

CRM (Client Relationship Management) can be defined as “the strategy upon which companies plan, manage and analyze interactions across their customer’s lifecycle to acquire, grow and retain customers”.

That’s at least what CRM is supposed to be. Instead, what we usually hear from clients about their CRM are comments like:

“It’s a mess.”
“We use it badly.”
“We bought it for reporting but since nobody uses it, it adds no value.” 

For a tool that is so expensive, time-consuming to implement, and promises to help sales people do their jobs more easily, it’s surprising how many companies struggle to get the full return on their CRM investment. Why is it so difficult?

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Why Using Behavioral Assessments to Hire Sellers Requires Caution

By Hope Eyre

I drive too fast. This according to approximately 11 police officers and my boss, who recently banned me from renting cars and made taking Uber a condition of my continued employment. (In Dallas on business, I dutifully delivered him to DFW in a Dodge Challenger with a Hemi engine and evidently he had issues with his passenger experience.)

So what can we predict about my behavior the next time I’m behind the wheel? That depends on a number of factors, some of them random. I’ll get to how this relates to hiring sellers in a minute.

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Why Sales Enablement Belongs in Your Sales Technology Stack

By Masami Middleton

“Bold” is the best word to describe the opening of last week’s Seismic Shift, which is the annual customer conference for sales enablement provider Seismic. This year, 500 attendees gathered at San Diego’s sleek Pendry Hotel to share experiences and inspiration around sales enablement. The name of the conference itself -- “Seismic Shift” -- along with some skillful marketing, applies the notion of CHANGE to an industry (sales enablement) in the midst of crossing the proverbial chasm to mainstream adoption, and to the innovators (Seismic customers) who are using the technology to “transform their businesses.”

Seismic CEO Doug Winter shared impressive stats and trends on industry growth and Seismic’s momentum. According to SiriusDecisions, 74% of enterprises increased their sales enablement budget in 2017 and 37% of high performing organizations increased it by 30% or more. 

Winter noted that “something has changed” in their market, suggesting a move toward broad, mainstream adoption of sales enablement solutions. As sales performance consultants, we can attest to widespread pain we see amongst clients who are not fully leveraging sales content nor unified in their sales and marketing approach.  In addition to hefty year-over-year growth for Seismic itself, Winter further illustrated momentum with data such as a 220% increase in sales enablement job titles on LinkedIn in just two years.

Here are four key takeaways we drew from the conference and what we would challenge Sales, Sales Ops, and Sales Enablement leaders to think about as their organization implements a sales enablement solution.

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CSO, CRO, VP of Sales: Which Leader Fits Your Company? Which Fits You?

By Masami Middleton

As sales consultants, we encounter sales leaders with a variety of fancy acronyms in their titles. In addition to the SVPs/EVPs of Sales, the sales leader landscape also includes CROs, CSOs, and CGOs. While these titles imply a distinction in roles, to most people, it’s just alphabet soup. 

What’s the difference between a Chief Sales Officer (CSO) and a Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) or Chief Growth Officer (CGO)? From the CEO or board member perspective, which role does your business need? For a sales leader, which role is the best fit with your capabilities?

The easiest way to distinguish between these roles is to compare their scope of responsibility, core objectives, and what defines success. Appointing a “big hitter” to a CSO, CRO or CGO role, rather than a VP of Sales, indicates the need for a greater span of oversight from a strategic, revenue generation, and customer lifecycle perspective.

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3 Essential Considerations When Restructuring Your Sales Team

By Joni Santos

Consider this scenario: Your company is in growth mode and has acquired several smaller players in your space in recent years. The newly combined selling organization is a mess. Not only are multiple reps calling on the same customers, but it is evident that some sellers are focused on accounts with minimal potential, while others don’t even appear to have the skills necessary to sell and deliver on your value proposition. You aren’t seeing the results you expected and are under pressure to rectify the situation before you lose more market share.

A reorganization of your salesforce is necessary, but where do you start? And how do you ensure you are making decisions that will maximize impact and not just “rearrange the deck chairs,” so to speak? 

Whether you are merging disparate sales teams into one or merely restructuring your team to compete more effectively, a reorg can be quite daunting. Truthfully, there are many “balls” to juggle when restructuring, but if you stay focused on the three essential considerations of alignmentsize, and enablement, you’ll end-up with a sales organization poised for success.

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Top 3 Generational Takeaways for B2B Selling, from a Soon-to-be Sidelined Millennial

By Kelsey Peusch

It was the title of the Bloomberg article that first struck me as I scanned my daily Google alert email - Gen Z is Set to Outnumber Millennials Within a Year. For a moment I felt sad and then forgotten as I considered my own generation slipping into the abyss. Dramatic – I know, but the reality is (was) that Millennials were once the focus and had been for as long as I could remember. Who are they? What made them this way? How will their behaviors impact the way we engage with them in a B2B selling environment? As I contemplated the seemingly premature death of the generational spotlight, a sentiment I’m sure every generation that has come before mine can appreciate, I started to grapple with what this meant to ME...

For the past several years my colleagues, and I, have spent countless hours asking ourselves these questions. We wrote a book about The Multigenerational Sales Team, have published 13 blog posts on the topic, and have been discussing generational impacts on sales at events like the Dreamforce Conference, on podcasts like Quotable, and with a variety of clients globally over the past 18 months. Generational considerations are one of several lenses with which we view sales effectiveness. While the book explores each generation, the impetus and focus always tied back to Millennials – a generation which is set to exceed 75% of the workforce by 2020 (Brookings Institution).

Once I got past the fact that the key differentiator between Gen Z and Millennials was a keen sense of self-awareness versus self-centeredness (rude, though 100% accurate based on my reaction outlined above), I started to think less about what it meant to me and more broadly about how this changes our approach for preparing organizations for the next generation of sellers and buyers.

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