Another great couple days of learning and networking at Selling Power‘s Sales 2.0 Conference in San Francisco to start the week. Two packed days of great sessions, and plenty of serendipitous opportunities in between (more on that below).
There were a ton of great takeaways, ideas and opportunities, but here are ten that I thought emerged as particularly important themes:
1. The more things change, the more they stay the same
The tools and processes we use to manage the buying process continues to change rapidly, but the buying process – what the buyer wants, how they want to approach the buying process, the progression they go through from pain/problem to translating into an outcome/objective well before they look for a solution – is largely the same. The tools, strategies and processes we can now employ, automate and integrate are great, but they’re a means to an ends, and we have to make sure they don’t get in the way of managing authentic prospect relationships and facilitating the buyer.
2. It’s easy to get intimidate and inundated, and fail to do SOMETHING
None of us are doing enough to improve the buyer experience, create greater efficiencies in our sales processes, and maximize return on marketing investment and inbound leads. But it’s easy to walk away from a conference like this with too many things to do, which can keep you from prioritizing and making progress at least in one or two places. At any good conference, take good notes but go home with 1-2 things you’ll start exploring and implementing right away. Make it easy to get start, and let your momentum lead you to other opportunities in the days, weeks and months ahead.
3. Marketers should attend more sales conferences
It’s clear that marketers, in general, still don’t really understand their sales counterparts – how they work, the pressures they face, what it’s like to hear “no” most of the time every day. And several times the past couple days we discussed the idea that marketers should spend more time at conferences like this, that address a number of sales challenges and feature front-line sales managers struggling with how to drive better performance. Having an active, out-of-the-office discussion between sales and marketing at an event like this could really accelerate how those teams interact and execute more seamlessly and successfully back at the office.
4. Technology is replacing media (and driving better results)
Marketers historically have spent most of their budgets on media, lists and creative. And those opportunities aren’t going anywhere. But the technology tools we now have access to that help us create content, drive inbound traffic and leads, manage those leads greater buyer value and pipeline yield, etc. are becoming table stakes for great sales & marketing organizations. And smart marketing leaders can ramp their investment in these tools while decreasing overall budget (by decreasing traditional media budgets) and in the process increase their contribution to sales success.
5. Presentations aren’t just about the people in the room
Maybe five years ago, you gave a presentation at a conference like this and were trying to impress those in the room. That’s still important. But now, your presentation can immediately go viral. If you build and present in bite-size nuggets, tweets about your presentation can spread exponentially beyond the in-room audience. Post your deck online (or a video of your presentation, even better) and your investment in the presentation can have significantly larger and wider impact.
6. Value is driven by much more than what you’re selling
It’s not just about your product or service. It’s also about how you support the customer, prioritize helpfulness and openness throughout the buying process as well as the full customer lifecycle. The more you help prospects with their problems and needs before they buy (and without knowing if they’re even a qualified prospect), the more quickly you create trust and credibility – thereby increasing conversion, sales cycle speed and referrals (even from those who don’t buy).
7. Sales operations is a linchpin to success and growth
There are people in every sales organization that make it successful. The sales operations staff make it easier for their team to sell, help them spend more of their time selling and less time on non-sales activities, and generally play a thankless job to enable growth and success. I’d love to see more sales operations content and representatives at this conference moving forward.
8. People are everything
It’s not about the technology. It’s not about your process. It’s all about people. The people in your organization who help and enable the sale, and the people your products and services are helping out in the market. Those people, the relationships you have with them, the attentiveness with which you serve them, the way you motivate and empower them – that’s everything. Important to remember that.
9. Change is scary but necessary
Change is not safe, it isn’t always fun, and it can be a bumpy road. Change is risky, and it very well may fail. But you really have no choice. Because if you don’t change, your competitors will and they’ll pass you buy. Change strategically, fire lots of bullets to figure out what change is working, and push through.
10. A significant portion of event ROI will be serendipitous
You can’t always script success. Life is full of serendipitous moments, that you have to be open to and ready to take advantage of. Events like this are no different, and I was excited to capture some great new opportunities, meet new friends, meet a potential prospect in a random elevator conversation, and who knows how many other opportunities that may have already started through the relationships, value and follow-up that started at this conference.
How about you? If you were at Sales 2.0 this week, what were your takeaways?