With the rapid increase in the use of mobile/online resources to inform, smooth and drive the sales process for consumer goods through decision making at the corporate level, the world of ‘selling is changing rapidly. As leaders in ‘digitalization’ and transformation of company’s business models and commercial approaches to drive sustainable value for our clients, Next Step’s team participates and provides thought leadership in a wide variety of conferences.

The recent Sales 3.0 conference confirmed our experience that salespeople today must deliver unique value through anticipating and understanding customer needs then delivering real solutions, not product information.

This was based on the various discussions during the conference including:

Gerhard Gschwandtner opened the conference by painting a picture of high-performance organizations enabled by Sales 3.0 thinking and technologies. Gerhard is Founder and CEO of Selling Power, Inc., a multi-channel media company, and also the host of the Sales 2.0 Conference series; check out his websites, blogs and conferences.

A central tenet? It’s time to adopt enabling technologies like cognitive computing and AI. The CEOs of Amazon, Oracle, IBM (below), Microsoft, Salesforce and SAP are all focused on the importance of these technologies. They see them as extending beyond just big data, to include behavioural analysis, pattern recognition and predictive capabilities DxContinuum’s Jim Frazee echoed the theme. Jim’s presentation provided a nuts-and-bolts view of using predictive analytics to improve forecasting, optimize marketing spend based on conversions, and increase win rates.

Integrated programs and tools – and an evolution in roles

A future building on cognitive computing is all well and good – but how do we more effectively nurture and close leads?

Conversica offered well-grounded insights into this problem plus some solutions. They shared their Sales Effectiveness Report on Lead Follow-up (fill out the form to download) – a data-rich survey that highlighted how much more work most of us have in front of us so that we’re not squandering our lead gen efforts. Their tools provide a missing link between marketing automation and sales automation, with AI-based personalization of messaging and tuning to stage of the sales cycle and demonstrated interest – with genuine and timely follow-up. Worth checking out.

With new technology and tools come new opportunities to evolve how we approach selling. Anneke Seley and Britton Manasco previewed their new book ‘Next Era Selling’. One of their insights summarizes the evolution in how inside sales and outside sales can best work together going forward:

Winning mindset – plus a focus on challenger/provocation-based selling

Sales 3.0 is also about people and enabling high performance – not just new tools. Gerhard spoke to the need to develop peak performers, based in part on no-limit thinking and greater mindfulness, with examples like Branson:

Dan Waldschmidt did an inspiring job reminding us how we can remove impediments to peak performance, with a presentation that included examples from thousands of years of world history.

And Anthony Iannarino brought us back to how we need to identify and create the need – classic Brent Adamson challenger-selling or Geoffrey Moore provocation-based selling. His summary of the new buying cycle:

Doing training right

While not as sexy a topic, we had a lot of insights into training, with three examples we’d highlight:

  • Dennis Michalis, Oracle’s Group VP of Customer Experience, focused on how he was building a high-performance culture, from start to finish. He emphasized the need to rehearse what you learn and showed how he baked this into product rollouts and sales campaigns.
  • Chris Beall, of Connect and Sell, zeroed in on coaching sequence – both what and who.
  • Steve Osborne, of TopGun Sales Performance, reminded us that the key is to certify reps based on real skills absorption.

Plan and act

The biggest takeaway? To get to the top and stay there, you need to stay fresh. Take some time to see how other high-performance people and organizations are doing things, integrate new ideas into your plans, and execute.