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December 2009

Dreamforce 2009 - A Video Report

Gerhard Blog

Someone once said that when 200 people watch a movie, you won’t find two among those people who experienced the movie in the same way. Why? Because every viewer sees each scene from his or her own unique platform built by past experiences. When 18,000 people attend a megashow like Dreamforce, there is even less of a chance of finding two people who see the event the exact same way – with the exception of the many journalists who reprinted's press releases verbatim and then added their own signature.

I have seen Dreamforce grow from 300 people to 18,000 in Benioff3 fewer than 10 years. In a nutshell, Dreamforce had four parts that can be compared to the elements recorded by Greek philosophers: fire, earth, air, and water.

The fire was Marc Benioff. When he enters the stage you know in a heartbeat that you are in the presence of a human volcano. This year the volcano ran a race against the audience’s bladder capacity. (The keynote ran an hour over schedule.)

The earth was's partners, who add great value to’s solutions.

The air came from "releases" such as Chatter, a social networking tool that hasn't been launched yet.

The water was the refreshing interaction between people sharing streams of ideas and creating a shower of fun through unscripted conversations and performances, as you shall see in the short iPhone video clips. (Click on each image)

A standing room only crowd is taking in a dazzling, multimedia show that rivals a Vegas act.

Gavin Newsom, major of San Francisco, joins Marc Benioff on stage to welcome the audience.

I always like to sit in the front row at meetings, next to 's presidents Frank van Veenendaal and Jim Steele. It was fascinating to watch Benioff and Newsom promote their tested formula for combating homelessness. Unfortunately their unscripted conversation went on too long. Benioff's keynote ended a full hour past the two hours scheduled.

There were 18,000 people in the audience when founder Marc Benioff kicked off Dreamforce with "the most exciting announcement ever."

Marc Benioff introduces the Service Cloud 2, which integrates social media tools into one multi-tenant system.

A quick interview with senior vice president Brett Queener about Chatter, the newly released social networking tool that's built into the application and allows salespeople to communicate and share business content across the organization.

Professional ushers directed the audience to the meeting hall where Colin Powell delivered the keynote. This usher had no clue who the keynote speaker was.

Here is Kadient's marketing manager Amy Black singing the Kadient theme song.

Hoovers attracted Dreamforce attendees with a talking robot named Hoovie - another showstopper.

Jigsaw hired a talented street performer to draw attention to the common challenge of dirty data.


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How Will Sales Training Change in 2010?

“The selling skills needed by the frontline salesperson to win in today’s market have to change dramatically,” said Ken Powell, VP of sales learning and performance at ADP. ADP, a $9 billion provider of business outsourcing solutions, knows how to run a highly successful and profitable operation. Last week, the financial Website Seeking Alpha ranked ADP among the top five S&P stocks by yield, reporting a whopping $1.62 billion in cash with only $42.2 million in debt.

On Wednesday, December 9t at noon CST, Ken and I will talk about how to create a successful salestraining and salesenablement process during a one-hour Webinar.

Ken predicts that the recovering economy will require a significant adjustment in determining what to train on and how to train salespeople. He also predicts that sales organizations will risk losing their top sales producers to more progressive companies that have successfully transitioned and adapted to the new realities.

The mind of the customer

ADP has recently restructured its salestraining approach based on a number of insights from thought leaders in the field. Among them are the philosophies and concepts published in the book The Mind of the Customer: How the World’s Leading Sales Forces Accelerate Their Customers’ Success (McGraw-Hill, 2006). The book and the companion Website offer concise tools that range from a comprehensive skills analysis to the development of a clear strategy for creating results for the customer.

Says Ken, “In today’s market, 75 percent of sales success depends on how you sell and 25 percent on what you sell.”

The mind of the “millenials”

Smart sales organizations such as ADP are preparing for the emerging psychological conflict created by the integration of the “millenials”- those who were born between 1975 and 1995. Powell referred to a 60 Minutes broadcast describing the millenials as the generation that is more tech savvy. They multitask, shifting quickly from typing on their notebook computers to texting, all while listening to music and playing an online game in the background. Their priorities are clear: They come first.

Millenials are online learners; they hate lectures, prefer peer learning, and have a completely different set of motivations compared to the previous generation. Millenials resist traditional sales training but respond well to effective coaching delivered by managers who understand the basics of “adult day care.”

Why traditional sales training is dead

Ken says that salespeople don’t want to sit in a classroom listening to a sales manager or a sales trainer lecturing salespeople on hypothetical sales situations that may never happen in the salesperson’s lifetime. The old approach of, “Here is how I made a lot of sales (ten years ago); do as I do and you will be successful too,” is going to drive salespeople to check their BlackBerrys or iPhones. What’s the best way to teach? Ken explains that to unleash salespeople’s potential we must begin with an objective assessment of their skills and compare the results to the skills of the topperforming salespeople. The resulting gap is the foundation for a prescriptive learning program at ADP. Following the gap analysis, salespeople are invited to learn online, earn credits, enroll in peer- learning programs, and get expert coaching from frontline managers who are, in turn, well trained coaching mentors.

How sales enablement creates a dynamic learning environment

To move ADP’s learning process from a “delay-based” system that required timeconsuming searching to a real-time online learning universe, the company reached out to SAVO, a leading SaaSbased, salesenablement service with which salespeople can collaborate, share best practices, access learning programs 24/7, and connect with subject matter experts. Tune in on Wednesday, December 9 at noon CST and feel free to ask questions. Ken is a salestraining and salesenablement thought leader worth following.

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Three Ways to Get Better Results on Every Sales Call

When I ask VPs of sales why their salespeople spend less time with their customers year after year, they usually shrug their shoulders. Some say it’s data overload; others say that salespeople spend too much time preparing for calls, searching for information, etc. They also mention the usual distractions, such as too many emails, too much time spent in meetings, too many reports to write and read, learning about new products, learning new technology, conference calls that should not have been scheduled, and more.

Another big time sink comes from the company’s organizational structure. Economic pressures create cracks in the corporate organization chart, and the fixes lead to new strategies that won’t make sense to the field sales force unless they are over-communicated in a series of meetings that keeps the sales organization focused on itself instead of on the customer.

As salespeople get busier, they have less and less time to think about their customers, engage their customers, and visit their customers face-to-face. The result: Selling becomes more difficult.

Customers, on the other hand, live in their own universe that’s also governed by the forces of the economy. They are busier with their own problems and have less time to think clearly and strategically about the solutions to those problems. With less time to think and speak to salespeople, customers are locked into the same time/attention span crunch as salespeople. The result: Buying has become more difficult.

The theory of bounded rationality may help us define this widespread problem. A Nobel Prize winning economist named Herbert A. Simon once described our limits of defining and solving complex problems. Simon suggested that our rationality is limited by A) the information we have, B) the cognitive limitations of our minds, and C) the finite amount of time we have to make a decision. To squeeze more productivity out of sales calls, we need to take a closer look at these three areas.

Salespeople need to manage all three dimensions of rationality

1. The information landscape: Salespeople need to find out how much the buyer knows and how much information the buyer wants to receive. What information sources has the buyer already tapped into? How much does he or she know about our product or service? How much does he or she want to know before making a decision?

The keys to winning: the ability to ask great questions and the availability of effective sales- enablement tools.

2. The cognitive landscape: Salespeople need to find out how their buyers think and feel during the call. How accurately do prospects present their situation? How objectively do they describe their challenges? How realistic are they about achieving their goals? How will they measure results? What are the buyer’s biggest pains and fears? What are the hidden agendas?

The keys to winning: the ability to accurately assess the customer’s BRAIN (an acronym that stands for behavior, responsiveness, alertness, intelligence, negotiating power).

3. The available time: Salespeople need to assess how much time the buyer is able to invest in each meeting and determine early in the meeting what topics the buyer is willing to discuss.

The keys to winning: the ability to set a reasonable agenda in advance of the meeting, structure the conversation as it happens and keep it moving, focus on the WIN (what’s important now), and stretch the available time by engaging the prospect on a deeper emotional level.

Do you cope instinctively, or manage rationally?

While managing the information landscape and the buyer’s cognitive landscape is challenging, the most difficult job is to manage the short time windows buyers make available to them. Most salespeople have short attention spans and little awareness of how much time it takes to persuade a prospect and close a sale. Calls without a preplanned agenda tend to quickly drift away from what should be discussed to move the sale forward.

Salespeople need to learn how to take a half step back from the conversation; they need to shift their preoccupation with closing a deal to opening their eyes to opportunities to advance the agenda and get more done in less time. How? Find better ways to engage the prospect on a deeper emotional level, which will enhance collaboration.

To manage a sales call rationally and productively, the salesperson has only three choices. One is to deliver better information to the prospect, hoping that a better message will lead to the sale. Two is to help the customer understand the available information better. The third choice is to create a larger time window so that both buyer and seller have a better chance of arriving at a solution and co-creating the sale.

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