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January 2014

Get Better Results with Big Data

In a video conversation with Lisa Fiondella, CEO of ReFocus Consulting I learned more about the importance of using Big Data to make better decisions that lead to more sales. 

Take a look at this four minute interview on this hot topic. 

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To get a different perspective on the same subject, I interviewed Kevin Purcell who has recently been tasked to head HP's Vertica Division that delivers Big Data solutions to mid market and enterprise customers. In this 3 1/2 minute interview Kevin shares the astonishing fact that companies analyze only about 10% of their data. Conclusion: your data holds the key to your growth. It's a big mistake not to make Big Data work for you.  

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Can you share a success experience with Big Data? 

You can meet both Big Data experts at the next Sales 2.0 Conference in Philadelphia on March 10 (which I'll be hosting) and benefit from their professional insights.  



Team Goals: My Chat with Pro Football Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott

Cabrera_newToday's blog post is by Christopher Cabrera, CEO of Xactly Corporation.



Recently, I sat down with Pro Football Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott to talk about how properly aligned goals lead to motivated teams and ultimate success.

It was a great conversation and an honor to chat one-on-one with a superstar athlete who helped win multiple Super Bowls and also achieved success in business later in his career. One thing he said that stuck with me was that it’s important to recognize that the game is bigger than you. This is the first step in aligning yourself with the team and the team goals – which is hard.

My new book, Game the Plan: Every Sales Rep’s Dream; Every CFO’s Nightmare, delves deep into the science of motivation: what really makes people tick and inspires performance for the team? After decades in the industry, I’ve seen more than a few managers who unintentionally demotivate their employees, and I’ve discovered quite a few “myth-understandings” about what truly motivates in the workplace.

Myth #1: Having a job should be motivation enough.

Sure, in a world where jobs are extremely scarce (Great Recession anyone?), having a job ismotivation enough. But you can’t really call this feeling motivation; it’s more related to fear and the anxiety that comes from having no other employment options. Buyers beware: if you subscribe to this tactic during lean times, expect a major pushback as soon as the economy improves – and it always does. There was a 37 percent increase in voluntary employee termination from 2009 to 2013. This loss of personnel isn’t just problematic, it’s costly. Losing an employee will cost your organization up to 1.5 times an employee’s annual salary.

Myth #2: Money is the greatest motivator.

According to Mindflash, being fully appreciated for completed work is more important than money for most employees. Sixty-seven percent say praise and recognition from a manager is the most effective motivator. Don’t get me wrong, money matters – a competitive salary is important for retaining rock stars – but when it comes to motivating and engaging employees, pats on the back, plaques, and public recognition go far in making them feel like appreciated members of the team.

Myth #3: Nothing lights fire like fear.

How can you tell if you’ve gone too far? If you think Meryl Streep’s character in The Devil Wears Prada was just misunderstood, you’ve already crossed the line. Fear is a temporary motivator that creates a stressful and unhealthy work environment, not a viable long-term strategy. While being terrified of a boss will “inspire” temporarily, burnout, absenteeism, and health problems are likely to ensue. It’s estimated that $300 billion is spent every year on costs related to workplace stress.

Myth #4: Good motivation theories and practices will work for all employees.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to employee motivation. This is especially important to remember when you consider that engaged employees produce 50 percent more work than disengaged employees. Different tactics inspire people born in different generations. A Gen Yer might need accolades for every completed project, while a Gen Xer may place a high premium on work-life balance. Do your homework and you’ll soon reap the benefits of motivating according to the unique makeup of your workforce.

Myth #5: Sales reps are either naturally motivated or they aren’t.

Everyone is motivated by something; it just takes time to find out what it is. With $350 billion lost in productivity annually because of disengaged employees, companies can’t afford to segment employees into limiting categories. Everyone has the potential to be motivated. Even the rep you catch playing video games during working hours has some motivation behind his or her actions. If you don’t learn what that something is and figure out how to direct it toward work, you could miss out on a highly productive employee.

If you’ve been using any of these tactics to “motivate” your employees, it’s not too late to change your ways. Just remember that motivating isn’t a guessing game, it’s a science. Use the empirical evidence outlined above, and before you know it, your personnel will be performing at peak ability.

Hear more about motivation myths in the Webinar recording “Game the Plan: Review, Strategize, and Win in 2014.”

Sales, Make Marketing Your Number One Draft Pick

JSHRIBER_Headshot.C9_146x175Today's guest post is by Justin Shriber, vice president of products at C9, the Revenue Performance Company.



Recently, I connected with the head of marketing at a global technology firm. He has a great track record for rolling out strategies that drive top-line growth. So I found it ironic when he said, “The toughest part of my job is convincing the sales folks that I’ve got something to offer when it comes to pipeline-management strategy.” 

My friend’s experience is not uncommon. Unfortunately, when the chief sales officer (CSO) and chief marketing officer (CMO) aren’t wearing the same jersey, nobody wins. Here are a few ways I’ve seen sales and marketing come together around lead and pipeline management to overcome the traditional barriers that put these two groups on opposite sides of the field.

Keep One Score, Not Two

While both sales and marketing would agree that the game is about driving revenue, they tend to spend a disproportionate amount of time thinking about opposite ends of the pipeline. By figuratively chopping the pipeline in half, they create a lot of dysfunction as they pursue different objectives and take a siloed approach to getting things done. In contrast, when both sales and marketing adopt a common view of the pipeline end-to-end, alignment between the two groups naturally follows.

I recently met with a company that distributes to sales and marketing teams a common weekly dashboard that reflects end-to-end progression from unqualified lead to closed deal. Once folks got their hands on the report, the dynamic between sales and marketing changed. The report led to new insight into how business could be generated, nurtured, and closed, and once everyone was on the same page, the company was able to quickly make some high-impact changes to capitalize on these new ideas.

Team Up to Eliminate Bottlenecks

All too often, companies are quick to dismiss sound-but-underperforming marketing campaigns and sales programs before they fully understand what’s driving the poor results. Often, however, it makes a lot more sense to identify and eliminate a few bottlenecks than to start from square one. To do this, sales and marketing need to work together to identify and break through plugs in the pipe. That’s what happened recently at a small software start-up when the CMO and CSO sat down to figure out why the pipeline was shrinking despite strong growth in lead generation. They looked at the conversion rates and cycle times for each stage in the pipeline and were able to pinpoint the problem. The solution that resulted involved adjustments to both the lead-qualification process and the selling motion. Thanks to a relatively minor change in its approach, the company got things back on track.

Don’t Bench the Marketing Team

When sales gets a lead from marketing, there’s a natural inclination to say, “We’ll take it from here.” But statistics show that when marketing stays engaged, deal sizes increase and sales-cycle times decrease. Rather than sideline marketing, savvy sales organizations keep the marketing team involved in sales-strategy sessions and determine how marketing can engage additional stakeholders, reinforce key messages, and block competitors. By consistently engaging the prospect on multiple fronts, companies find it easier to land the message and get feedback on what’s going on in the account.

Today, most marketing teams are as laser focused on revenue as the sales organizations. Sales and marketing will find it much easier to achieve their common objective as they develop a shared view of the pipeline, work together to eliminate bottlenecks, and collaborate throughout the entire sales cycle.

Do your CSO and CMO know how to play well together? Share your thoughts in the comments section. 

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Productivity Hacks: Make the Meeting Count

Arne SorensonToday's post is by Arne Sorenson, President and CEO at Marriott International, and was published originally on LinkedIn. It is part of a series in which LinkedIn Influencers share their secrets to being more productive. See all their #productivityhacks here.


We all complain about meetings – too many, too long, too boring. But an effective meeting and presentation can be the most productive way to convince your colleagues and get the job done.

As a CEO, I've seen all kinds of presentations and been in all kinds of meetings. The most effective presenters share a few things in common.

They avoid endless review of the obvious and get to the heart of the matter. By all means, use visuals. Dump the handouts that plow through familiar territory. If you're at the table, we expect you have the data to support your conclusions. Sometimes, you'll need a report, but move as fast as you can to get to the point of your pitch or the specifics of the issue that needs debate and discussion. The meeting will be shorter, more interesting and much more productive.

Speaking of being at a table ... meetings are not about a table and chairs. Envision presentations as a performance. Rethink the space as your stage. Instead of conference room 200B, have everyone meet in the showroom or at the fire pit or on the roof. Use a color palette, use music, use a hands-on demonstration. Executives are people too. They'll get more excited about your idea if they are excited by your presentation.

If you're attending a meeting, stay focused. No multitasking or smartphone checking while your colleagues present. My company has done research on how people work and found that multitasking can create such distraction that a person will lose the equivalent of 10 IQ points when they try to juggle the tasks in front of them. Nobody wants to look dumber in front of the boss.

Of course, it's a given that presenters are prepared and offering a great idea. Just make sure to share it in a way so that no one will miss your Next Big Thing.

What makes your meetings effective and productive? Share your thoughts in the comments section. 

Jay Leno's Secrets of Sales Success

Jay Leno has ranked No. 1 among the broadcast networks in the 11:35 p.m. time slot since 1995. The success of the Tonight Show has helped NBC rake in over $1 billion in profits. As Jimmy Fallon takes over as the new host it is time to review what we can learn from Jay Leno's consistent success. 

First, success in comedy and in sales hinges on your ability to sell yourself. When Jay started out he had to deal with a ton of adversity and a lot of rejection. He once performed in a place in Atlanta where he had to step into a wire-cage that the owner installed to protect the performers from flying beer bottles. Selling yourself takes guts and courage. 

Second, to overcome the objection that he was an unknown performer he challenged club owners with this creative approach: "I'd like to perform on stage." At this point he slapped a $50 bill on the counter saying, "If you don't think I do a good job, you can keep the $50. But if you like my act, I'd like you to hire me." By showing the customer that he was not afraid to put some skin in the game, Jay got more chances to perform.

Third, after Jay got invited to perform on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, he looked like an overnight success. But the second and third time he didn't do as well and he wasn't invited back. Jay went back on the road, tested out new material with new audiences and honed his skills. Successful salespeople use the same strategy: after each setback they prepare themselves for a a comeback. 

To learn the fourth success secret, watch this three minute video. Please share your thoughts on Jay's apoproach. To subscribe to Selling Power magazine in the Cloud visit

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Two Things Top Sales Leaders Do to Hit Their Numbers

LaVon Koener 2Today's post is by LaVon Koerner chief revenue officer of Revenue Storm, which he cofounded in 2000 to offer companies worldwide a suite of comprehensive, proven tools and techniques for profitable revenue growth. Download Revenue Storm’s latest white paper, “Increase Revenue with a Winning Sales Culture.”



Whether it’s the start of a month, quarter, or fiscal year, all sales leaders have the same question: “What can I do now to ensure I hit my numbers?” After three decades of consulting and coaching top sales leaders around the globe, I’ve found that the most successful sales leaders do the following two things to ensure they hit their target:

1. They identify relationship vulnerabilities.
Let’s be honest. Your salespeople are regularly committing relational mistakes in accounts you cannot afford to lose entirely or from which you cannot afford to earn subpar revenue. Here are the three most common and damaging mistakes made in account relationships:

A.    Underinvesting in the right people
There are certain people who can make a difference in how decisions are made; not everyone with the same title has the same clout. While it is often hard to detect and build relationships with these individuals, they are some of the most important and powerful people in the account. You can’t afford not to have them on your side.

B.    Overinvesting in the wrong people
These people may be wonderful human beings who love your salesperson, offerings, and company. But so what? If they have no decision-making authority, budget, or influence, they can’t help you. Don’t bet your future in an account on the wrong people.

C.    Missing certain key people altogether
These people may or may not be employees in the account; they may be consultants or advisors. Regardless, if they have the authority to say yes or no to your proposals, you must have them on your radar screen. Could your competitors know key people your salespeople don’t?

While you can’t eliminate these mistakes entirely, successful sales leaders make certain these mistakes are not occurring in their must-protect accounts. Start performing regular relationship audits to uncover any relational vulnerability that could put your revenue in harm’s way. Don’t start another day in the dark in this vital area!

2. They identify competitively vulnerable pursuits.
Can you honestly look at your pipeline and feel good about your year ahead? As you scroll down through the list of opportunity names, do you know which ones you’re at risk of losing? Are you able to identify which opportunities are real and which are just your salesperson’s wishful thinking? From a coaching perspective, do you know where your involvement could make a difference and where it would be a total waste of time?

As you look intently into your future revenue, these are the questions you must be able to answer in time to take corrective action. These answers won’t come easily from your salespeople, who probably don’t want to discuss negative possibilities; however, as a sales leader, you need to realize that it’s best to get bad news as soon as possible. You want the bad news about your revenue when you can still do something about it. You need to know – really know – the good, the bad, and the ugly, and you need to know it now!

Start scrubbing your pipeline by answering the questions I’ve outlined in this post. You should be able to get the answers you need and want without guessing about your revenue potential or probability of winning.

At the end of the year, don’t look back and find that the reason for your revenue short-fall was in either of these two areas over which you can have control:

  • a loss of must-protect strategic accounts, due to relationship vulnerabilities;
  • a loss of must-win pursuits, due to competitive vulnerabilities.

See how Revenue Storm clients use science-based tools to address these two areas in this 3-minute video.

Download Revenue Storm’s latest white paper, “Increase Revenue with a Winning Sales Culture” to learn how a science-based approach to coaching creates a framework for positivity, greater collaboration, and increased revenue.  

Avoiding the Sales Management Time Trap

Behar 146 (2)Today's post is by Norman Behar, Managing Partner, Sales Readiness Group, Inc., a leading professional sales training company that develops customized sales and sales management programs for business-to-business sales organizations.



If there is one consistent complaint we hear from frontline sale managers, it is that they are always short on time. This isn't surprising given the numerous responsibilities sales managers have, including recruiting and hiring new sales professionals, day-to-day management tasks, sales coaching, and administrative duties. Additionally, they face the challenge of managing sales professionals who are typically independent, strong willed, and often have little day-to-day contact with their managers. And in many organizations, sales managers are required to both sell and manage.

Compounding this problem is the reality that most sales managers learn how to manage through on-the-job experience. More often than not, sales managers are former sales professionals who get promoted into management with little or no formal sales management training. They are sometimes better at selling than managing, and that is the root cause of a problem that we refer to as the sales management time trap.

Selling vs. Managing

Salespeople are by definition individual contributors to their team's overall success; they only need to focus on their own behaviors: "If I work harder or smarter, I will sell more." Unfortunately, the skills and mindset that made someone successful as a salesperson, don't guarantee success when he or she gets promoted into management. The sales manager's primary job function is to get his or her entire sales team to work harder or smarter and this requires a specific set of sales management skills.

The sales management time trap is what happens to sales managers who use the wrong set of skills to manage their sales teams. In many cases, these managers were previously successful sales people, and they now have a hard time understanding why struggling members of their team "don't get it." Out of frustration, these managers attempt to solve performance issues by either micro-managing or actually taking over specific selling tasks from their sales people (i.e., "it will be easier if I just do it myself"). The problem with such an approach is that it is highly inefficient as the work flows the wrong way – from the salesperson's desk to the manager's, instead of the other way around. As a result, the sales manager soon feels trapped by an overwhelming number of responsibilities. Moreover, the sales people are not learning how to solve their own problems and so the sales manager is continually jumping from crisis to crisis putting out fires.

Avoiding the Time Trap

Sales managers can stay out of the sales management time trap by using the full complement of sales management skills to manage, including setting expectations, coaching, training, delegating, counseling, incentivizing etc. While some of these actions, such as sales coaching and training, require a significant time commitment in the short-run, the long-term payoff is well worth the investment.

The following checklist illustrates how you can efficiently solve performance issues on your team and avoid the sales management time trap:

  1. Does the salesperson know expectations? It is surprising how many performance problems are a result of the salesperson not knowing what specific behaviors and results are expected of them.
  2. Are the expectations being met? If the salesperson is meeting expectations, you should provide positive reinforcement and then delegate as much responsibility as possible. This is how you most efficiently leverage your time and effort and produce exceptional sales results.
  3. Does the salesperson know how to meet expectations? Sales managers should use training or coaching to resolve skills or knowledge gaps. As a best practice, we recommend that a frontline sales manager spend 25%-40% of their time coaching and developing their team.
  4. Does the salesperson make proper effort? Sometimes the performance problem not caused by a skill or knowledge gap but rather by the salesperson's poor attitude or low motivation. Here the appropriate management action is to counsel the salesperson and address the attitude or motivational problem.
  5. Does salesperson receive appropriate rewards and consequences? Sales managers can be enablers of poor performance through poorly structured compensation plans that incentivize the wrong behaviors or by not taking strict (but fair) approach to performance improvement plans.
  6. Do obstacles block performance? It may be the case that the salesperson does not have the resources to be successful, or that some obstacle is making achieving sales goals unrealistic. In these cases you need to provide more resources, remove the obstacles or reassess your expectations and goals.

Get ready for the Real Time Economy

In this five minute video, Seth Godin shares the latest busines trend. On one hand, the time gap between need and satisfaction is shrinking, on the other hand the market has become more tribal. The consequences of this trend are: 

1. To become the top choice in the real time market, we need years of preparation 

2. To capture the real time expectations of our customers we need real time technology tools (real time analytics) 

3. To insure relevancy in real time we need to subscribe to the right connections. 


How to Win in 2014

Seth Godin on how to win in 2014 

"You have everything you need to build something bigger than yourself," is one of my favorite Seth Godin quotes. A short conversation with him will leave you thinking for days afterwards. Seth thinks deeper and his ideas grow in an unusual soil. His mind operates on Olympic levels of curiosity.  It’s no wonder that over 1 million people read his blog. He has authored 17 books and many of them have made it to the top of the New York Times bestseller list. If you don't know Seth, it's not to late to join him online, join his ( and enjoy his kaleidoscopic perspective. Here is just one fragment from a blog post Oct. 29, 2012 “Who you hang out with determines what you dream about and what you collide with. And the collisions and the dreams lead to your changes.”  

Seth and I agreed to meet for lunch in New York City. As I approached the restaurant, I noticed him standing outside, wearing a stylish suit and tie, a blue bike helmet dangling from his left hand while he looked at his cell phone. Seth is always in pursuit of quality, efficiency while enjoying life. "I am searching for a better place to eat," he explained. He took the train from his office in Hastings on the Hudson to New York City and pedaled over on a city bike. We decided to walk in the direction of our studio and after a few steps we found an oyster bar. We ordered a plate of 8 delicious oysters to share, which inspired Seth to share this thought: "Four is just enough. It's interesting that in our culture we tend to think that more is better. It isn't. Four oysters are delicious and six are OK, but the more you eat the more the initial pleasure wears off. Research shows that more health care for seniors doesn’t make them healthier, and a greater reduction of teacher-to-student ratios in schools doesn’t lead to better grades. If the class size gets too small, grades go down again." Seth’s point, that more is not better, runs against the “supersize-it” neurotic, greed-is-good culture that characterizes the superficial mindset of America’s underbelly.

Seth’s antenna is always tuned into to the emerging Zeitgeist of our times. In this six-minute video interview he explains the major shifts in business and how we should approach 2014. His well articulated insight – if applied –is enough to optimize your success in 2014. 

This is republished from Selling Power Magazine in the Cloud, January 2014 edition. To see the entire issue visit and click on "Get One Time Access" 


The Sales Airhead Award Goes To ...

Today I received an email from a sales rep of a marketing software company (the sender shall be nameless) that started out with: Hi Gerhard... Without introduction or statement of purpose, the rep launched into a 13 bullet point sales pitch. There was no call to action, the email ended with a link to a video. Here comes the Airhead part. The video was actually an interview I did last year with his VP of Sales.

I don't think that the company has a poor product, but this example illustrates that we can't automate content creation in sales or marketing. To assume that a customer's thought process can be governed by automated, impersonal and feature-packed emails is self defeating. I also don't want to single out the company since I believe the real culprit is the mindset of the technology industry. 

It's time for technology companies to change their sales and marketing mindset. There are two basic mindsets. One is rigid and templetized. Salespeople employed by these companies are like plough-horses that follow a straight line day after day. Then there are salespeople with a growth mindset. They are always challenging themselves and they constantly try out new ideas. These salespeople will challenge their clients to change and push the envelope. They are not afraid of creating the tension customers need to invest in a cutting edge solutions. These salespeople are the racehorses that win consistently. If you want to dig deeper, check out his terrific book Mindset - the New Psychology of Success. 


Within minutes of publishing the above post, I received a sales letter from their competition saying: 

"If you are looking for a quick way to get up and running with xxxx we put together a sweet bundle for This Week ONLY! It’s packed with a ton of stuff that will help you get started ASAP…AND it has a sweet price tag too."

This is ONLY available this week. 

If you’re interested please click here. (Link omitted) 
Warmest Regards
(The link in this email leads to a page with this simple message: "Thank You, I will contact you ASAP") 
Five minutes after clicking on this link I received a voicemail from the sales rep talking at a fast clip: "Hi my name is Xx, I am calling from xxx and it looks like you recently showed some interest in this weeks offer we have for small businesses and I wanted to reach out and talk about these things. Please give me a call at xxx "
What's wrong with these sales and marketing organizations? They claim to sell solutions but they are really automating their lowest levels of sales intelligence which prevents their prospects from dealing with them. Why can't marketing automation companies hire, train and coach sales professionals? 
Note: If you think you can top the Airhead letter below, please send it to me. Perhaps it is time to nominate companies for a Sales Airhead of the year award. 


Dear Gerhard, 

I wish we had some time on the phone today.  Information is provided below.  When you’re ready to explore further there’s a link to view and book my calendar at the bottom of this message.

xxx-xx brings all your online marketing channels together onto a single platform and automates a lot of your lead generation.  We built xxx-xx for small to medium sized marketing teams so it only take 4-5 hours to implement, no IT involvement, is VERY easy to use and highly cost effective.  You will see a major increase in lead generation and revenue very quickly as most of our customers do.  Here is what we offer:

  • Email marketing
  • Web forms – we can track web form abandonment as well to give you more leads
  • Landing pages – SEO and Social media integration
  • Website Visitor Tracking – We can tell you the names of people and Companies on your website every day in real time, converting most web traffic into leads!
  • Drip Campaigns to nurture your prospects and customers
  • Lead Scoring to generate the most qualified leads for sales
  • Dynamic List Segmentation
  • Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn integration
  • Webinar integration
  • CRM integration (, SugarCRM, MSFT Dynamics and others)
  • (Jigsaw) integration
  • Dynamic Content
  • Excellent Reporting

I included a short video about xxx-xx from our C.R.O. xxxxxx.