Innovation Feed

The Best Advice I Learned from Top Sales 2.0 Conference Speakers

Joanne BlackToday's guest post is by Joanne Black, America’s leading authority on referral selling and author of NO MORE COLD CALLING™ and Pick Up the Damn Phone!: How People, Not Technology, Seal the Deal. Connect with her at or call her at 415.461.8763


This month I talked to a number of speakers who will deliver presentations at the Sales 2.0 Conference on April 27 and 28 in San Francisco. What did I learn? Here are the five takeaways you need to know if want to create a successful sales future for yourself.

Takeaway #1 from Tiffani Bova“Current sales metrics don’t match the buyer’s journey.” 

Ever watch a bouncing ball? It goes from one side to another, up and down, and all around. It's tough to follow. That's the digital buyer. These prospects come into the sales process at different stages and go bouncing around, collecting new information and shifting their focus back and forth.

Yet, salespeople are still measured on legacy metrics, as if customers start with zero knowledge of us. Reps are measured on calls made, social touches generated, and emails sent. “But legacy metrics don't work anymore,” says Tiffani Bova, “because the digital buyer is no longer linear.”

Tiffani will discuss other dangers sales organizations face in her presentation, “Who's in Control of the Sales Process? The Customer!”

Takeaway #2 from Matt Heinz: “Sales operations should be a marketing function, not sales.” 

When Matt Heinz offered this advice, I thought it was another case of marketing trying to take over sales –- until he pointed out that sales teams boost productivity by better utilizing marketing resources. He explained, “Sales operations has evolved into sales enablement –- which should be handled by a group that can systematize and scale the repeatable tasks that are essential to sales.”

Then salespeople can focus on what they do best: Building one-to-one relationships.

Matt will suggest other time-savers in “How Sales Operations Can Double Your Sales Team's Productivity.”

Takeaway #3 from Patricia Fripp: “No matter how experienced you are, you can’t ‘wing’ a sales presentation.” 

Prospects don't care about you. They don’t want to hear how great your product is or how long you’ve been in business. They're only interested in what you can do for them. Those answers require research and practice.

Patricia Fripp says salespeople should spend at least 30 minutes rehearsing and personalizing every client presentation. “People get cocky,” she told me. “They’ve been selling for years, so they think they can wing it. No way. When all things are equal, your presentation determines whether you win or lose.”

Don’t miss her breakout session, “Superstar Sales Presentations: The Inside Secrets.”

Takeaway #4 from Michael Nick and Drew Wright"When prospects won’t decide, walk away.” 

You've already "spent" your commission. Now the customer says he's not moving forward, with you or anyone else. Losing to “no decision” is even more embarrassing than losing to a competitor. You’ve committed to a forecast, and now you have to backpedal with your sales manager.

Michael Nick and Drew Wright will demonstrate the cost of waiting in their breakout session, “Overcoming No Decision.”

Their caution: If you’re hemorrhaging dollars, get out early. If you expect a delay, make a go/no-go decision.

Takeaway #5 from Jamie Shanks, Kurt Shaver, and Anneke Seley: “The most important component of social selling is marketing.” ­ 

I had serious doubts about this advice from Jamie Shanks. Then he explained how a marketing-driven social media outreach helped him create a referral network of advocates and influencers.

As Jamie said, “LinkedIn is a tool that enables social selling. It’s not social selling. It’s the medium.” Jamie will share his secrets on the “Generating Revenue Using Social Selling” panel, alongside Kurt Shaver and Anneke Seley.

Kurt agrees that marketing should drive social selling. Everyone has to publish content now, including sales. But instead of creating new content, he says salespeople should focus on sharing content from marketing. “Marketing is staffed, trained, and authorized to create content on the company’s behalf.”

Anneke points out that because social selling is new territory, many sales leaders don’t see its value. Without the right motivation and compensation package, reps won’t follow the plan. “Managers will just be adding one more thing to their day,” she explains. “All the training in the world won’t make a difference until their peers start getting results.”

Anneke says to stay for their panel. Cocktails follow.

Thought leaders aren’t supposed to rehash the same old ideas. They’re supposed to add something new to the conversation. I learned tons from these thought leaders, and I look forward to learning more at the Sales 2.0 Conference on April 27-28 in San Francisco. As a guest blogger, I’ll share more words of wisdom throughout the event. Hope to see you there!



The Four Most Powerful Forces in Sales

Jeff Seeley




Today's post is by Jeff Seeley, CEO of Carew International, Inc. Check out this Carew International white paper, “Success in the Challenger Sales Role.”  

“When it comes to sales, the more things change, the more they stay the same.”

“The sales profession is completely different from how it was five years ago.”

Which of these statements rings true to you? Your answer will depend on your personal perspective and your definition of sales. Both statements are accurate but in very different contexts. When it comes to the sales process and delivery methods, the pace and/or methods of communication, and customer expectations, everything has changed. In contrast, the fundamental role of the successful sales professional (collaborator, consultant, and valued resource for problem solving and revenue and profit growth) and the need for fundamental selling skills (diagnostic skills, interpersonal skills, relationship building and presenting solutions) have not changed. Outstanding sales professionals have always been outstanding business advisors for their customers.

It’s like the critical role of gravity in our physical world: gravity is the strongest natural force on Earth. The way we use it and interact with it (even defy it) has changed tremendously in recent decades, but the fundamental power and force of gravity has not changed at all, nor has our dependence on it for survival.

What gravity is to life on Earth, communication and relationship-building skills are to the sales function. Their application has changed, but their importance has not. George Bernard Shaw once said, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” I add that the second biggest problem is the self-delusion that we have deeper relationships with our customers than we actually have.

How did we lose sight of the most powerful force in sales? There are two factors: First, at some point, business leaders and the business community started mistaking go-to-market strategies as sales strategies, functions, and skills -- and these are distinct and different entities. Go-to-market strategies are required for long-term success, but they must be integrated into a compatible sales strategy, and typically, the sales team will need a new skill set to implement a new strategy.

Second is “shiny-object syndrome.” Sales leaders looking for the next new thing relative to the sales process become enamored with various “shiny objects,” but they don’t consider their sales team’s current skill set and the team’s ability to carry out the new process. The result is beleaguered sales professionals and frustrated leadership.

The most powerful forces in sales include:

1) delivering insight,

2) challenging the customer’s norms,

3) offering more strategic business advice, and

4) influencing business outcomes.

This is where sales professionals and leadership need to be heading quickly. Suited up in a new sales process without the right skills, sales professionals are like the new human flyers using wingsuits to defy gravity, racing through the atmosphere. When they try to use the parachute to float gently to the earth, “there is no ‘chute.”


Check out this Carew International white paper, “Success in the Challenger Sales Role.”   

Seize Today's Selling Opportunities: My Interview with @DMScott

At the Sales 2.0 Conference in San Francisco in May I had the opportunity to interview David Meerman Scott, author of Real-Time Marketing & PR. Here are some highlights from our conversation.

  • Many salespeople are so busy selling that they don't have time to actually be helpful.

  • Newsjacking is the art and science of injecting your ideas into a breaking news story. As a story breaks (the story could be about anything, like a regulation change in your industry) people are scrambling to figure out what it means. If you are an expert, you can create a blog post, a video, a tweet to provide value instantly. This is like a wave that builds that you can surf to address a wide audience. As David said, maybe you'll get quoted in the press and maybe a customer will reach out to you.

  • The tools are the easy part -- we have all we need on our mobile phones to participate in the real time economy. But so many salespeople are in campaign mode, just pitching and planning ahead of time to do a particular campaign in future months. The problem with this is that you need to be able to react instantaneously to news that's happening right now.

  • When you're doing real time, you're focused on buyers and their needs rather than focusing on how you happen to sell. That is a major and important shift in perspective for many sellers and marketers.  

  • Today, sales teams need to be able to respond to opportunities from all directions. Conversations drive commerce today.

I really enjoyed my discussion with David, and I thank him for giving a terrific presentation at the Sales 2.0 Conference. We got a very enthusiastic response from the hundreds of B2B sales leaders in attendance. Check out the books he's written here on his website.

Google Glass for the B2B Sales Professional: Is This Happening?

Recently I interviewed Anthony Iannarino about his initial impressions of his Google glasses. Watch this video and hear how he's using them to take photos by blinking and sync to Evernote via voice command. Also hear the one reason I haven't yet purchased a pair for myself (hint: it is not the price tag). 

Do you agree that we're going to connect deeper with our computers and integrate them more into our lives by wearing them? What will the impact be on the sales profession? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

Winning Isn’t about Your Product or Sales Talent

KevinUpdatedPhoto_75x100Today’s post is by Kevin Purcell, WW HP Vertica Big Data Sales (Alliances & Channel) at Hewlett-Packard. Hear him speak during his panel discussion, “Using Real-Time Data to Innovate and Drive Revenue Growth,” at the Sales 2.0 Conference in Philadelphia on March 10.


A lot of companies think they succeed because they have the best product or because their sales team is the most talented. While a great product and great sales team never hurt, the reality is that, today, profitable businesses are successful because they’re capturing and analyzing lots and lots of data and using that analysis to develop strategies for competitive differentiation and long-term growth.

Since moving into my new leadership role at HP Vertica, I’ve had a front-row seat to see how big data and analytics are transforming the world. Consider how some of our customers are using our product to solve their biggest business challenges.

Vodafone. Churn is a huge problem in the telecom industry. Big-data analytics helps create and optimize marketing campaigns, build better brand awareness, and uncover potentially damaging issues (such as customer confusion about pricing). The more information wireless carriers can glean about customers, the better they’re able to prevent customers from jumping ship to other providers.

Cerner Corporation. The data generated by healthcare companies is massive. A product like Vertica can be used to gain insight into patient behavior, develop new drugs, discover how existing drugs impact the diseases they treat, improve diagnoses, and much more.

GUESS Inc. Retail companies need to be ruthless about supply-chain costs. For example, it’s highly inefficient to have jeans just sitting in a warehouse; not only are these companies failing to move product, they’re also paying for that shelf space (not to mention the cost to ship the product there). By analyzing data, GUESS Inc. could determine which products were most popular in various regions. Now, instead of paying for shelf space to house products that aren’t selling, the company has reduced time-to-inventory and improved overall efficiency.

Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Government agencies rely on big data just as much as businesses do. I can’t give much away about how the CIA uses Vertica, but it’s become a big tool in the counterterrorism effort.

Gaming companies. The gaming industry has proven to be one of our hottest verticals, because so much data is generated by gamers. Believe it or not, every game decision can be tracked and analyzed by gaming companies and used to craft better, more engaging experiences for users.

Companies generate a tremendous amount of data about customers, but most companies aren’t using it. In fact, as I pointed out in my recent interview with Selling Power founder and CEO Gerhard Gschwandtner, we’re using only about 10 percent of the data available to us.

In addition, although most of the companies my sales team and channel partners talk to are storing data, I estimate that only half of those are combining that with analytics. That means they’re leaving huge opportunities on the table. If winning today isn’t about product, price, or sales talent, then what’s left? Knowledge about what will help your customers create value and how they want to buy.

Many companies are hungry to mine intelligence about their customer base and start doing business better and faster than their competitors. When Vertica was first released, we had a backlog of demand among existing Hewlett-Packard partners to onboard the product. And in December, Facebook adopted our platform as one component of its big data infrastructure. To quote Facebook’s chief information officer, Tim Campos, who spoke at our user conference in Barcelona, data “provides the opportunity to create new product enhancements, business insights, and a significant competitive advantage by leveraging the assets companies already have.”

I invite you to join me at the Sales 2.0 Conference on March 10, where I’ll talk with fellow panelist Lisa Fiondella, CEO of ReFocus Consulting, about how data and analytics can be used to drive productivity, increase efficiency, and differentiate.

Want to learn more about Vertica? Download the free community version.


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

JAY SCREEN Shot 2014-01-26 at 6.20.37 PM

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" 


Four Ways Your Digital Devices Can Help You Do More Business

Mike-Pugh-Headshot-120Today’s post is by Mike Pugh, vice president of marketing at j2 Global Inc.




You’re probably often on the lookout for new tools and technology to help you drive more business. As a marketing executive with a company that provides cloud-based communication tools to millions of customers, I regularly receive feedback from professionals about what actually adds value for them. I’m amazed at how often the tools and techniques that make the biggest difference are easy to implement, inexpensive, or even free.

This principle holds true for sales, as well: you can realize big gains in your business with very small technological changes. In fact, by adding just a few simple mobile apps and making a couple of minor adjustments in your digital routine, you can improve every stage of your sales process – and close more deals.

1.      Improve the Meet: Business Card Reader App

You’ve just met a potentially valuable prospect, who hands you a business card. This person’s name is hard to pronounce and remember, so you’ll hang on to the card. Do you have a foolproof process for getting the card’s details into your contact-management system?

Here’s where a digital card reader can make all the difference. For a few dollars, you can install a brilliant app on your smartphone, snap a picture of any business card, and the details will automatically populate in your phone’s contact list.

Rather than wait until you’re at your computer to manually enter your prospect’s details, you can do it with one click, from anywhere. In fact, as soon as your prospect walks away, you can click his or her contact information into your phone and send a thank-you message.

There are several card-reader apps available, but I recommend Business Card Reader Pro.

2.      Improve Your Online Profile: Use a Professional Head Shot

After you’ve begun conversing with your new prospect, you’ll probably use several digital methods to communicate – email, certainly, but also perhaps Skype, LinkedIn, text messaging, and any number of social-media tools. Do you know how you appear visually on all of these digital platforms?

You might not realize it, but if you’re sending a prospect an informal email using your Gmail account, Google Chat, or Google+, your photo might appear as part of your message. Is it a professional image or a photo of you in a t-shirt holding your cat? Invest in a professional head shot, one that is consistent with the image you want to convey to prospects, customers, and colleagues, and add this picture to every digital platform you use. You’ll be investing in your own personal brand.

3.     Improve Your Responsiveness When It Counts: Voicemail to Text

Now assume you’re well down the sales path with your prospect. You’re at a convention, engaged in another potentially important chat with a prospect, when your phone buzzes. You glance down. The caller is The Prospect Whose Name Is Hard to Pronounce. You don’t want to interrupt your face-to-face conversation to answer, but how long should you wait to listen to the voicemail? What if it’s important? What if this is the call?

A virtual phone solution from eVoice® transcribes your voicemail in real time and sends you the message as text. Glance down at your phone once more and see that the prospect wanted only a reminder about a small detail of your offering. This wasn’t the call. You can respond later.

4.      Improve the Close Itself: Sign Digitally from Anywhere

OK, NOW you get the call. Your prospect is sold and is faxing you a signed copy of the agreement to review and countersign. But it’s day two at the convention; you’re still there, and you’re busy. Still, you don’t want too much time to pass, or your prospect might wonder if there’s a problem. What to do?

With an online fax service such as eFax®, you can receive, review, edit, digitally sign, and return the fax right from your smartphone. Sign your name on the phone’s screen using just your finger, save the document, then fax it back via email. Deal done.

These are just a few ideas to get your creative gears turning, and I encourage you to seek out other easy-to-use tools to build into your sales process. Remember, small changes can have a big impact on your bottom line.

Success in Real Time

While science fiction writers lead us into a world we'll never see in our lifetime, historians remind us of a world that existed before we were born. Technology however leads us into a far more interesting space: real time. 

Here are just a few examples to illustrate that point. When we are hungry, we go to Yelp and find a restaurant in real time. When we see a breaking news event, we go to Twitter to learn what's happening in real time from citizen journalists. Banks are implementing technology that allows people to manage their money in real time. Big Data technology allows real time analysis and pattern recognition that leads to faster and better decisions. Online technology shows us what our customers are doing on our website in real time. For example, Hubspot's new sales tool Signals tells us when an email has been opened by the recipient in real time. A great opportunity to connect with a prospect instantly. 

Real time analysis is not only used for business, but in many other fields. For example, this month, the State of Nevada installed special sensors in snow plows that deliver information to a data center that combines real-time street information with data from radar and computer weather models to get a real time look of present and emerging winter road conditions. 

A company called 94Fifty created a basketball with special sensors that gives the player instant feedback for every pass or shot, tracking ball speed, shooting angle and ball rotation. Real time feedback does wonders for improving performance. 

To tell us how Marketing in Sales is moving into the real time space, check out this five-minute video interview with David Meerman Scott, the author of Real Time Marketing and PR. 


You can connect with David, our keynote speaker, at our next Sales 2.0 conference in San Francisco on May 5-6 and shake hands with him in real time.  


When salespeople should say "no"

In the January issue of Selling Power magazine in the Cloud we published a cover story with Seth Godin. To enhance the experience with our content we now add video interviews that I think you will find very helpful. 

In this short video (3:44 min) Seth explains why saying no to client builds trust and why accepting a no from a client can help you build a stronger relationship.