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Ditch Your CRM and Get More Done!

I've seen the future, and I’ve decided to ditch my CRM and get more done.

What's the secret? Contatta. It’s a brand new cloud solution that could have 10 million subscribers within the next five years. I think it’s destined to dwarf salesforce.com’s numbers. Why? Because this software works for the salesperson, not the sales manager.

Here is a little-known fact: the average time a salesperson spends on salesforce.com per day is less than 40 minutes (check Alexa.com for average site visit), which represents only 8.3 percent of a salesperson's day. Contatta is designed to help salespeople work smarter, collaborate better, and leverage social media to the max. It’s like a Swiss Army knife that has everything a salesperson needs to sell like a rock star.

Contatta has been developed and designed by the creator of ACT!, Pat Sullivan, who sold ACT! for $45 million to Symantec in 1993. He then started Saleslogix and grew his second company to more than $100 million and sold it to Sage for $260 million in 2001. He has quietly spent the last few years designing and developing Contatta, which in my opinion will lead to a business three-peat.

Here are just three of the most exciting functionalities, among many others:

1. Contatta turns email into a sales-productivity hub. You don't have to hunt for past emails or spend time searching for files that you know you received but can't locate. You can transfer emails to a workroom, which allows you to work on your projects whenever you choose. No more lost emails or dropped projects.

2. Contatta turns email into a social-media listening post that would make the NSA proud. This clever software not only allows you to see what your prospect has tweeted or posted on Facebook or LinkedIn, but you can see all your salespeople’s connections and leverage the collective social-media power of your entire sales team.

3. Contatta ends email forwarding forever. The sales team can share emails (private or public settings), and anyone from your team can collaborate and add messages, comments, and advice, so your salespeople can tap into the collective intelligence of your organization.

I've had the privilege of interviewing Pat Sullivan, and I’ve edited this half-hour video down to the most essential 3 1/2 minutes. 

 


Nature vs. Nurture: Are You Born A Salesperson?

Samet_headshotToday's post is by Hannah Samet, Consultant at Treeline, Incorporated. This post was originally published on the Treeline blog
 
 
 
 

Since beginning my role as a consultant at Treeline, I’ve learned what seems like an infinite amount of information in a comparatively short amount of time.  Not only have I learned about recruiting, I’ve learned about numerous other sales industries as well.  From software/tech sales, to pharmaceutical, to manufacturing, the world of sales is vast and expansive.  It’s hard work,  but I’ve learned that a career in sales offers so much growth and opportunity and that it is nothing like the negative stereotype that we all think of when we hear the word “salesperson.”

I’ve heard many people say that in order to be a good salesperson, you need to ‘be born with it’ – ‘it’ being that natural talent and charm that is necessary to sell pretty much anything.  While charm and allure certainly give you an advantage in sales, I don’t find it to be the most important asset that a salesperson needs to possess.

As a natural introvert, I never dreamed that a career in sales would be a good fit for me.  But as time has gone by, I’ve become more and more comfortable speaking with candidates and pushing myself out of my comfort zone.  Ultimately, the most important lesson I’ve learned during my time here is that being too afraid to take chances and step outside your comfort zone will ultimately lead you to failure.  As a salesperson, you have to be willing to pick up the phone, call people, and be persistent.   Sure, people may be annoyed or uninterested, and it may feel uncomfortable at first, but it’s necessary in order to be successful. After only a few months, I’ve learned to push myself and become a strong salesperson. And I feel this is due not to a natural instinct but being equipped with the right training and management team.

I consider myself lucky that I started my career in recruiting. I have the chance to work with people and help advance their careers both professionally and financially, and that is truly rewarding.

My best advice to anyone considering a career in sales is don’t be afraid.  It may be a cliché, but it’s the most important lesson I’ve learned so far. Starting a new career in any industry is intimidating; you may not be sure what you’re getting into or what to expect, but sometimes you just need to dive in.  If you find a great company with a great team like I did at Treeline, chances are you won’t regret it.

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How Much Value Do You See in Social Media?

Today, the combined market value of Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter is more than $162 billion. That’s a huge value for companies whose customers create content that their friends, followers, and connections avariciously consume (often while they probably should be doing something else).

Last week, Dave Kurlan, the author of Baseline Selling, wrote an interesting blog post about how salespeople don’t get traction with social media. One passage struck a chord:

“It's time that we stop expecting sales to increase as a result of CRM, social selling tools and email.  They are great tools, but none of them replace actual selling, and even worse, all of them serve as distractions, false safety nets and busy work that must be completed before salespeople are caught up and can get on the phone.”

Kurlan’s findings are based on compelling information. He states that there is a lack of correlation between the use of social-media tools and key sales metrics. (Note: Kurlan’s company, Kurlan & Associates, has more than 1,400 Twitter followers.)

Kurlan’s source can’t be brushed off; the information is drawn from more than 10,000 sales assessments from more than 200 industries. 

As the daisy chain of CRM-related apps expands dramatically (many companies now use 15–20 different "sales-productivity enhancing apps"), salespeople are spending more time with information that's either pushed to them or they access at will.

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Salespeople find social media interesting at first, but they often get lost in the execution.

 

Social media can turn into a subtle thief of time, demanding our attention and luring us away from the path that would move the sale forward. It is easy to think that social-media tools were created to tickle our egos, and when I hear people brag about the number of Twitter followers, LinkedIn connections, and Facebook friends or “likes” they have, I begin to wonder if salespeople are paying more attention to growing their social-media metrics than their customer base.

Jill Konrath (16,800 Twitter followers), the author of SNAP Selling,  explains in a recent video, "What You Need to Know About the Rise of Social Selling", that social selling is about four things:

  1. Building a strong online brand
  2. Gathering sales intelligence
  3. Making connections
  4. Sharing good stuff 

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Jill Konrath talks about the rise of social selling. When will we hear about the fall of Facebook?

George Dans, author of the book Just Close It!, shared his reluctance to keep up with Facebook; he’s thinking about shutting down his connection to more than 1,600 friends (he has 43 Twitter followers). Dans spoke at our last Sales 2.0 Conference, and I am willing to bet that he’ll soon follow through with this plan. I personally love Twitter (5,800 followers) and LinkedIn (3,400 connections), but like George, I don’t see Facebook’s ROI in business. 

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George Dans believes that there are too many “likeaholics,” and he thinks of quitting Facebook.

Award-winning sales blogger Anthony Iannarino  (more than 31,000 Twitter followers) frames the issue of social media in a different light in his blog

“The new tools are amplifiers. They amplify what you already are. If you’re a pitch machine, always pushing how wonderful your product, your service, or your solution is, the new tools will amplify the fact that you are all about you. It takes something negative and amplifies it, making it even more negative than it already is.”

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Anthony Iannarino has more than 31,000 Twitter followers - a big megaphone for his blog that’s read by 45,000 salespeople.

Koka Sexton, a social-media guru and marketing manager at LinkedIn, says in the following YouTube video that “social selling is just being able to leverage social networks in a way that accelerates your deal cycles, as well as gets you more connected with your network in a way that can open new opportunities.”

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Is there a LinkedIn study that refutes Dave Kurlan’s claim? Is social selling something that helps social-media companies more than salespeople?

The fact that Koka Sexton has 30,000 Twitter followers and this video got only 123 views makes me wonder if social metrics matter.  We know that the combined market value of LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook is more than $162 billion, but what value are these companies creating for their customers? 

We love to invest in dreams.

At the heart of social media is the dream that connections can turn into relationships, and relationships are the foundation of business. The reality of the digital economy is that we are working for two businesses: one is our business, and the goal of that business is to create customers. The other business is to serve and interact with the software products in the cloud that we need to deploy in order to attract, engage, sell, and service our customers.

And here is the challenge with all things in the cloud: the more we train our minds on the cloud, the less traction we have under our feet to move sales forward.

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Let's Stay Positive On Social Media

Since my wife, Laura, and I founded Selling Power in 1981, it was our objective to create a positive platform for the professional sales community. So imagine my surprise when this tweet from a sales consultant appeared on my timeline: 

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The 18 characters “Totally disgusting!” sounded like an alarm. But what’s alarming is the complete inaccuracy of the tweet and the harm it caused to us. After working diligently for over thirty years to serve the professional sales market, I was – and am – alarmed that anyone would send such a thoughtless and malevolent message. But that’s the downside of social media.

That tweet was fired off prematurely. At the time, the conference speaker line-up and the agenda was still a work in progress. Of the final 26 speakers, our sponsors selected 14 and of the 10 remaining speakers that we selected, 5 are women.

In the years we’ve been publishing Selling Power, we’ve reached out to the sales community to cover every innovation and tried to keep ahead of the market. One of the areas we began covering back in the mid ’80s was women in sales. We profiled or interviewed many who’d made a significant contribution either to sales or to motivating others to succeed, including (and here I list only a few because to list them all would take up the rest of this post) Mary Kay Ash, Venita Van Caspel, Meg Whitman, Anne Mulcahy, Danica Patrick, Maria Sharapova, Mary Lou Retton, Jackie Joyner Kersee, Oprah Winfrey, and many others. We also profiled many women sales managers and reps who were doing well in the field. In fact, we wrote our first cover story on women in selling in 1983. Who else was doing that?

Our company, Selling Power Inc. employs more women than men. Over 2/3 of our staff are women. My wife is the editor of Selling Power magazine, one daughter is the editorial director and another daughter is VP of Sales and Marketing and she also runs our Sales 2.0 events serving over 2,000 sales leaders in four different locations in the US and the UK. I don’t have the slightest bias against women, and I would not want my daughters or wife to be discriminated against. The ratio of women to men running our Sales 2.0 events is 90% to 10%. 

Staying Positive

It’s easy to fly off the handle, tap out 140 characters, besmirch someone’s good name and efforts, all in order to get some attention or a reaction. After all the hard work we have done to support the entire sales expert community, it’s dissappointing. And does no good for the sales community. We’re about building, not tearing down. We’re about staying positive in the face of adversity, not dragging people into a  muddy bog.

Within days of Jill’s first tweet, a number of women sales trainers, consultants and authors joined her crusade, not knowing that the conference agenda was incomplete, and not knowing that our hands are tied when our sponsors decide who in their company, or of their customers, would be best suited to represent them and provide useful insights to the audience. 

Jill Konrath founded the group of 30 women sales experts some time ago with the goal to “share news.”

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In the past we have offered a number of Sales Shebang members free passes to our events and shared their expertise with our Selling Power audience in print and online. Two Sales Shebang members have previously spoken at our events, and a third is joining us at the upcoming event.

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I have had the privilege of contributing and working with some of the most amazing women in America like Oprah, Hillary Clinton or Mary Kay Ash and I deeply appreciate their contributions to our world.

Do we withhold our support of women for any reason? 

Jill Konrath admitted in her email that she’d held a grudge against Selling Power magazine because seven years ago, we researched and featured the top earning sales keynote speakers and all of them were men. Jill wanted to see us feature more women sales speakers. Any magazine subscriber can go online and within minutes find that Selling Power has written about Jill Konrath and her work at least ten times in the past ten years. (Search “Jill Konrath” on www.sellingpower.com.)

What’s really behind all this brouhaha?

Jill Konrath is a respected thought leader in the field of selling. She has written books that have helped thousands of salespeople improve their professional skills. We also share her view that not enough women get promoted in corporate America and we agree that we are going through a period of equalization. As more women move up to sales management, American business will grow, sales will improve, and the power of women will rise. I applaud her vigilance and I’m glad we were able to correct the initial misperceptions that started this whole tweet-o-rama.

So here is the happy ending. A 140-character peace offering from Jill Konrath that was tweeted yesterday:

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I think the US Government should take as an example how regular people can figure out how to reach across the aisle to resolve differences. We need more thoughtful, positive resolutions in this world where it’s easy to tear things down, but difficult to build something of value. That’s what we’ve always tried to do at Selling Power and that’s what we’ll continue doing in the future.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

P.S. I hope to see you at the Sales 2.0 Sales Performance Management Conference in San Francisco, Oct 16-17. It’s not too late to register today. As a way of thanking you for reading all the way to the end I am offering you this special discount code SPMCircle to get 50% off.

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