You know that expression about surrounding yourself with people who are smarter than you? Well, I recently did just that. I had the privilege of attending the AA-ISP Unite Conference, and I came back to the office inspired, motivated and hungry for more.
For those of you not familiar, the AA-ISP is the American Association of Inside Sales Professionals. You have likely come to grasp that I’m something of a sales nerd, so getting to chat with and learn from stars like Ken Krogue, Mike Schultz and Mark Kosoglow was a big plus.
It’s an interesting thing to be surrounded by a large group of people who share the same passions as you. The energy gets flowing, new ideas form and you begin to critique your own processes. It is also an interesting thing to do all of this under the bright lights of Vegas. While MOST of what happens in Vegas stays there, this is too valuable not to share.
Data Is HOT Right Now
Before diving into the meat of my favorite sessions, I want to address the recurring theme and the undercurrent of nearly every discussion: data. YES, data. I mean it. We had a room of 300+ sales people talking about data and how darn important it is to building efficient and scalable teams. These are my people!
Not only were the Directors, Managers and Team Leads in attendance talking about how they measure and what they measure, but there were also a number of vendors presenting their tools. Spoiler: these platforms focus on meaningful data around rep activity and accomplishment. Tracking call and email counts is really just the beginning of what these newer generation technologies can offer. This is a shameless grab from Derek Grant’s (VP Sales at SalesLoft) presentation, but you don’t want to be like this guy:
“Our reps make a couple of calls and send a couple of emails.”
We are living in a world where truly understanding the metrics of success for your team is critical to staying ahead of the competition.
The Black Box
Speaking of staying ahead, I want to spend some time discussing Mark Kosoglow’s presentation called, “Get Out of the Black Box of Sales.” Mark serves as the Vice President of Sales for Outreach, a company that focuses on sales communication, and he is a pretty humorous guy. He kicked off his presentation asking the audience the name of the historical period in Europe marked by a downturn in innovation. A few brave souls spoke up with, “the dark ages,” and Mark went on to explain that sales had, for many years, been in its own period of darkness.
There have been decades in which sales organizations have operated without visibility into what works vs. what doesn’t. The only data these teams had was around the dollar amounts of their sold deals. They had no way to track what truly led to success, so had no way to make the “winning” process repeatable for the balance of the team.
How many touches, on average, does it take to develop a lead from cold outreach? What email templates tend to convert prospects at the highest rate? How long do deals typically stay in each sales stage? Do certain reps on your team close deals at a higher rate? These are some of the questions that modern teams are beginning to ask, and technology is finally able to support them in these efforts. Mark made a wonderful point in saying, “If your competitors are in the Renaissance, and you’re in the dark ages, you’re in trouble.”
More Sales Goodies
There were so many insights from this conference that I wanted to share – here are a few little gems that I took away. I hope you find them valuable!
From Carole Mahoney of Unbound Growth
Anytime someone gives you a look on LinkedIn, drop them a message with something like, “I saw you checked me out on LI. What led you to my profile?” It is a great way to start a dialogue and it may help you fill the top of the funnel.
Also from Carole, when discussing prospects who have “gone dark” or become otherwise unresponsive, was an idea around an email. She mentioned she will sometimes send a message with the title, “I’m sorry I dropped the ball,” with text in the body along the lines of, “Typically I hear back on proposals within X days.”
From Dionne Mischler of Inside Sales by Design
Ask yourself periodically, “Are you easy to buy from?” This was a great reminder to get back to basics and keep it simple for your prospects. It isn’t about how we want to sell to them, but how they want to buy from us.
Also from Dionne was the lovely reminder of, “Plan your work. Work your plan.”
All in all, it was a great few days in Vegas learning from industry greats. For those of you not aware of the AA-ISP, give them a look here. They host events across the country to help encourage growth in the Inside Sales profession, and there are some wonderful minds involved.
With the end of the year fast approaching, I will be taking a brief rest from blog writing to ensure we finish ’16 strong. While you anxiously await my return, spend some time checking out the Base Resource Center. I hope all of you have a wonderful holiday season – happy selling!