Sales 2.0 Conference, Day Two- My Favorite Sessions

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I attended two fantastic sessions at the Sales 2.0 Conference on Tuesday, the first was the Sales 2.0 Training panel discussion and the second was the Social Networking & Sales presentation.

I went to the Sales 2.0 Training session prepared to hear about how sales training will go extinct in this virtual and social era but was pleasantly surprised with the discussion. Sharon Little, Director of Global Field Communications for vmware shared how she addresses training from a Sales 2.0 perspective. She explained how customers are different, salespeople have more tools, they must upgrade their skills and sell in a fragile economy. She shared that large global sales kick-offs with her company are no longer feasible not only because of our economy but also because it is difficult to get everyone in one place. Instead her company conducts Quarterly Business Reviews by region. She also presented a wholistic approach to training and believes training must be aligned with the way salespeople want to learn. There must be a good assortment of video content, audio content, information that is easily digested and delivered just in time.



When asked how she measured training ROI, she said “it’s hard to measure something that is so subjective…it’s not black and white like measuring leads..you need to measure it on a gut level.” This is an answer from someone who watches, listens and pays attention to her sales organization- I appreciate her insight on this.

Then Gerhard asked the audience the big question: “Is selling a science or an art and what is the percentage?” Many answers and opinions came out of this but my favorite was:  the part of selling that is a science is when you provide tools, processes, methodologies, systems to do the job. The part that is an art is the skill development, the sales instinct and the managers who coach and mentor their teams. Success in sales requires 50/50 strength in both these areas.

The next session was a presentation by a little fireball, Clara Shih, Author of The Facebook Era– very brilliant social media expert. I was interested in what she had to say because I’ve been super lazy in building my Facebook profile. Something had to give on the social networking front and this just fell off the radar. After Clara’s insightful and thought provoking talk- I’m going back. In terms of sales prospecting, Clara made a good point that as the price of the sale goes up, the more we should invest in personal relationships with our prospects and clients. That means when you are trying to contact someone and notice their son just had a birthday or they just won a marathon, to include that in your introduction. 

Most decisions will be made through crowdsourcing which means one person asks the question and a lot of people jump in. This happened recently when a prospective client posted a question on LinkedIn about the best Inside Sales Vendors out there. It was amazing how many responses he received and although we had a proposal he was considering, he preferred to crowdsource his request and it confirmed we were a major player in the space.



I’m always fascinated with the level of influence someone has and we will all have a Social CLV tag next to us that defines our level of influence and our ability to make something happen. It includes:

  1. The number of word of mouth referrals they can generate
  2. The customer support cost savings
  3. Sales resulting from and idea/contribution

1 COMMENT

  1. Hi Josiane,

    It’s a shame that Sharon Little sees measuring the ROI of VMWare’s investments in sales training as something subjective and difficult. There are significant benefits to her and her organization were she able to measure the impact of her sales training spend.

    Over many decades there has been a reluctance on the part of sales leaders and many sales trainers to be held accountable for the results of sales training. Excuses are plentiful. Here’s one: You can’t separate the impact of training from other factors, such as the economy, changes in the competitive environment, and launches of new ad campaigns. There are many others. We’ve heard them all.

    The fact is you can measure the sales performance improvement that directly results from learning and training initiatives. ESR worked with Wilson Learning, The Complex Sale, SPI, and Performance Methods, and their clients to prove, without any doubt, that the results of training can be measured. We know that there are other sales training companies that do a very good job of this as well.

    Regarding the other point… There is certainly no way to explicitly measure what part of effective selling is art and what part is science, at least not according to ESR’s measurement experts. But our sense is that there is much more science required than art–perhaps 80/20 or more. The degree of science, in our view, is directly proportional to the complexity of the opportunity (or account). We know, through a significant amount of qualitative research, that salespeople who plan, use a process, employ checklists, and think strategically are consistently more successful than those who don’t. And all that stuff is science, not art.

    We also know that managers who aren’t capable (a result of a trait deficiency or a lack of skills) of managing, coaching, and hiring via a process (as opposed to gut feel, or the “art” approach) aren’t nearly as effective as those who do.

    During 2010 ESR will be looking at this issue, among other sales effectiveness considerations.

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