At the AA-ISP Leadership Summit, forward-thinking sales leaders compared notes on what best-in-class inside sales teams are doing to improve their performance. Industry leaders briefed attendees on the results of their initiatives + reflections on industry trends. Attending vendors shared their latest client achievements + product enhancements. Over coffee, everyone shared their ideas for improving B2B sales performance and overcoming barriers to doing so.
The key impressions I gained:
- people are the key resource + improved people management is therefore the path through which improved performance will pass. Look for more science in this in the months + years ahead. Science that serves the artform of the task.
- effectiveness of execution on the front lines of sales is a big focus, and on this there were many practical tips + suggestions shared amongst attendees. Intriguingly absent from these suggestions were any on the topic of ‘learning on the front-lines of sales’.
- for many sales leaders, there’s a struggle to balance the urgency of making their numbers, the considerable time + attention it takes to hone best practices, and the need for more + better sales coaching. Seemed to confirm what a global lead in sales training told me recently: the press to report numbers is trumping the known need for better coaching.
- better marketing + sales alignment got little air time, if any. Especially curious given CSO Insights finding that such alignment is one of the top issues for improved performance in 2011. If sales leaders aren’t discussing the need for better alignment with marketing, perhaps its importance as an issue is a little clearer.
- much as was the case at the Sirius Decisions Summit, the greatest success and fastest progress is occurring in firms that are taking small steps and improving incrementally. Best in class firms are accumulating better batting averages, not hitting home runs.
- top performing sales leaders are achieving their own greatest successes with the help of others in the room. Sales leadership is a team profession.
- the process of improving B2B sales performance is a journey, and we’re not there yet.
A summary of my related tweets from the Summit on B2B sales productivity is available here and summarized visually here: