Hand Raisers Not Finger Pointers


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This week I attended Selling Power’s Sales
Leadership Conference in Las Vegas and had a chance to meet a lot of CSOs in
person and hear some terrific presentations.  Gerhard Gschwandtner (who may already have
become one of those people known only by his first name) started his presentation
with an exercise.  Asking everyone to
stand and cover their eyes with their left hand, he then asked attendees to
point with their right hand in the direction they thought was north.  [Note:  This is not
the finger pointing of the title.]

If you guessed that people were pointing in every direction,
you’re right. And Gerhard’s analogy was that in today’s rapidly changing and
massively changed business climate, no one really knows where we’re heading.  But in this analog, growth and customer
intimacy drive value.  And “value”
here as defined by the buyer/customer is True North.  (You may be seated.)

You can read more about Gerhard’s views on Sales 2.0, sales
leadership, and the co-creation dance of buyers and sellers on his blog.

The title above is one of ten attributes John Osborn,
President and CEO of BBDO, looks
for in assessing new talent.  The firm
also looks for folks who always do the right thing, handle pressure well, make
the work better and are “Radiators not Drainers.”  If you’re unclear on this last pair of terms,
I once heard drainers described as “energy vampires.”  Now do you get the picture?

Interesting to note that John talked about “looking for the
‘good’ in what we do,” that is, the purpose and worth of the work being
done.  He shared a good deal more than
space allows here but along the lines of Gerhard’s value intro, John talked
about an interesting shift at BBDO from “the work, the work, the work” to “the
worth, the worth, the worth.”  And he
stated that one of his goals is to continue to focus on the “soul” of branding.

This keynote was followed by Jeff Cristee, Area Vice
President (upper Midwest Commercial) for Cisco. 
Talk about your high voltage, laser-focused sales execs!  Jeff talked about leveraging collaboration
technology and gave specific examples, all of which are available today, and
most of which are already in use (though probably underutilized) even in
smaller businesses.  One example he
demonstrated is sending video emails and suggested that 90% of Internet traffic
could be video by 2012.

However, one of the most striking specifics he gave was the
increase in truly loyal Cisco customers increasing from 74% in 2008-09 to 84%
in 2009-10.  And that ten point
improvement attributed to how they
sell (i.e., focusing on customer intimacy, architecture and growth).  

Kind of makes you want to revisit your own goals, employee
engagement, focus, and use of tools doesn’t it?

This, of course, is the value of these conferences.  Being exposed to new ideas, networking with
peers, expanding your thinking while narrowing in to a laser focus. There was
much more, but I’ve already gone on too long for today.  Gerhard talked about his desire to bring
together solution providers with sales leaders (looking for solutions). 

It was a good day and reinforced in my own thinking what we’re
doing with the CSO Forum–leveraging collaboration technology to bring sales leaders together
with peers, subject matter experts and solution providers 24/7.

Sell Well,

Barry Trailer

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Barry Trailer
Barry has been involved in complex B2B sales for over 30 years and is intrigued with how it's changed/changing and what this means to Sales as a Profession (SaaP). Salesware, the analytics company he co-founded, was acquired by Goldmine Software in 2000 and his next company, CSO Insights with Jim Dickie, was acquired by Miller Heiman Group in 2015. He has twice been published by, and been a keynote for, Harvard Business Review, and is author of Sales Mastery, a novel.


  1. Barry,

    Thanks for this great summary (and your spot-on work at CSO Insights). I look forward to hearing more about what you learned at the conference. In particular, I’m curious about two things you mentioned about Jeff’s talk. Do you know:

    1. How is Cisco measuring customer loyalty?; and
    2. How do the results (customer engagement, revenue, etc.) of video e-mail compare to traditional direct marketing campaigns (e-mail without video?)



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