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Sales Productivity Requires Systems of Engagement

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Attended the Sales + Marketing 2.0 Conference earlier this week in San Fran. My key take-away (with links to some related posts)? sales productivity needs improving + it’s going to take ‘systems of engagement’ to get there. Systems which encourage both buyers + sellers to engage more productively with each other. Systems, internally, which create alignment, provoke curiosity, deliver Return-on-Effort, + inspire continuous adjustments. The following explains the main things I learned.

Even modest improvements in B2B sales productivity will have profound impacts on revenues, as Mark Woollen of Oracle noted. It’s a big task, more surely accomplished when marketing + sales work together to improve it. It can be done + the results of doing so can be stunning, as Jim Dickie of CSO Insights noted.

Buyers are now more informed than ever + looking for buying experiences that are more value-creating than information disseminating, as Scott Albro of Focus noted. There’s a need for more engaging, differentiated, experiences for both buyers + sellers. Start by creating exceptionally helpful, valuable, experiences for buyers. As Anneke Seley noted, the customer’s time is limited + their workload isn’t. What’s needed are systems for assisting buyers that provision sales effort + offers of assistance accordingly. For sellers, this requires systems that are action provoking rather than activity recording.

There’s a need for more testing, with better data, more widely shared between Marketing and Sales. As Jim Dickie noted, for instance, the importance of testing for impacts rather than testing for tool functionality. The former is where the gold is. It’s part of a progression to more dynamic sales processes in which firms proactively respond to their observed process performance.

The specific things firms might do to trigger improved sales productivity weren’t prescribed in any one presentation, and varied greatly, but all shared two themes: alignment + thinking differently. As Brett Wallace of BAO noted, next generation leaders are aligning their sales, marketing, and data teams as part of a strategy to drive more revenue from available resources. Christopher Cabrera of Xactly advocated compensating those involved based on the net value their generate from their efforts. Chris Ball of SAP noted the need to increase the clock speed on innovating in aligning needs and capabilities.

In the end, I walked away nodding my head at the underlying message. It’s possible to improve sales productivity, but doing so requires change. Change can be really hard. It can also be incredibly rewarding. The paths to it lie in how people behave. Together. At the end of the day, the most successful amongst us will be those who find ways to harness their skills + efforts, and those of their colleagues, in ways which create signficantly more value for buyers. Buyers will notice. They’ll reward exceptionally helpful firms with their business. Conversely, beware those who think they have the answer. As Lee Levitt noted, beware managers who point to apparent successes as proof of others’ failures. Efforts to own success in improving sales productivity will, ultimately degrade the odds of actually improving it.

The skinny: improving sales productivity is going to be a dynamic, constantly changing, constantly adapting, team sport. Done with aplomb, it should be rewarding + fun. Hard fun, but still fun.

If you’d like more details of things I noted from the Conference presentations, see this six page digest of my tweets.

For more on ‘systems of engagement’, see Geoffrey Moore’s recent presentation on the topic. My thanks to Craig Rosenberg for drawing it to my attention in a de-brief, post-conference.

The above is what I heard + learned during the conference. I’m over 50 with a limited attention span. For others’ notes on the many things I’ve missed, see @Sales20Conf, @annekaseley, @theMetz, @paulcastain, @crmstrategies, @milesaustin, @heinzmarketing, + @damphoux. They, and others, tweeted under the hash sign #sm20 during the conference.

This entry was posted in Return on Effort, change management, conversations, curiosity, fun, process, productivity and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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