Over the last year, I’ve had the privilege of interviewing over 30 influential B2B sales and marketing leaders. It has been a pleasure to interview each of them and share perspectives on topics ranging from B2B lead generation and inside sales to social media trends and personal branding.
Below are some highlights from recent interviews. Enjoy!
|Today's Featured Guests|
|Jim Dickie, CSO Insights
Dan Waldschmidt, Waldschmidt Partners
Bob Perkins, AA-ISP
Michael Brenner, SAP
Click to start video at this point—When I asked Jim if he spotted any disruptive trends this year, he stated that overall he sees a climate of camaraderie. The thing companies really have to start dealing with is metrics, not hunches.
Not Enough Leads. Sales teams say they never have enough leads, but is that really the case? The metrics would make transparent what type of leads are going to sales and whether or not they're being accepted by the sales team as a sales lead. It will also shed some insight on whether or not those leads dropped out before speaking to a sales representative and it should explain why. We should definitely start analyzing the metrics so we can be more effective in closing sales and generating better leads.
Accurate Closing Forecasts. Although some sales reps claim that they close 60 to 80 percent of qualified leads, the Sales Performance Optimization Study showed that on average there is only a 46.5 percent close rate on forecasted deals. It's important to look at the trends. For example, what are the trends of leads being accepted by sales? It should be trending up if marketing is doing a better job of understanding what sales is looking for.
Click to start video at this point—Dan admits that change isn’t easy, especially for multi-million dollar companies. However, by focusing on four key areas, company leaders can take pressure off their teams while standardizing their approaches to success:
- Strategies. Before focusing on tactics, Dan urges his clients to consider whether they want to focus on a single, huge deal every year or dozens of small deals every month.
- Processes. Dan recommends defining specific days by routine actions, such as staging follow-up calls on one day each week, and field presentations on another.
- Tools. Salespeople often forget to follow up or follow through when they lack a tool that reminds them, Dan says. Tools like Salesforce and Boomerang can help keep opportunities from falling through the cracks.
- Connections. Like family pets, relationships require routine care and feeding.
The right systems offset our human abilities to remember only a handful of names, tasks, or appointments at any given time. Organizations that embrace strategies, processes, and tools enable their sales professionals to use more of their brain power to do their jobs better.
Click to start video at this point—“Ten to fifteen years ago, inside sales was viewed as a stepping stone to the field, and it still is today, as I believe it should be,” Bob says. However, Bob adds that inside sales jobs offer compelling perks and rewards for experienced sales professionals, such as:
- reduced travel requirements,
- regular hours, and
- work from home options and telecommuting flexibility.
With pay and compensation packages rising because of the challenge of recruiting talent, more field sales reps feel comfortable trading their traditional commissions for the relative stability of inside sales positions.
Bob’s research indicates that most sales professionals cite career advancement as their biggest concerns. Challenging inside sales jobs offer experienced representatives an alternative career path to management. With professional certifications, higher pay, and clearer career paths, Bob looks forward to an exciting future for inside sales experts.
Click to start video at this point—As we look forward at the remainder of the year and into the next, Michael recommends talking to your sales team about social selling. Michael generally talks about this first with the inside sales team to have them explore ways they may be able to reach consumers that they haven’t with traditional methods. LinkedIn leads the way as a social marketing platform for business, offering many ways to connect.
Michael also recommends that every professional look at personal branding. This applies not only to sales and marketing professionals, but also to business owners and entrepreneurs. More and more people are tuning out from the traditional news methods and tuning into social channels, keeping up with the latest news by getting it from their peers. As this trend continues it becomes more important to create your own personal brand.
I hope you enjoyed these highlights as much as I did. If you would like to learn more about current trends in B2B sales and marketing and how to overcome market challenges please visit our blog.
By Dan McDade