The Sales 2.0 Conference Post

Last Updated Jul 20, 2009 6:22 PM EDT

Today I'm trying something different. I'm at the Sales 2.0 conference in Boston and will be providing a "running update" of everything that happens here. The conference (sponsored by one of my publishers SellingPower) tends to feature real-life customer stories about how they use technology. I'll be taking notes and sharing my first impressions with you as the conference proceeds.

My overall impression of the conference was that the technology really does represent something entirely new and potentially very powerful. It extends measurement into areas, like lead generation, where there had been too much finger-pointing and not enough truth-telling. As for the conference itself; it was flawlessly run, very high tech, fast-paced, and probably one of the best events I've ever attended.

Here's my blow-by-blow comments, entered as I was attending:

7:30: Breakfast: The conference is at the Boston Fairmont, arguably the poshest hotel in Boston. Most of the conferences I've attended in the past were computer industry events and thus pretty bare bones. The meeting room is all baroque ornamentation, so it's almost like sitting inside an enormous hatbox. At one end of the room is bandstand in the form of a half-shell clam, like Botticelli's Venus.

Based upon what I've seen so far of the attendees, I'd have to say that they were split about half and half between vendor folk and customers of the vendor folk. That's unusual because most business conferences tend to be filled with vendor marketing folk, with nary a customer to be found. I consider this a good sign because the point of coming to this conference (for me) is to hear some real customer stories, not to hear vendors spout marketing jargon.

OPENING REMARKS: Gerhard Gschwandtner, the publisher and founder of Selling Power is setting the stage for the rest of the conference. He revealed some interesting facts about selling during a recession:

  • You need 15 to 20 percent more prospects to makes the same revenue as before the recession.
  • 22 percent of deals are lost to "no sale" which means that it was never a real opportunity.
  • It takes 20 to 30 percent longer to close a sale than before the recession.
KEYNOTE: The speaker, Eric Berridge, CEO of Bluewolf (company that does CRM integration) gave a great definition of what Sales 2.0 is all about. (More on this in a future post.) He also provided some interesting statistics based upon why customers buy B2B. Here's the mix:
  • 16 percent politics
  • 23 percent chemistry
  • 32 percent trust and understanding
  • 29 percent solution
What's cool about this data is that YOU, the sales rep, have control or major influence over most of those elements!

SALES LEAD MANAGEMENT 2.0: This session has sales managers fromsome pretty impressive companies explaining how they use Sales 2.0 tools to generate better leads. The most interesting characteristic of each presentation was that the impact was measured and quantified. A fair amount of talk about ROMI (Return on Marketing Investment) -- a much needed concept inside most companies. The vendors that the sales managers recommended were InsideView, SalesGenie, Lead Dogs and Jigsaw. Two of the sales managers slammed Hoovers as being not very good at B2B contact data, which was unusual since Hoovers is a conference sponsor. Most conference shy away from that kind of criticism, but in this case it adds credibility that the viewpoints are honest. Presenters were:

  • Travis Fore, senior vice president of sales and service at Network Solutions, the web-hosting firm.
  • Daniel Maier, vice president of worldwide inside sales at Mathcad PTC, an engineering software firm
  • Albert Springall, a senior marketing manager at Microsoft's Dynamics group
  • Glenn W. Haertel, an executive vice president at SynQ Solutions, a marketing strategy firm
CUSTOTER ENGAGEMENT STRATEGIES: The most interesting presenter was Kieth Matthews, whose company used ConnectAndSell to create a pipeline that had more opportuntiies in it than his organization was capable of developing. They're a $125 million company and they've got $200 million the pipeline and are targetting $1 billion. It's kinda the opposite problem that most companies are having -- getting good leads. One of the presenters was from the market research firm IDC who actually said "there are lies, damn lies and IDC statistics." Alwasy suspected that was the case, but it was refreshing to hear an IDC analyst admit it. Presenters were:
  • Keith Matthews, the executive vice president and co-chairman of Kelron Logistics, a provider of transportation solutions.
  • Barry Trailer, a partner at the sales-oriented research firm CSO Insights
  • Thomas J. Gaydos Jr., the director of marketing at Evolve IP, an Internet telephony provider,
  • Stephen Drake, the program vice president for mobility and telecom at the market researdch firm IDC
SALES PROCESS 2.0: The main thrust of the discussion is how measurement demands changes in the sales culture. It's become sadly clear to me that a lot of sales reps life in a world of information poverty. They don't know much about their prospects and customers. When they've got all that information, though, the salest team no longer has any excuses for not moving a sale forward. The new sales rep can't be afraid to be measured, and can't blame marketing for providing poor leads. I think this is going to be scary for some folks. The most interesting presenter was the guy from PWC, which has provided sales training to 5000 its consultants and partners (not the sales staff; they only have 132 of these). His claim is that PWC is doing fine with revenues during the recession while his competitors are all laying off. Presenters were:
  • Barry Trailer, a partner at the sales-oriented research firm CSO Insights
  • Kelli Stephenson, the vice president of sales effectiveness at Experian, a credit reporting firm
  • Jeffrey S. Kaufman, a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers
  • Mark Myette, the director of the sales center of learning and performance at Pitney Bowes, a provider of office supplies and services
  • Ryan Bott, the acting director of inside sales strategies at Cymphonix, an Internet security firm
CULTURE OF MEASUREMENT: One of the upsides of measurement is that you can use a tool like Xactly to find out what your commission will be on an upcoming sale. That way, if your management is clever about setting compensation so that it promotes corporate goals, you can align your activities so that you make the most money AND have the best impact on your firm. (Which is not, alas, always the case.) Profesor Olroyd revealed some interest facts about responding to web site queries. Essentially, if you don't respond within 20 minutes with a phone call, you can kiss that prospect goodbye. That's a bit of an oversimplification, but apparently even a self-identified prospect doesn't remain a prospect for very long. Presenters are;
SOCIAL NETWORKING: Nigel (he's English, who woulda thunk it with that name?) explained that getting involed in a social networking site with a prospect prior to calling can increase your likelihood of getting an appointment by by 8 times. On the other hand, there's a little silliness going on here. Watching Twitter ain't research, which is what one of the speakers was seemingly pretending it was. In a surprise move, a guy from Microsoft pointed out that most of the time people are just wasting time when they're on Twitter and Facebook, doing social things that have no tie in with sales activity. The answer from the panel is that you have to compenstate people correctly. Presenters are:
  • Trish Bertuzzi, the president of The Bridge Group, a group that helps technology companies with inside sales.
  • Kady Chiu, the founder of Kadidid Marketing Consulting, a firm that specializes in the practical applications of social networking.
  • Nigel Edelshain, the CEO of Sales 2.0 LLC (and reputedly the inventor of the "Sales 2.0" buzzword)
  • Anneke Seley, the CEO of PhoneWorks, a service firm that help companies with inside sales.
Nice cocktail hour afterwards, with free drinks. I introduced myself to most of the vendors, which were a pretty select group. Overall, an excellent experience from top to bottom.