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Kent Levi

Great post! I notice now that BOTH are vitally essential. Thanks!

Dave Halker

As business conditions improve in 2010, many sales organizations will be tempted to only grab the "low hanging fruit" versus continuing to build trusted advisor relationships.

Dave Brock

Jill, my two cents: Sales leaders having a strong selling process that they and their reps use is the cornerstone to sales effectiveness. The sales process must be updated to reflect the current realities of their strategies, target markets/customers, and business priorities. A strong selling process is the cornerstone to getting the full value out of Sales 2.0 tools. Regards, Dave

trish bertuzzi

Sales 2.0 Schmales 2.0 (we actually posted a blog by that title)... Cool tools and technology are so last year! Well, still important but not the driving factor that we wish they could be.

What is the big thing this year? Understanding your buyer at an intimate level. What does a day in their life look like? What projects do they and their peers need to focus on to be successful? What does their boss expect of them?

Figure that out, turn it into tools and process, train your reps on the life and language of their buyers... BINGO... you will have a great 2010!



Interesting post - here's what I think...

One of the very few good things to come out the deepest recession in living memory was that sales leaders in most industries, faced with decimated training budgets, were forced to roll up their sleeves and coach their teams themselves.

They no longer had the option to abdicate sales team development to external providers – and do you know what? Many of them actually enjoyed it – in fact they discovered they were pretty good at it.

As a consequence, I believe that in 2010, more and more sales leaders will develop their coaching skills, and look for external mentors themselves, because it is highly likely that sales skills training budgets will never be the same again – ever. An item that appears as a cost on the balance sheet with no tangible return is now going to be subjected to the most rigorous scrutiny – shareholders will insist on that.


Christian Maurer


I like your warning that those leaders betting on technology alone will end up disappointed.

With respect to your recommended remedies, I tend to agree with Jonathan Farrington. The days where you outsource the training of your people are probably gone. Sales Leaders will have to do more on their own and they better spend their scarce training budget left on getting help for themselves.

For many sales managers this will though be a paradigm shift. To transition from manager to leader, they will have to put less emphasis on the outcome oriented part of their "sales force control system" and pay more attention to the behavioral aspects


Nancy Bleeke

The leaders will become a differentiating factor in their team's performance. And possibly more important, in their team's retention. Highly successful sellers will 'play' for the manager/coach who helps them the most.

Managers will need to use effective resources themselves to engage and equip their team. One great resource are Sharpenz ready-to-go sales training kits. They help managers develop their team with little time and expense but a lot of impact.

Your readers have an opportunity to get two FREE Sharpenz boosters ($134 value)! Visit www.sharpenz.com - use the Try It Free to order Better Questions. Then go back and order Now to Wow - you'll deliver a sales boost in just 30 minutes!

Nancy Bleeke

Well, my earlier post was cropped! Thank you Jill for contributing to the Predictions list. Your insight is always valuable - look at the dicussion you started!

Best to everyone in 2010!

Dave Stein

Hi Jill,

Here is one prediction:

Sales productivity in 2010 will remain flat.

Personally, that's a tough thing for me to put forth. My career, like yours, is entirely focused on helping sales leaders and their teams succeed.

Here are three reasons productivity will remain flat (there are more):

1. Right now companies are investing considerably less in training and developing their sales people than they did two years ago. (ESR estimates that sales training spend in the U.S. is down 22% during that period.) I don't have to list the changes we've all experienced as sellers to convince your readers that what a salesperson knew three years ago isn't enough to make them successful now and that on-the-job training as a solution is the least effective way to get a sales person productive.

2. Although the practice of sales managers coaching their people makes sense on the surface, most are not equipped to do so. As you know, effective coaching is a skill that requires learning, practice, and adherence to a formal, documented, and measurable coaching process. Not enough companies realize this or are willing to do what it takes, and therefore little forward progress is being made in this area. It's a shame, because companies that we work with who have the right coaching programs in place enjoy higher sales productivity.

3. Another factor that will prevent forward progress in overall sales effectiveness is the continued mis-hiring of salespeople. The all-too-common beliefs that, “If you hire strong reps, you don’t have to train them," or “The reps will figure out what to do. If they don’t we'll replace them," or “You have to accept that half your reps will be only C players," are all contributing to a fairly dismal situation--somewhere between 20 and 33% of salespeople aren't suited for the sales jobs they hold. They don't have the required traits to get the job done. No amount of training, coaching, Sales 2.0 tools, or anything else, will get them to where they need to be to deliver their numbers quarter after quarter. This is another problem that must be fixed for sales leaders to have a hope of sustainable sales effectiveness.

At ESR we are encouraged that some companies are taking sales performance improvement very seriously and doing the right things to achieve it, but in general we have a long, long way to go. Many sales leaders are still shopping for quick fixes to their sales challenges and as long as they do that, they are unlikely to ever achieve success.

Nigel Edelshain

What's wrong with you guys? Jill is right. Come on.


Jill Konrath

I love all these comments. I think everyone brings their expertise and perspective to the table - opening up all of our eyes to the challenges in front of us.

Dave Stein


What's wrong with us?

Mary Hunt

It's all about responsiveness. If a new tool connects you faster to your client because they use the same tool, then do it. There is a reason we have our phone, fax, mail and now email on our cards, it gives people a choice on how to contact us. Skype, ichat, gotomeeting... are just more ways to connect and transfer information.

I was on the research end of a Buy/No Buy study for million dollar software. In the top three reasons why people didn't buy was "sales rep was non-responsive".

Nigel Edelshain


Don't worry I agree with your points. Really I just do like the way Jill encapsulated the point.

We need to work on the PEOPLE aspect of Sales 2.0 this year. I believe we agree on that. We've got some great new tools and processes, let's get those people rocking.


Paul McCord


Very interesting comments so far--and I agree with many; however, my prediction is that if the economy recovers fairly quickly and strongly all of the “lessons” learned over the past 18 to 24 months will go down the drain as sales leaders face stiff demands for immediate and significant revenue growth. Consequently, the lessons of relationship development, creating a trust based relationship, and coaching the sales team will go right out the window and old habits of get it and get it now no matter what will be the rule of the day.

On the other hand, if the recovery sputter and spits or is simply slow but consistent, I think there is a real possibility that the lessons of the past months will continue to be practiced and may become a permanent change in the way sales leadership is practiced in many companies.

Whether lessons have really been learned will depend on how much pressure for short-term production at all costs sales leaders feel—and I believe this is the year that we’ll know.


Daniel Waldschmidt

I wish I could predict that sales leaders would try to build a community of rabid fans. That they would work to better understand the needs of their target market and drive quality of engagement over quantity.

Sadly I don't see that happening.

1. It is true that in 2010, more sales leaders will be using mainstream social media. Most of these leaders will seek to exploit these channels like they do "HTML email marketing" -- bulk, low value content.

2. Some sales leaders will understand that they can build rapport faster by using these social media tools to add context to a lead's generic status. They will mine hobby info, photo nuance, and "self-descriptors" to send cogent, highly-relevant communication that results in faster reaction time, higher revenue, and lower sales personnel turnover.

3. Sales leaders will make 2010 the year of the obligatory social media presence. Like the business card, being "without" will indicate a lack of preparation and unimportance. Less thought will go into distinction, more noise will be created, and ubiquity will create overall longer selling cycles as less-than-savvy sales organizations find themselves overwhelmed in data.

Kelley Robertson


I would love to predict that sales leaders will becoming more proactive in training and coaching their reps. Unfortunately, I don't anticipate that will happen for three reasons:

1. The leader has risen from the ranks and never received coaching or training so he doesn't feel that his team needs it.

2. The company has outsourced training & coaching in the past but expected a one-day event to miracuously cure their team. Or, they used an off-the-shelf solution that did not achieve results.

3. Budget cutbacks will continue to hamper their efforts to provide training and coaching.

I also agree with Dave and believe that sales leaders need to improve their hiring practices. Simply hiring someone because they have extensive industry experience does not guarantee success. Interviewing skills need to be improved, assessment tools need to be administered, and potential candidates need to be asked tougher questions about previous performance.


Lee Salz

2010 will continue to challenge sales management professionals in ways they've never been challenged before. Many sales teams are weary from a tough 2009.Thus, leadership skills will be called into action early and often this year. While understanding is needed, the key message sales teams must hear is accountability. Sales people need to be held accountable for results.After all, if they don't do their job, the entire company is in trouble.

Building off Dave's point... Smart sales hiring is also critical this year. Sales managers must stop searching for great sales people... and search for the RIGHT sales people who can be GREAT in their organization. This means developing the profile of their ideal sales person and screening for potential syngergies between the candidate and the profile.

Ken Thoreson

I think based upon the past year, with lower incomes, a tougher sales environment,and facign a challenging 2010: sales leadership must understand the true nature of leadershp and focus on the essentials of how to build a Sales Culture that is focused on success.

The role of the sales leader at this time of year is to focus on building or maintaining a great atmosphere of success, dedication and fun. All the marketing plans should be in place, sales systems completed and training planned for the next 90 days.

Here are several actions you should focus on:

1.A shared sense of mission or purpose. Your overall sales goals and "theme" for the year must be reinforced each day, each week, and in every way. Do you have your 2010 theme on posters in your sales areas? Does each salesperson have their "goalboards" hung in their cubes? (These are pictorials of where salespersons rank according to their sales/activity goals, and pictures of your annual sales trip or other goals they have based on their 2010 salesperson business plans.)

2.Clear and attainable goals. Everyone needs a quota, but high-performance sales teams have "stretch goals," as well. These must be realistic. Are your compensation plans or sales contests designed to reinforce the stretch goals?

3.Frequent objective feedback. A sales leader must find the time to coach, mentor and provide insights to keep their sales team focused and constantly improving. Reinforce the positive actions as well as the need to fix the areas that need to be improved. A great phrase you should always use: "If you had an opportunity to make that sale call over again, what, if anything, would you do differently?"

4.Positive rewards for appropriate performance. Do you have a first-quarter sales contest to start the year off properly? Having a yearly sales incentive trip is a must. Now is the time to design your second-quarter contest to build sales activity and required pipeline to ensure your summer will be successful.

5.Timely support and help when requested or needed. Sales leaders gain respect when they provide the atmosphere of "being there" for their team. When a salesperson walks into your office or calls you on the phone, your first response should be, "How can I help you?"

Remember, when you walk into your office each day, your body language, your attitude and your actions will be transferred to your team.

I just want to know how I get my picture posted? :)



Deploying WebTools without planning and training is a recipe for failure. Web Tools are a "results accelerator" in the hands of a trained pro. Without training, those same WebTools will do nothing but accelerate the failure of the sales effort in both time and scope.

Four recommended Do's and Do Not's when it comes to WebTools in the sales organization:

1. Do have clear goals for what you want from the tool - Look at your entire sales process and identify which areas need help. Do you need more contacts, better follow-up, more effective communication or a centralized collaboration tool for all supporting partners? By identifying your specific needs, you will be able to select the appropriate WebTool to meet your goal.

2. Do establish desired metrics - and clearly communicate the expectations of each web tool. It can be distracting to all involved if there is confusion over how the tools will be measured and the effectiveness they deliver. How many leads do you need? How many subscribers to your company newsletter or how many attendees are you reaching with your Web presentations?

3. Don't allow tools to become your sales process - It is important to realize that WebTools are not, and should not become, your sales process / methodology. A sales organization that has allowed Web Tools to become their process is extremely likely to miss their sales goals. WebTools are best suited to serve a specific purpose, and only that purpose. They are not designed to serve as your core sales process.

4. Do invest the time and money to train your salesmakers how to effectively utilize your newly implemented WebTools.

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