I attended a Technology Association of Georgia (TAG) Sales Leadership event a couple weeks ago on High Velocity Sales Organizations.

(I’m a little late to posting this. Having scaled down to one post a week as I round up 100 Strangers, 100 Days (today’s day 89!), my posts are being stretched out.)

The event headlined:
My take-aways from the event:
  • It’s hard to get the attention in sales, right? Every second counts – literally. The first 10 seconds are to earn a minute. Prospects are looking to be interrupted – pattern interrupt. Kyle mentioned how he was interrupted by a great cold call. Kyle told the caller to “email him later” because he was busy. The sales rep responded with, “are you sure you want to do that?” Kyle was taken back. “What did you say?” The sales rep responded slowly this time, “Are you… sure… you want… to do that?” At that point, Kyle was unsure. Kyle gave him the time. Or another cold call, “Hi, this is SO-SO. How do you handle cold calls?” It broke the ice.
  • Modern sales orgs are challenged to find the balance between “analytical scalable, measure” and “human, empathetic, customer-centric”.
  • Brian has a great track record of growing sales teams from the ground up. At Rubicon, Brian has grown from 1 to 85 sales reps in 10 months. Brian shares the keys to growth are: evangelizing the company message and vision; enable sales professionals to be pioneers; and separating the volatility of sales processes to an innovation team. What works then, gets implemented with the sales team.
  • Wanda shared how she grew from old-school orgs to very dynamic sales organizations. She recognizes the aspects of sales she can affect and what she cannot. She cites the importance of dumping baggage (possibly rigid sales professionals who do not align to the culture). Look for people who are agile, and enable them with the right tools – right tools in the right hands of the right people.
  • Brian also highlighted how the culture of sales people have a consistent theme from previous lives (applicable beyond sales, too). He looks for hustle. Can this person hustle? Is this person intrinsically self-motivated? Can candidate be beat down over and over again, and keep going? He looks for resiliency. To assess this, he tries to get the other person to open up about vulnerable moments.
  • Wanda stresses the importance for excellent communicators. If the email is trash, it says a lot. She’s looking for someone who is aggressive for the job in email. Customers will see the same type of emails. She wants her team to have lots of empathy. Be researchers and technologists – seamlessly pivoting between sales and marketing.
  • Tyce describes three types of people – 1. Person you can tell what to do, and it’ll happen. 2. Just won’t get done. 3. With no instructions, it’ll get done no matter what. Understand the different types and how the generations of people may affect them.
  • Two suggested sales books – 1. Message to Garcia by Elbert Hubbard. 2. How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie.
Yesterday, I attended my third Technology Association of Georgia (TAG) Sales Leadership event. This event was all about the pitfalls (“sins”) of managing a high growth sales team. (Highly relevant for me as we grow at SalesWise.)
The panel featured:
My main take-aways:
  1. The 3 Sins of sales management (from Mark): (1) Poorly designed selling philosophy (culture). (2) Too tolerant of mediocrity. (3) No system for selling or managing sales.
  2. No surprise the panel touched heavily on instilling and persisting a great sales culture. Common phrases throughout the panel included: “surround yourself with top talent”, “raise the bar”, “do not tolerate mediocrity”, “structure”, “understand a sales candidate’s ‘fire’ or motivator”, and “on-going training”.
  3. “Think like a big company” – this really hit home for me as I have been rather capricious in putting down learnings from selling (and marketing) SalesWise. I have a lot of knowledge of what works, what doesn’t work, and the like, but it’s all locked away in my head or in disparate sources (notebook, computer files, etc.). I should document everything in a single place – a living, breathing sales playbook accessible by all.
  4. Instilling structure in the sales organization ensures high productivity and a sustainable sales culture. It highlights the top performers and separates the laggards. Cull the laggards as quickly as possible (they can be like poison), and the average of your team immediately rises.
  5. Promoting high-performing sales reps to leadership positions does not always work. It can also have an exponential effect of decreasing sales (you took your best performer, after all) while poorly leading an established sales team. Recognize not all reps should be leaders, but it’s a leader’s job to disseminate the learnings of high performance to the rest. Recognize, too, rep coaching should be tailored to the individual.
  6. 10 x 10 = 100. The first “10” is you’re only aware of 10% of the whole problem. Dig deeper. “x10” represents the fear of addressing the problem is actually 10 times the reality. Consider your delivery to be productive. And “100”… because problems are typically solved 100 days late.
I attended another TAG Sales Leadership event last week — “Sales Culture Development”. I’m appreciating all these events as I continue to develop as a sales professional (should never really stop learning) and as we, at SalesWise, develop our own sales team. 
Given the panel discussion was about sales culture, there was heavy emphasis on how to engage sales professionals as well as reviewing the metrics that sales professionals are evaluated on. 
The panel included: 
Here were the main topics I took away:
  • Technology presents great opportunities and challenges. It’s important to recognize the dependency we become on technology and how personal effort and attention “disrupts” mass sales efforts. However, in a day of technology bombardment, personalization can be the key to sales.
  • 50-50 training on soft and hard skills. Much of sales comes down to effort, and yet, there are far more resources on teaching sales pros the hard skills to sell, rather than how to address the person and relationship. “Listen through the solution”, don’t “sell through the solution”.
  • Measure with balance. Tom Snyder, Founder of Vorsight BP and accomplished speaker, shared the importance of task clarity. It’s curious how much of sales metrics are based on outcomes (close X-many deals by the end of the quarter) which is akin to a football coach who tells his players to “score!” That’s obvious. What coaches really do is speak with players on the HOW and WHY. 
  • Focus on the funnel. Especially focus on, yes, the bottom of the funnel to ensure deals close, but then, focus on the top of the funnel. Everything in the middle tends to sort itself through effort.
TAG Panel on “How Dynamic Sales Orgs Drive Results”. Pictured from left to right: Jon Birdsong, Mary Ford, Ryan Radding, Eric Mercado, and Kyle Tothill
I attended a Technology Association of Georgia (TAG) event for sales leadership a couple weeks ago about “How Dynamic Sales Orgs. Drive Results”. The panel included:

The majority of the discussion revolved around engaging sales teams either in mentoring and coaching or via direct incentives. Here are a few take-aways:

  • There’s a spectrum of engagement and performance that ranges from (low to high): Resistant, Reluctant, Existent, Compliant, Committed, and Compelled. Mitigate (or remove) reps in the first three groups while promoting and sharing practices of the high performance reps who exhibit innovation and leadership.
  • Drive engagement in these areas: Connection (connect individuals together to form the team), Support (mentoring and coaching), Reward (incentives), Progress (clear career progression model), and Structure (ensure alignment and understanding of roles and responsibilities).
  • Measuring success and engagement should go beyond metrics and activities. Include personal goals – set, met, exceeded? Understand that the “outside” lives of reps has a very real impact on work performance.
  • Beyond retention and promotion stats, evaluate the effectiveness and engagement of the team with referrals by reps and how quickly reps ramp up.
  • Gamification plays to the competitive nature of sales reps with a layer of transparency and accountability.
  • Pull ideas from reps on selling, don’t just push “best practices”. Sales reps can be innovative in how they sell and pushing “best practices” may not be conducive to the reps’ individual styles.
  • Coaching tends to have a “master-subordinate” structure set with boundaries while mentoring allows freer structure and less formality. Mentors tend to go beyond sales topics or even at the current job. Have/ establish both.

Good points raised by the team, and continues to illustrate that to drive sales, it’s all about driving engagement from the team. Companies are organizations of people. Engaging the people within, at the group and individual level, can produce a culture that drives sustainable practices for business growth and team motivation.

Mobility LIVE! put on by the Metro Atlanta Chamber is in its second year September 23-24. The conference calls Atlanta home with some of the most influential enterprises (especially, less on startups) around the mobile [r]evolution

So this was a cool little surprise that I learned about a month ago that there was going to be this conference called Mobility LIVE! in Atlanta hosted by the good people of the Metro Atlanta Chamber. The conference runs for two days bringing together some of the most influential companies together to share their thoughts on mobile technology, and how they’re companies are “mobilizing” to both capture the opportunity and address it.

Mobile’s obviously not new, and it was touted as the greatest inflection points since the invention (or coming about) of the internet.
Day 1 was really just a half-day, and I sat in on a couple sessions as well as the “after-party” at Opera. (What an interesting place Opera is when the lights are actually on and the place isn’t full of… characters.)
So here are some random collection of thoughts and observations from Day 1:

Business Transformed Session starring Brett Cooper (CEO of BlueFletch Mobile (a mobile development company)) who moderated the panel, Jaspal Sagoo (CTO of the CDC), Margaret Martin(CEO of Merlin Mobility, Inc.), Matt Jones (GM of Mobile at Home Depot), and Anthony Gallippi(Co-Founder and Executive Chairman of BitPay)
  • From Jaspal, the opportunity in mobile lies in “speed to science”. That is, the ability to empower epidemiologists in the field to quickly analyze data. The CDC, as many people are aware of the Ebola outbreak in Africa are hearing about, must deal with lots of issues around analysis and the speed to which they can understand pandemics. The U.S. is obviously incredibly structured with robust communication lines. In Africa, these are luxuries nowhere to be found.
  • From Margaret, Merlin Mobility sees her company’s endeavor into Augmented Reality as a key piece in the future to empower largely two functions: sales and training. From a sales perspective, contractors or merchants can super-impose images of potential products and how they fit thereby enabling faster, more effective sales opportunities. Very interesting to see how they’re also working with companies in the entertainment industry (like amusement parks) to engage customers in situations like long queues.
  • I got a chance to catch up with Margaret later in the day, and she didn’t mention “marketing” explicitly, but she does see marketing as a function of sales, just much earlier in the funnel.
  • Per Matt, Home Depot sees mobile as an additive experience/ tool for consumers in the stores. For many retailers, mobile means “showrooming” and lost sales. For Matt, he sees mobile as a way to empower customers who walk into Home Depot’s 2,000 stores as means to search for products, validate products, and ultimately, make a buying decision.
  • Anthony (“Tony”) of BitPay sees mobile as a very young, nascent world in payments. Many payment processing startups and companies are built on credit cards which was largely structured 50, 60, 70 years ago. The world is changing to embrace more digital currencies where open structures will dictate real regulation versus the highly lobbied regulations of today’s financial institutions.
  • There’s a feeling of excitement and apprehension to Apple Pay – Apple’s solution/ foray into mobile payments announced during Apple’s recent Worldwide Developer Conference. The general feeling is that Apple has a way of creating markets and creating inflection points where previous companies may have struggled to get significant handholds. However, there’s still lingering effects of Apple duds including Apple Maps that reminds these Execs that not everything Apple touches will turn to gold.
  • Tony sees Apple Pay as a great enabler for larges swathes of the market to start embracing their mobile phones as means for payment. He likes to look at emerging markets in this respect as in many emerging markets, most people don’t have bank accounts. Bank accounts are for the wealthy. However, everyone has a cell phone, and for many citizens in emerging markets, payments can include the exchange of minutes.
  • Mitigating against the risk of Amazon or other ecommerce sites, Home Depot cites its competitive advantages as actually BEING those 2,000 stores. It gives Home Depot incredible reach and localism where they may branch into more delivery options beyond just the “ship-to-store-for-free”. Instead, they may start exploring “ship-to-consignee” from its stores. That is, each one of its stores may be mini-distribution centers. Now, imagine how great that would be for its network of professionals and contractors – who account for 33% of Home Depot’s business – that may need delivery of goods same-day.
  • Talk of drones? Meh. It’s cool, but there are some heavy regulations on that. And besides, delivering a book is cool, but delivering a “bumper” would be bit taller (higher?) task.
  • Margaret sees a growing desire for hands-free applications including leveraging augmented (and virtual) reality technologies. Things like wearables including Google’s Glass are just the tip of the iceberg now.
  • Tony sees the next great wave of opportunities in globalization/ global commerce. The challenge for this today is transactions (payments) across borders. With digital currencies like Bitcoins, those challenges can be greatly addressed.

Hack-Back Invitational Finalist presentations… for the last 30 days, teams create hacks (technology solutions) to address problems for three major social enterprises home-based in Atlanta – American Cancer Society, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, and Points of Light.

  • For the American Cancer Society, it looked like the major problem points/ opportunities they tasked teams to do was utilizing technology to connect the community of the Cancer Survivors Network (CSN). That could include opportunities connect those undergoing treatment, those who have undergone treatment, survivors, etc.
  • The Boys and Girls Clubs of America looked to showcase the positive effects of clubs as part of its programs for prospects, members, and those affiliated with the members (including family members, friends, etc.). Hacks were largely built around club discovery and showcasing those who have stories from their experiences and how they’ve leveraged those experiences into their present.
  • The Points of Light organization seemed to want to address areas including getting involved via volunteer opportunities and creating greater awareness of the organization’s efforts.
  • Great to see so many hackers on the finalist teams with what seemed like other non-entrepreneurial backgrounds. Some teams were formed from their work colleagues who just wanted to work together to help solve these problems for great organizations.
  • One of the Magentic teams showed off its cool augmented reality hack as a way to raise awareness of the Points of Light historical landmarks. That is, if you were in D.C., for example, you could hover your phone (with the app) over a point of reference such as a landmark, and get a super-imposed image of a famous figure to share his/ her historical achievement. Their vision was to also sell “coins” so you could really learn more about different landmarks and the like without having to actually travel. The proceeds from selling these coins would go to Points of Light.

Other interesting things included the Tino Mantella (CEO of the Technology Association of Georgia (TAG)) speaking after the Hack-Back presentations about the outstanding demand for engineers and programmers here in the state of Georgia.

  • Many CIOs are citing 6 months to fill some programming needs.
  • With the Governor of Georgia, TAG is working to implement ‘Code & Programming’ courses for credit in all high schools àgo beyond the 100 out of 400 high school programs who actually have advanced placement (AP) courses for programming today

Overall, the conference has been positive, and it’s great to see a lot of large, established companies come together to share their visions on the mobile front. The conference hasn’t been without its hiccups (mostly technical, ironically enough), but it’s in its 2nd year, and looks promising for future set-ups. Though, I’m a little disappointed there aren’t more sessions specifically about startups and innovation as well as even a tour of Tech Square so close by. Either way, I’m excited for some great speakers and panels tomorrow. Hopefully, I’ll continue to make some great networking connections, and get some interesting inspiration for what’s coming Tomorrow.
What are your thoughts on any of the findings above? What questions do you have or would you ask any of these companies?