7 Takeaways from the Sales Stack Conference 2015

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The Sales Stack Conference (brought to you by Sales Hacker & partners) is the best conference for sales folk around the world. This year we had the pleasure of being there as a gold sponsor. One of the perks was bringing a friend with us! Check out seven takeaways from Julius Narkus, Growth Team Lead from Boomtrain.

Sales Stack Conference 2015

I knew there will be great people, kick-ass ideas, free beverages, and high-quality panel discussions just like in any other Sales Hacker event… But what will I actually learn?

I decided to take some notes. Here are my 7 main takeaways from the Sales Stack Conference 2015:

1. Aaron Ross: “Every sales strategy works depending on the industry”

Is cold calling dead?

Armando Mann, who previously led sales teams at Google and Dropbox and is now heading SalesforceIQ’s sales joked about calling a phone an “ATM”.

Sales Stack Conference 2015

On the other hand, Brian Walton, the Head of Global Sales Development at LinkedIn leverages low volume, well-researched high-quality messages.

You have to try it yourself and see what works”, summarized the host and the legend of sales Aaron Ross. His book “Predictable Revenue” is part of Boomtrain sales team’s onboarding process. I chatted with Aaron before the afterparty and he was really excited about his new book “From Impossible To Inevitable” co-written with Jason Lemkin (who also hosted another session with leading Valley VCs).

Meeting one of your favorite professional authors in person is a pretty good start to any conference, right?

2. Even for junior positions, hire people who already had at least one job out of college

Working in Silicon Valley is not easy. Successful high-growth companies are extremely picky when choosing new employees because everyone’s work has a direct impact on company’s success. The panel of people that built and accelerated many successful teams agreed that college grads face too many life challenges to be effective at work.

Great advice to all friends who are still at college (read University if you’re not in the US): complete internships while studying to demonstrate a level of maturity at your job interviews. An example of a life challenge can be adapting to a new city, finding an apartment or drilling out the best work ethics.

3. Refocus on the basics

Impressive VPs of Sales from four of the hottest companies in tech teamed up to talk about how they scaled their sales organizations at breakneck speeds. Shep Maher (SVP at GuideSpark) acknowledged that the Bay Area is the hottest place in the world for thought leadership. However, he warned not to get distracted and focus on the basic metrics to know when you are ready to scale your business.

Just like Elon Musk focuses on basic physics, sales professionals should always have clear KPIs on top of their minds such as pipeline contribution or meetings qualified.

4. Be entertaining, honest and have a killer story. Especially if you’re on a panel

Who likes boring speakers?

When the host asked the panel about their biggest learnings in early career, Shep Maher shared a personal story. After he finished, the audience of 500 successful sales people gave him standing ovations. What did he say?

He shared a story about being 22. At the time, he managed to set up a meeting with CFO of one of the leading banks. He flew over to Pitsburg to have a 1:1 appointment and, surprise surprise, ran late. The CFO listened to his pitch about webcasting technology and said: “Son, I won’t webcast my calls unless there’s Morgan, Goldman or Merrill on the other side of the phone. Now get the hell out off my office”. In short, it was a disaster.

However, looking back with a hindsight, Shep considers it the best lesson ever. His takeaway was that any 22 y.o. with no business experience can score meetings with top executives.

5. The line between Sales and Marketing has blurrr… Wait, what line?

Last week I went to Node.io event where Jorge Soto and Sean Kester talked about the necessity of aligning marketing and sales efforts to build a growth machine. Honestly, it’s been a hot topic for a few years now.

The customer journey has changed more over the last 5 years than in the previous 50+ years. Technology empowered buyers to complete 70% of their buying journey before even interacting with any sales person. Therefore, both departments must work together to educate and guide the customer. Jill Rowley who was introduced as the Queen of Social Selling suggested that marketing and sales alignment should start from the customer.

What’s a good metric to measure the alignment?

Jamie Shanks, the “host in pink socks” as some people referred, has suggested that sales leaders should know how much % of their sales pipeline should be delivered by marketing.

6. The rise of Social Selling… How to do it right?

“LinkedIn is no longer your online resume. It’s your online reputation.”

claimed another well-known social seller Koka Sexton. You want to do everything to become #1 voice in your industry.

While many people stressed the importance of creating value and educating your customers online, Ken Krogue reminded us the importance of a great CTA (call-to-action). He shared the pitcher-catcher model in which the ball is your content, the catcher is conversion, and the pitcher is your content distribution. CTAs here act as catchers so you need all three parts to make the model work.

Sales Stack Conference 2015

Koka, who was introduced as “the ultimate stalker” for having fingerprints over 340M people on LinkedIn, stressed the importance of building a network: “Leveraging your connections is the single most overlooked thing in sales“.

While social selling has definitely been a hot topic in the industry, the challenge of accurately tracking and measuring your results remains. Jamie Shanks didn’t suggest a solution but noted that if you track what is coming to your CRM (Customer Relationship Management platform) from social activity, you’ll notice an acceleration in your deal cycles.

How do you track your social selling efforts?

7. Chicken and waffles ROCKS!

This might sound random, but I never had chicken and waffles before coming to the US. For those who have no idea what I’m talking about – just try it. You may love it, you may hate it (probably not), but you have to at least try it. Just like in sales, you won’t know what works best until you experiment.

In the end, I love events that bring together so many great companies, authors and thought leaders (and have great food/drinks). As a value-add, the last panel shared 3 hacks for sales pipeline generation. I’ll write a post about them and post it here.

This post was originally published on Julius’ LinkedIn.

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