By Shawanda Roberts
Director of Sales, Americas
Frost & Sullivan
The 2nd Annual Sales Team Alpine Retreat (STAR): A Frost & Sullivan Executive MindXchange was nothing short of INSPIRING! The event took place in scenic Lake Tahoe from February 11-13, 2019, where over 70+ Fortune 500 sales leaders gathered to talk about strategy, innovation and proven sales tactics. As a sales leader and team member, I leverage this event to share and learn best practices and to find solutions to some of the top sales challenges my team and I face today. The STAR event included a LOT of intimate, collaborative and action packed conversations that generated ideas and take-a-ways that could be quickly implemented. On top of that, amazing new friendships were formed and there was great food and fun along with beautiful snow to play in!
I spoke with a few of my new friends from the event and came up with this consensus on the top take-aways to consider:
1. Connect to the Heart-Shari Levitin, CEO of Shari Levitin Group, advised that sales reps and leaders have a challenge in effectively connecting with the client. The only way to solve this challenge is to re-humanize the sales process by handling what technology CAN NOT handle. You have to lead your conversations with empathy by asking the heart type questions that will help you understand what matters most to the individual and/or his or her organization. Once you lead with empathy, you can easily tie your solutions and benefits to the customer’s pain points, which is where competency (product knowledge) comes in. Shari introduced us as well to the CALL Method: Connect, Ask, Listen and Link.
2. Don’t Just Talk about It! Take Action-Today, there is a lot of talk about how the sales industry needs to digitally transform to meet customer needs. A lot of organizations talk about it at great length but take very small steps (if any) in implementing changes to improve the customer experiences. Digital transformation is more of a cultural change than a technical change. If your company wants to transform the way they do business, it needs to go as deep as the culture goes, starting with the leadership team. Rakhi Voria, Former Chief of Staff at Microsoft, enlightened the crowd on how Microsoft leveraged AI to engage customers contextually and meet customer expectations at scale while still making interactions personal.
3. Closed, Lost Deals are Good for Business Strategy…Really! Sales teams capture quite a bit of data on winning deals which we ALWAYS celebrate, however there is typically a lot of data captured on lost deals as well that organizations do not do anything with, which can be critical to driving business strategy for your company. Bill Sexton, Vice President of Sales Operations, Systemax, gave an outstanding presentation on how to best capture both win/loss data that helps to provide clear insights to drive future sales strategy.
4. Millennials Vast Majority of Sales Workforce-Research shows that by 2025, Millennials will comprise 75% of the workforce. Soon after, it will be Generation Alpha (born between 2011-2025). The salesforce of the future is mobile first and has grown up chatting and not emailing. Toby Carrington, Senior Vice President and Head of Global Sales Operations, Siemens Healthcare, GmbH, presented a great case study on how they have designed sales training offerings that blend the old and new world workforces together.
5. Women in Sales Leadership-Cynthia Barnes, Founder and CEO of National Association of Women Sales Professionals, challenged the audience with questions about how organizations train men for sales management versus women. Do you train women based on tactical or emotional drivers? Are you altering the challenges for women in your organization? It was quite an eye opening conversation on the daily engagements, training and conversations with the opposite sex. Women are so often trained on confidence aspects, and organizations forget that woman may need the basic 101 management skills; with these skills they will gain confidence.
If you missed this event, you sure missed a great one! Mark your calendar for next year’s 3rd Annual Sales Team Alpine Retreat (STAR): A Frost & Sullivan Executive MindXchange taking place March 2-4, 2020. The location is currently being determined, so stay tuned!
In her current role as Director of Sales, Frost & Sullivan, Shawanda leads a team of sales professionals who work with clients to help them accelerate their growth objectives through the company’s research and advisory solutions in thirteen different industries. She has served in additional sales leadership roles at Frost & Sullivan, providing market research and consulting services to C-level executives within the financial services community. She also served as a Project Manager for the Manufacturing Leadership Council, a division of Frost & Sullivan.