Executives from two top organizations, Olono, and Vengreso, recently attended the first Sales Team Alpine Retreat: A Frost & Sullivan Executive MindXchange. Read on as they share their key take-aways and experiences from the event.
When you head to a conference for the first time, there’s typically a lot of hype. The question is, will it live up to expectations?
Recently our team joined sales leaders at the Frost & Sullivan Sales Team Alpine Retreat (STAR Event). The event theme was “Building Peak Performing Sales Organizations: The People, The Processes, and The Technology” and the discussion was right on the money, focusing on real issues faced by those truly in the trenches.
Sure we all love a good visionary TED Talk, but the reality is we were there to get down to business. To solve problems. To discuss conflicts. And to leave with calls to action. And that’s exactly what we did.
First, I want to thank Frost & Sullivan for a great event. They proved there’s tremendous value in treating sponsors and attendees as peers. Our badges were the same, as were our opportunities to learn, ask and share with each other. Vendors were respectful of the goals of the event, contributing to the discussion without being self-promotional. Though in some cases, vendors were best equipped to offer solutions to challenges because it’s their business to be very in tune with key trends and technology across the sales landscape, supporting a variety of companies in multiple industries.
When we look at the topics that were discussed, one thing was clear. It was incredible how consistent and common the top 3-4 issues were, regardless of whether the person sharing was coming from the perspective of sales management, sales ops or sales reps. The same challenges spanned industry and company size and included:
- The never-ending data-entry cycle. Sales management requires reps log the details about their deals in their CRM. Every meeting, every phone call, every contact. Reps hate entering the data. They only do it when required, typically right before a report is being pulled or a meeting with their manager. They enter the bare minimum. The manager gets limited insight, if any at all, into the current status of the deal. And then they require conversations to make their forecast, because the data in the CRM isn’t worth much. And then the cycle starts again. No one likes it, but they keep it up, because it’s how it’s always been.
- Technology alone won’t improve sales effectiveness. There are 400+ SalesTech solutions, but without processes and training, they simply won’t improve effectiveness. It doesn’t matter how great the marketing spin is, or how slick the UI is, successful adoption and results require tying the new tools to existing processes and ensuring it works well with every other action in your buyer’s journey.
- A forecast is just a number. Sure there’s a need to be as accurate as possible. But even more important than that “number” a sales pro is predicting, is how to improve it during the quarter—rather than trying to explain it after the fact. Think about a weather “forecast.” Is it more important to know the hurricane is likely to hit your city or to know the steps to keep you and your family safe? If it’s me, I want to know how to board my house, which stores have supplies still in stock, what gas stations have gas, and what route I should take to get my family out of the path. The forecast sounds great, but the reality is it’s an educated vision, and not something that changes the top line.
It was a great few days full of engaging discussion that will set a great tone as we look ahead and work to solve real challenges across the B2B sales community.
The founding members of Vengreso share what they’ll remember most about the event and their overall experience:
Kurt Shaver – Chief Sales Officer
Cate Gutowski, Vice President of Digital Sales Transformation at GE Digital, delivered the opening keynote presentation. She described how her team of 8 transformed over 30,000 GE employees into modern sellers in less than 2 years. If a 125-year old industrial manufacturer can make the digital sales transformation movement a reality, shouldn’t all companies be capable of doing it?
Viveka von Rosen – Chief Visibility Officer
I found it interesting that almost every speaker mentioned being inspired by Simon Sinek’s “Start With Why.”The fact that there was such a deep emphasis on the “why’s” of the sales profession – not just making money and meeting quota – was eye-opening.Hearing what motivated the people at this event, and how passionate they are about the sales profession was very inspiring to me.
Brynne Tillman – Chief Learning Officer
To be a good sales manager you have to be a great coach. It’s imperative for sales managers to create a safe environment where reps can be vulnerable and not afraid of failure on their journey to success. So, when their sales leader is a coach – who guidesthem to meet their goals, rather than demands it, everyone wins.
Bernie Borges – Chief Marketing Officer
The format of the Frost & Sullivan Sales Team Alpine Retreat is brilliant. Participants never experience the same format from one session to another session. The range of session formats includes keynotes, panel sessions, workshops, table topics, briefing sessions, “speed dating” (don’t worry, it’s a metaphor) and even a friendly Olympic competition. The sponsors are peer level participants throughout the event.
Mario Martinez Jr. – Chief Executive Officer
When I first spoke with Gary Robbins, Partner – Global Brand and Demand Solutions at Frost & Sullivan, about the Sales Team Alpine Retreat I was immediately enthusiastic about it. I was excited to have Vengreso participate. Frost & Sullivan’s 20 year track record of putting on events for professionals in other disciplines gave me the confidence that the first event focused on sales leadership would be a home run. The content did not disappoint and neither did the business development aspects of the event. The Vengreso founders were active participants. We met with many sales leaders who scheduled meetings with us to continue conversations we started at STAR.
If you’re in sales leadership, the Frost & Sullivan Sales Team Alpine retreat is a must attend event to hone your strategies and to build long lasting relationships with your peers. Vengreso will definitely participate in this event again.