I had a great time at the Sales 2.0 Conference in San Francisco earlier this week. In a lot of ways it reminded me of my high school friend’s father, he was a nice enough guy, but he had a thing for the song from Casablanca “As time goes by”. He would collect as many different renditions as possible; he had the original, the Frank Sinatra version, Tony Bennett, all the instrumentals, even the Tom Jones cover. While I had no particular favourite, at the end they were all pretty much rooted in the original, some were more adventurous, some were straight up, but at the end they were all “As Time Goes By”, and left you wanting to heat the original by “Sam” Dooley Wilson.
There were some great ideas, great products, and in many ways a return to basics: execution. Much of the focus on execution was aimed at lead origination, nurturing and conversion. While some of this pointed to automation, and integration of marketing and sales, at the end the discussion always came back to execution.
There is no denying that technology has enabled companies to think bigger and wider and achieve bigger and wider. There is no arguing with the data presented that those using up to date tools achieve more and can go farther and faster than those stuck in the past (2002). But it was also clear that many of these companies succeeded as a result of leadership, discipline and hard work. Much of the labels or handles used have been used in the past. Collaboration, a true pillar of success, we heard it in the early 90’s when Lotus Notes was introduced, we heard with portals in Web 1.0, and we are hearing it now, and for good reason, it lifts the successful companies from the pack.
The best presentation by far during the two days again confirmed that Sales 2.0 is much more about evolution than revolution, progressive evolution. Jeffrey Hayzlett, CMO and VP of Eastman Kodak Company, showed that while Sales 2.0 tools are key to accelerating their turn around success, but the real story the reason for success was based on balls, sweat and tears and a singular focus on execution.
Please don’t get me wrong, this is not a condemnation of Sales 2.0, would say it is a validation, that a plan, in the right hands, given the right people will go much further and faster given the right tools. But those same tools in the hands of the wrong person or team will get them no where.
In the end, literally, it came down to sales ability and enablement, a celebration of the sales person as an artist. With all the science, success still comes from mastering the art. To paraphrase something bit of the closing address: “A good sales person can accomplish a lot more with his craft than 100 software programs”.
What’s in Your Pipeline?