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Sales 3.0 — The Future of Sales Will Require Sales Enablement

Posted in:  Sales and Marketing Management, Sales Enablement Strategy

Last week, Highspot attended Sales 3.0 in San Francisco. For those that don’t know, Sales 3.0 is a long running — and evolving — conference run by Gerhard Gschwandtner, the founder and CEO of Selling Power. It’s devoted to introducing B2B sales leaders to sales technologies, trends, and strategies to produce increased revenue and improved sales performance, and it delivered hugely this year!

gerhard gschwandtner

Photo of Gerhard Gschwandtner kicking off Sales 3.0

According to Gerhard, Sales 1.0 was about hustle. Sales 2.0 was when everything went online and became a science. And now, Sales 3.0 centers around the app explosion (think Salesforce App Exchange) and the inclusion of artificial intelligence (AI) in all aspects of our lives, while balancing technology with our innate human qualities.

This was my first time participating in Sales 3.0, but it won’t be my last. What a great, empowering, and educational two days! There were invaluable insights from so many thought leaders, including:

  • Alice Heiman, Founder & Chief Sales Officer, Alice Heiman, LLC
  • Jim Dion, Director, Belief Based Selling, Partners in Leadership
  • Jeffrey Hayzlett, Chairman, Primetime TV and Radio Host, C-Suite Network
  • Jeb Blount, CEO, Sales Gravy
  • Jeff Gadway, Director of Product Marketing, Vidyard
  • Jill Rowley, Social Selling Strategist & Startup Advisor, #SocialSelling
  • Roderick Jefferson, Vice President, Global Sales & Partner Enablement, Marketo

While I unfortunately didn’t get to catch all the sessions, here are key takeaways and highlights from some of my favorite moments at Sales 3.0.

The Future of Sales: Disrupt, Align, and Connect to Your Customer’s Journey

Jamie Anderson, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer at SAP Hybris, taught us how to deconstruct the customer journey, turn the sales funnel upside down, and break through the siloed organizations by redefining the roles of sales and marketing.

Jamie nailed it with his sentiment that engagement sets people apart in the digital economy — you must put the customer at the center of everything you do to succeed. He also emphasized something we know all too well at Highspot — sales and marketing alignment are crucial for business agility, particularly in a world where customers are harder to engage than ever. Perhaps the most impactful point from Jamie is that every channel is a service channel. That means even your social media handles are opportunities for conversations with customers.

future of sales

AI and the Future of Selling

Greg Kaplan, Chief Revenue Officer at Bluewolf (an IBM Company), shared the ways in which AI is fundamentally changing how companies sell and go to market.

The fact is that companies are using increasingly sophisticated artificial intelligence — like IBM Watson and Salesforce Einstein — to more closely connect with their customers and deliver the simple, personal experiences they demand.

It’s impossible (at least for me) to make it through a day without some mention of AI — it’s becoming that pervasive and is at the bleeding edge of the digital transformation. And yet, only 27% of sales executives believe digital transformation is a matter of survival. We can’t ignore it and pretend like it doesn’t exist, because it does, and AI with regards to data is incredibly empowering — it can help sales make sense of data to target the right customers and speed up the sales cycle. I like how Greg referenced this approach as man and machine working together.

“Augmented Intelligence: Where a machine helps to make a more human experience. No Skynet here.” –Greg Kaplan

Greg also emphasized that while it’s an important tool in the seller’s tool bag, AI alone is not enough to help sell and engage customers. Empathy is key (which aligns to Gerhard’s point above about balancing technology with humanity). The customer is on a journey with and it’s the seller’s role to join that journey and deliver what the customer needs and wants.

ai and the future of selling

The Rise of Sales Enablement

This panel was my favorite — I have a soft spot for sales enablement, after all — and it was stacked with world-class sales enablement professionals.

rise of sales enablement

Moderated by Gerhard Gschwandtner, panelists included Roderick Jefferson, Vice President, Global Sales & Partner Enablement at Marketo; Jeff Gadway, Director of Product Marketing at Vidyard; and Sheevaun Thatcher, Head of Sales Enablement and Training at RingCentral.

It wouldn’t be a sales enablement discussion without some time spent defining its purpose, and the group noted that sales enablement should encompass leadership, value sharing, alignment, and support for strategy, accessible content, and sharing of best practices (AKA tribal knowledge).

Jeff Gadway made an important point that sales enablement is everyone’s responsibility.

“It’s all of our jobs to ensure that the sales people can go out and close deals.”

The panel agreed that AI and machine learning won’t replace face-to-face conversations with customers, but it can help identify the right tools to use (a common thread of the conference).

Jill Rowley wasn’t on this panel, but maybe she should have been, because she noted in her session that sales enablement is how you grow revenue by doing things better, instead of doing more things. I think this is absolutely true, and those who excel at sales enablement have figured out this distinction.

Thanks to everyone who came by and saw us at Sales 3.0, and to everyone who participated to make this a memorable event!

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