• The second day of SiriusDecisions’ Sales Leadership Exchange offered participants a deeper dive into B2B sales trends
  • Jim Ninivaggi and Sharon Little explained why onboarding sales productivity measurements fall short
  • Mark Levinson and Steve Silver discussed sales technology and why deploying more tools isn’t always better

After Wednesday’s inspiring keynote address and a first look at some fresh new data on the state of B2B sales organizations, attendees at the 2015 SiriusDecisions Sales Leadership Exchange (SLE) were eager to take a deeper dive on the event’s busy second day.

Thursday kicked off with a networking breakfast and a brief welcome from Colleen Honan, followed by a presentation on sales onboarding – a critical issue for any organization that expects to growth.

Presenters Jim Ninivaggi and Sharon Little explained why typical onboarding productivity measurements – the revenue that a new sales rep produces and his or her time to first deal – fall short. The SiriusDecisions Sales Onboarding Effectiveness and Efficiency Model takes a much more comprehensive approach. Organizations create a dashboard that tracks reps’ progress in multiple areas and, in turn, helps evaluate onboarding programs themselves.

Next, attendees enjoyed the first of several guest presentations. Lee Cooper, vice president of global sales and marketing at GE Energy Management, recounted his organization’s story of applying a “culture of commercial intensity.” Through a multifaceted approach – including improving sales teams’ skills and increasing visibility of metrics ­– GE Energy Management delivered impressive results in a challenging growth environment.

After a quick networking break, Mark Levinson and Steve Silver took the stage to present on sales technology. As they explained, deploying more tools isn’t always better, and investing in the latest and greatest technology that promises dazzling revenue growth and productivity improvements is not always a sound choice.

Understanding the full business value and user value of any potential technology purchase is essential. Mark and Steve recommended taking into account the tool’s criticality, utilization and integration to evaluate its business value, then considering stakeholders and engagement to determine user value.

The day’s second guest presentation featured Todd Cione, chief revenue officer at Rackspace, who described how the organization has significantly improved its revenue efficiency. Sales enablement initiatives – including a wealth of community resources, competency frameworks for various roles, and additional development for sales managers – played a major role.

Selling through the channel introduces a whole host of new sales challenges. The SLE’s next presentation, titled “Growth Pillars: Choosing the Ideal Third-Party Approach,” began with a startling statistic: Eighty percent of channel partners are not productive.

How can organizations recruit partners that adequately contribute to their growth objectives?  Presenters Laz Gonzalez and Stephanie Sissler laid out the steps in a four-phase framework for defining routes to market and getting the right partners on board.

The newly unveiled SiriusDecisions Routes-to-Market Decision Framework walks partners through conducting a situational needs assessment, performing a target customer needs analysis, defining the ideal partner profile and, finally, determining the need for distributors.

In the software industry, the massive shift under way from license-revenue models to subscription-based software-as-a-service models has affected suppliers and partners alike. Sal Patalano, VP marketing, global partner organization, at CA Technologies, examined the myriad impacts during his guest presentation.

Finally, attendees revisited the theme of Intelligent Growth one last time during the SLE’s closing presentation. Event co-chairs Jim Ninivaggi, Mark Levinson and Laz Gonzalez returned to the stage to reveal a growth-minded playbook for CSOs. The most important thing? Change.

Whether organizations plan to reach growth targets through new buyers, new markets, new offerings, increased productivity or acquisitions, transformational change is inevitable, and every team member must commit: Sales leadership needs to ensure organizational readiness. Sales enablement may need to “re-onboard existing reps.” Channel partner fit may need to be adjusted. Reps may need to revamp their conversations with buyers.

Refreshed with the wealth of new ideas presented at the SLE and perhaps rejuvenated by the beautiful conference setting, attendees headed home. Of course, now the real work begins. Jim says he is optimistic about the delegates’ abilities to put their new insights into practice and improve their sales organizations.

“We can’t wait for next year’s SLE,” he says. “We hope all the companies in attendance this year will achieve their growth goals and come back even bigger in 2016.”