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Last week I travelled to Chicago for the latest (roughly quarterly) installment of the Sales 2.0 Conference. As a member of the self-coined Sales 2.0 Mafia, I was at first concerned that maybe the sustained RICO violations that the city is known for had affected the event. First off, getting local VPs of Sales and/or Marketing to attend was more challenging than at previous shows in San Francisco and Boston. All the sponsors and other “made” folks were there (Nigel Edelshain, Anneke Seley, Mike Damphousse, etc), but the CRM dons were conspicuously absent. The inherent inconsistency of the sponsored customer pitches was typical- each 10 minute opening is only as good as the speaker (although the Q&A panels are always solid). Given the relative lack of bright eyes in the audience and buzz in the networking area, by 11AM I was worrying that maybe the Sales 2.0 mantra of Accelerate Sales-Align (Sales, Lead Generation and Marketing) Process-Achieve Productivity might be on the wane.ut that must have been my Morton’s meat and brown booze hangover talking, because by 1PM my attitude had considerably improved. At lunchtime, the tables were filled with engaged execs loudly talking about their own challenges with revenue, ROI, social networking, productivity. The three representatives that were working the Jigsaw sponsored area (all under 30- ran me ragged at night) reported back with great activity and interest at the booth. In fact, we have already engaged with at least 10 enterprise leads and partner initiatives. David Thompson’s decision to allow cocktails to be served in the last Social Networking session starting at 3:45 was a stroke of pure brilliance. Maybe it was the social lubricant working its magic, but when I walked out as one of the last people around 7 PM I was completely jazzed with renewed excitement for the topic and had a list of follow-ups a mile long.
A quick review of some of the highlights in the presented content (minus the sponsored stuff- just assume the Jigsaw presentation by AdGooRoo was awesome and everyone else was so-so… yeah, I’m objective):
Intro: Gerhard Gschwandtner, dressed to the nines as usual, stating that “print is dead” based on a show of hands of about 4 sleepy people that they no longer read the newspaper. David Thompson exclaimed the Sesame Street word for the day, “alignment.” Sales with marketing, vendors with customers, sales with buying process…
Keynote: Lee Levitt said all the right words about “disqualification” of poor opportunities that waste the salesperson’s time and avoiding falling into selling pre-canned “solutions” to non-existent customer problems, but somewhere he lost the charisma that he must have embodied in order to have successfully sold stereo equipment door- to- door and other impressive experiences. A Des Moines joke fell lead balloon flat with a Mid Western audience.
HP’s Kevin Hooper spoke about how they leverage Sales 2.0 and particularly for a small company guy like me it was amazing in scale and delivery. It might have been his fancy British accent, but his meticulous attention to metrics and “Selling through Curiosity” message really hit a cord with me. And the staggering improvements in terms of revenue by simply asking open ended questions and really being interested in customer motivations for purchases “walked the walk.”
Social Networking: Anneke Seley (wrote Sales 2.0 reference guide) and Nigel Edelshain (invented the term Sales 2.0, owns URL) were at their usual best, but Kevin Popovic stole the entire show. His George Michael (think Wham! days) look and incredible passion caught my (and everyone for a city block’s) attention immediately, but his utter command of the material and snazzy examples and results made him the highlight of the Conference. Bravo- crazy man.
All in all, another enjoyable and worthwhile event. I look forward to the next one in March 8-9 in San Francisco.