Anneke Seley is our first interview in the series. Anneke Seley was the twelfth employee at Oracle and the designer of the company’s revolutionary inside-sales operation. She is currently the CEO and founder of Phone Works, a consultancy that helps large and small businesses build and restructure sales teams to achieve predictable, measurable, and sustainable sales growth. Her book, “Sales 2.0: Improve Business Results Using Innovative Sales Practices and Technology,” is available at online retailers. For more information, visit www.sales20book.com.
Everywhere you go in Silicon Valley, people know Phone Works. In my eyes they have evolved their messaging to the point that they are directly associated with the Sales 2.0 movement. I am excited to have them involved in the Funnel Thought Leadership Interview series.
1. What are the three trends you see emerging in 2009?
- Proliferation of Sales 2.0 — the use of innovative sales practices enabled by technology that creates value for both the buyer and seller.
- More focus on measurable, predictable selling and lowering cost of sales.
- Strengthening of customer relationships and alignment with buyer preferences.
2. What are the biggest challenges for 2009?
- Finding new customers with budget and resources this quarter.
- Keeping sales teams motivated.
- Getting creative and strategic when it’s necessary to do more with less.
3. What are three metrics that b2b marketers should care about and why?
- The number of qualified leads they are adding to pipeline weekly/monthly/quarterly. Volume is important, but numbers alone won’t help sales make its numbers.
- ROI on marketing investments (best sources of qualified leads) to drive future investments in the most effective programs and avoid spending money on ineffective programs
- Conversion rates from qualified-lead stage to future stages such as opportunity and close. To align marketing goals with sales objectives, leads should be tracked all the way through the sales cycle. Compensating marketing for generating leads that turn into revenue strengthens this alignment.
4. What are the top oversights marketers are making regarding lead generation?
- Not measuring quality or conversion from lead to close.
- Not communicating with sales on what constitutes a “qualified lead” or “target prospect”
- Under-investing/not understanding volumes of qualified leads needed in the pipeline for sales to make its numbers.
5. What will you prescribe to marketers to carry out effective lead generation?
- We design sales processes that clearly indicate the volume of qualified leads required for revenue objectives to be met.
- We work with marketing to define target prospects, lead-rating criteria and lead-qualification processes and establish sales development functions to track demand-generation program effectiveness as well as effectiveness of marketing messages, positioning, pricing, lists and offers.
- We recommend marketing automation tools that can accelerate the sales process and test the results of those tools with pilot programs.
6. What three Web 2.0 applications, cutting-edge technologies or lead-generation sources do marketers HAVE to consider to be successful?
If forced to pick only three, I would pick a well-designed, easy-to-use, expandable CRM as the foundation, a great contact list/data source that is well-maintained and accurate, and sales analytics tools to facilitate sales process measurement. But there are many other effective tools that help engage or qualify customers online, accelerate the process of connecting with them live, shorten the contracts cycle, and so on.
In order to pick the best technology for you, first establish a sales process to track and measure your sales steps consistently to understand where the selling cycle is stalling or sales challenges are occurring. Only then can you determine which tools can have the most impact for your company.
7. What do you hope for in b2b sales and marketing for the new year?
- Close communication and collaboration — with each other as well as with customers and prospects.
- Changing mindset to embrace Sales 2.0 and the science of predictable selling.
- Staying positive, optimistic and creative!