Best Practices

Recession, Social Media, Technology Forever Changed Sales, Say Local Experts

Christopher Tuttle

XANT President Ken Krogue joined a panel of sales experts yesterday at the Great Salt Lake Business Expo in Sandy to discuss “Sales Superstars.” Tyler Dabo, publisher of Utah Business magazine moderated the discussion that also included representatives from salesforce.com, Snapp Conner PR, Griffin Hill, Coldwell Banker Commercial and Kisstixx.

Here are some of the topics discussed and what Ken had to say:

Where does your business stand now vs. in 2007-08 when the recession hit?

“XANT is at about 14 times more revenue than we were in 2007 and the inside sales industry is the fastest growing segment in all of sales and marketing. Traditional sales slowed to a halt and inside sales grew 15 times faster during those early years right after the crash. A recent study was just done two months ago, and now it’s only growing 300 percent faster. So outside sales is coming back some, but the whole industry of inside sales is still really going crazy.”

How do you use social media in sales?

“LinkedIn is the most powerful tool ever invented for sales. Look up in LinkedIn what companies a customer knows before you ask them for a referral. That way, when they draw a blank, you can help remind them. That tool changes the world with referrals. You can also go to LinkedIn to find three things in 30 seconds to talk to a prospect about, then go to Facebook and find their hobbies and where their heart resides. Then use Twitter to amplify the whole process.

“But the up-and-coming secret weapon is Google. Google is about key words. They have the most powerful search engine on the planet and they cheat. They are going to make sure that if you mention something as a Google author or with Google+ that you will rank higher than anyone else. Figure out Google to be sure you rank well in the next search engines.”

What technology tools are you using for sales?

“Salesforce.com became the CRM platform when they put it in the cloud and brought enterprise-class tools down to the small business. That’s where the whole revolution happened. XANT took telephony tools and dialing technology and embedded it in Salesforce. We are a lot like an Ironman suit for salespeople. We help normal human beings have the power of tools and they see a 5-13 times improvement in what a single person can do. That’s super hero status. That’s what technology does.

“It wasn’t the telephone that leveraged inside sales — that is what started telemarketing. What made inside sales an industry was web conferencing — the ability to project a demonstration of what you do live in front of someone without ever going face-to-face. That was the horsepower that changed the world of sales.”

How are you a “sales rockstar”? What separates you from the rest?

“The old adage is always listen to your customers, but the inside sales space is so new that when we went out and tried to listen to them they said, `Well, we’re listening to you.’ We realize that the way we can differentiate ourselves is by doing the research to find out what the numbers really say about the hard questions. A study we did with MIT that answered how fast you need to respond to your leads surprised us and surprised the industry. We’ve had 190,000 companies download that research.”

Is sales still relationship based?

“Relationships of credibility and trust are stronger than ever, but the old-school relationship of loyalty is gone. Social media killed it. Now people want real comments, they want reality and they want to be able to trust what you say.

“There was an incredible book that came out a year ago November called The Challenger Sale. It completely changed the paradigm of sales. They surveyed 6,000 salespeople and broke them into five groups. The group based on relationship selling did the absolute worst. Relationship selling used to be about let me give you some Jazz tickets, let me take you to dinner, and then I’ll pull on your loyalty. Loyalty is not trust. Loyalty is ‘you owe me now that I did something nice for you’ and those days are gone. Trust is the key. Trust is the waiter that tells you that you don’t want to get the chicken when you say that’s what you are thinking. They are willing to tell you `no’ for your own good. They know more than you do and you can trust in the outcome. They will challenge you.”

What are the trends that you see in sales?

“Gamification is a trend that is really hitting hard. It started here with an author in our own community, Charles Coonradt, years ago who wrote the book The Game of Work, which I highly recommend.” Click here to see what XANT CEO Dave Elkington had to say about gamification in a recent Deseret News article.

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