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What I Learned at Dinner with a Top IBM Sales Executive That You Should Know, Too

What I Learned at Dinner with a Top IBM Sales Executive That You Should Know, Too

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I work in a crazy industry. And if you work in advertising or digital marketing, you know what I’m talking about. It’s nuts.

Oh, sure, there are some great things about this business — you’re constantly learning new things, you get to help others grow their business, and you get to work with smart, colorful people.

But one not-so-great thing about this industry is that I need to replace about 30% of my revenues each year just to have 0% growth.

How can that be?

Well, in any given year, about 1/3rd of an advertising agency’s clients leave the agency, cut their budgets or go out of business. So each year, I have to replace the 1/3rd of my revenue just to be break even.

See? Crazy.

I’m Not the Only One Who Has to Keep the Sales Pipeline Full to Stay in Business.

In fact, if you work in software, healthcare, insurance, or just about any other B2B company, you know what I’m talking about. In any given year, a certain percentage of your business walks out the door, and in order to grow, you have to replace that business (and then some).

So, what does all this have to do with having dinner with a top IBM sales executive?

As you know, IBM hires the best and the brightest in their field. They also provide some of the best sales training in the world. So when I found myself having dinner with one of their top sales people, I figured I could learn a thing or two.

We spent most of the evening talking about the IBM brand, their messaging strategy and their sales process. We also talked about their business strategy, their perspectives on the marketplace and even some of the well-documented blunders the company had made over the decade.

But when we talked about the IBM sales process, I was surprised by the simplicity of their approach. Yes, they had some bells and whistles that I hadn’t thought of. And yes, they had a massive team of very smart people hunting down new business all the time. But the one thing that this top executive kept mentioning throughout the dinner is something that you and I have easy access to, if we set our minds to it.

And that something is discipline.

IBM’s Secret Weapon is That They’re Incredibly Disciplined About Staying on Task.

In a sense, I was pleasantly surprised that this top IBM sales executive didn’t need an expensive gadget or technology to make his system work. All he needed were a few basic tools and the discipline to consistently use those tools day in and day out.

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I have discipline. So do you. And with a few simple tools to keep us on task, we can probably do a much better job keeping our sales pipeline full.

So, with that in mind, I did some homework on the essential tools I need to keep my business humming. What follows are 3 of my favorites which are designed to 1) improve my efficiency, 2) streamline my sales and marketing process, and 3) systematize my approach to keeping the pipeline full.

Ready? Here goes:

Act-On Software: I first got to know Act-On when they sponsored our sister blog called the 60 Second Marketer. Over the course of time, I’ve grown to love the simplicity and power that their marketing automation platform brings to the table.

Would you like to manage, measure, customize and optimize your lead generation campaigns? Do you want to track the results of your online marketing efforts in order to figure out what’s working and what’s not working? If so, then you’ll want to take a spin through the Act-On platform, which is designed to do all that and more.

(Side note: I recently wrote an e-book for Act-On called Likes Are Great, Leads Are Better. It covers several important topics, most notably how to turn social media engagement into revenue for your business.)

Oktopost: I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been satisfied with Hootsuite. Even though I paid extra for the Pro version, it didn’t seem as though it had everything I needed. So, I did some exploring and got in touch with the folks at Oktopost.

Oktopost has everything Hootsuite has, and then some. The analytics are better and the campaign management is better. Best of all, the online dashboard is clean, crisp and easy-to-use, which is a big plus in my book.

If you’re ready to take your social media management up a notch, check out Oktopost. I liked it so much, I dumped Hootsuite and switched over permanently.

SalesLoft: What Act-On does for marketing, SalesLoft does for sales. Their platform is designed to provide B2B sales teams everything they need to 1) track down prospects, 2) engage those prospects via email or voice mail, and 3) nurture those prospects through the sales funnel.

If you’re business relies on a dedicated sales team for outbound prospecting, and you’re looking for a platform that will keep your sales team on-task with a specific set of goals and benchmarks, you’ll want to take a spin through the SalesLoft platform. It’s a great platform for businesses that really want to take their sales prospecting methodology to the next level.

The Bottom Line:

In the end, what my friend from IBM taught me was that you don’t need big, expensive tools in order to keep the sales funnel full. All you need are a few reasonably-priced tools that can facilitate the process along with a heavy dose of discipline to stay on task.

If you have those two things — tools and discipline — you can make significant impact on your business and your career.

I’ve covered 3 of my favorite tools in this post. Did I miss any? What are your favorite tools you use in your sales and marketing program?

Jamie Turner is the CEO of the 60 Second Marketer and 60 Second Communications, an Atlanta-based advertising agency and digital marketing firm that works with national and international brands. He is the co-author of “How to Make Money with Social Media” and “Go Mobile” and is a popular marketing speaker at events, trade shows and corporations around the globe.

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Comments ( 2 )
    • Josh Rhodes says:

      Great Post. Very Helpful. I personally liked Aerolead for it’s real time leads and then it has free trial. Getting leads and then tracking them is the most difficult task in sales. If we are getting such a great tool for free then it’s really commendable.

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