top-five-insights-shaping-the-future-of-sales-from-dreamforceThis year’s Dreamforce featured glitz, glamour, and a whole lot of Green Day. With 135,000 attendees, the scale and scope of the conference is truly mind-blowing.

Of course, we couldn’t let the week pass without trying to capture some of the wisdom shared by the many sales experts speaking at the event. Below you'll find our top five insights from Dreamforce 2013.

1) Customer service can't be clunky.

Amazon’s new Kindle Fire has a lot of cool features, but none trumps the “Mayday” button that allows users to receive help instantaneously from a live person. No reading through FAQs or searching the internet to locate a phone number -- you don’t even have to leave the app to get the help you need in real time.

What does this mean for sales folks? Well, it means people expect and anticipate that sales and services will adapt to the way they work and live -- and that consumer tolerance for clunky processes or failed customer experiences continues to diminish over time.

When considering your customer experience, think about the Mayday button: Do you make interactions seamless and easy for your prospects and leads? If not, adapt accordingly.

2) Always be helping.

Although Alec Baldwin was in attendance at Dreamforce, HubSpot’s own Mark Roberge noted that the Glengarry Glen Ross, “always-be-closing” edict is simply outdated. Instead, Roberge suggests replacing the conventional wisdom with “always be helping.”

The Glengarry approach worked well when salespeople harnessed all the power in the buying process, but now that customers have more control than ever over when, how, and where they buy, successful sales reps will deliver value at every turn, seeking to help prospects and leads unveil their challenges and identify solutions along the way.

In his Dreamforce talk, Roberge noted that sales reps should go the extra mile in being helpful, listening to specific challenges from prospects, and developing case studies, data, and context relevant to that individual note. Prospects want to feel that you are personally invested in helping them address their business challenges, so being a resource every step of the way is paramount. 

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Photo Credit: Rivalry

3) Being a customer company is no longer optional.

It used to be that some companies were more marketing-centric, while others were heavier on sales talent or deeply focused on engineering. In 2013, every company needs to be customer-obsessed, as social media and the internet have given customers more power than ever to demand (and get) what they want and deserve.

Here at HubSpot, we've been preaching SFTC: Solve for the Customer. To that end, Benioff’s keynote about the customer company was not just applicable for Salesforce or us, but for all of us. The customer experience must be built into every element of your organization, not just a focus group or afterthought.

4) Change the conversation.

Linda Richardson, author of Changing the Sales Conversation, discussed how the sales process has fundamentally changed.

Everyone knows that customers have access to far more information than ever, which results in sales reps getting involved much later in the buying process than they did 20 years ago. What people don’t always realize, however, is that prospects will come to you with information that is incorrect, outdated, or fed to them by a competitor.

To that end, Richardson emphasized how imperative it is that sales reps have the tools they need to create meaningful conversations, arming prospects with valuable insight that helps drive their business outcomes, and focus on what their organization truly needs. Salespeople who understand how to leverage social media to shape the sales process and how to leverage conversation game-changers to drive engagement will win the day in modern, inbound selling.

5) Have the right data at the right time.

Andy MacMillan, the SVP & GM of Data.com, used the product keynote to address a theme that’s top of mind for marketers and salespeople alike: data.

Every single one of us uses statistics and data to support our marketing and sales efforts, and with discussion of “big data” at every turn, it’s easy to become deluged with information overload. Your prospects and leads don’t care how much data you give them -- they care that it’s what MacMillan calls “the right data at the right moment.”

Giving your prospects the data they really want at the juncture when they really need it is paramount, and quality trumps quantity time and time again. This then leads to what MacMillan calls a surprisingly delightful experience.

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Those are the top insights we garnered from the week-long event. Have any additional insights you'd like to share? We'd love to hear them in the comments below!

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Originally published Nov 25, 2013 9:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017

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Sales Conferences