Rethinking Sales for the 21st Century. With Chris Ortolano [Episode 526]

Chris Ortolano, Sales Productivity Partner at Outbound Edge, and Chapter President of the AA-ISP in Portland, Oregon, joins me on this episode.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

Chris thinks the biggest challenge facing sales reps is being overwhelmed with information, with no opportunity to classify it into knowledge. Chris suggests contexts for learning and memorizing.

Chris describes a sales rep today: one part politician, one part tango dancer, and one part air traffic controller.

Chris started Sales Stack, a free forum for practitioners and leaders to create a learning community. Topics are sales technology, metrics, and outcomes.

Many threads in sales forums are on technology and technique more than the buyer. Chris has interviewed customers to collect stories about the digital buyer journey.

Chris discusses trends of building relationships and discovery skills in SaaS, with examples of companies creating academy models of training.

Sales requires a person talking to another person. Technology should make that moment as effective as possible. Chris introduces a five-part framework for thinking about how to talk to buyers. Sales is a craft to practice.

Middle performers have potential to improve, and it would help for management to invest in their development. Chris calls the current ‘hire-to-fire’ model archaic.

Many VPs moved up the ranks that way, and they make the decisions. A few companies realize that knowledge is a powerful fulcrum, and they can ‘train to retain.’

Chris details his beliefs about sales productivity. There is still no scientific metric for it. Balance sheets ignore talent. Salespeople are knowledge workers.

Data always has a story. If we allow cognitive bias to interpret it, we miss the point. Silos limit the modern organization. Knowledge needs to be shared in companies.

Chris explores how sales could be reimagined within the company. Onboarding needs to include business knowledge from all departments, on top of domain expertise.

Chris’ five-part framework for rethinking sales is: Curiosity, Collaboration, Commitment, Communication skills, and Change.