At the Elevate 2018 conference, industry disruption took center stage. From changing buyer preferences to declining sales performance to emerging sales technology, it quickly became clear that the world of sales and service will never be the same.

All that disruption at once might feel intimidating, but keynote speaker Jeremy Gutsche put it in perspective at the start of our North America event in Scottsdale, Ariz. As a futurist and award-winning innovation expert, the founder of TrendHunter.com explained that chaos often causes organizations to stick with what they know. Companies are pre-wired to keep doing the same thing, he said, and have a tendency to become complacent, repetitive and protective.

As a result, organizations miss out on opportunities for innovation. But there’s actually no better time than a period of industry disruption to come up with new ideas, break the rules and take risks that push your organization to the next level.

This year’s Elevate conference presented plenty of opportunities to take advantage of the disruption happening in sales and service — and turn chaos into a competitive advantage. Here’s a recap of the conference highlights.

Sellers can’t keep up with buyers

Miller Heiman Group CEO Byron Matthews kicked off Elevate 2018 by telling the audience something they probably already feel but may not have realized: “Buyers are getting better at buying faster than sellers are getting better at selling.”

To keep up with today’s buyers, Matthews said selling models must modernize, including the solution selling approach pioneered by Miller Heiman Group. While solution selling isn’t dead, it must evolve so sellers will be able to add “perspective” to sales conversations instead of speaking only to identified needs. That means sellers must lead more than ever with valuable insights and expertise, a change that will be reflected in an updated version of the company’s Strategic Selling sales methodology training coming later this year.

When it comes to sales technology, the explosion in available tools on the market holds the potential to increase seller efficiency and improve sales performance. But often, Matthews said, sales tools instead turn sales reps into data clerks and only add to their administrative burden. That’s particularly true of CRMs, which are created with the manager rather than the seller in mind. The next-generation CRM will be built around the behavior of sellers, driven by AI and insights, and powered by proven sales methodology. Only then will sales technology reduce seller tedium.

Sales technology meets sales methodology

Building on the theme of sales technology, Chief Product Officer Dana Hamerschlag announced that Miller Heiman Group will release a new sales analytics platform later this year that collects data on the seller behavior that correlates to increased win rates. The SaaS platform will link sales technology with trusted Miller Heiman Group sales methodology to give sales managers and reps insights into the actions that will increase their odds of winning a deal.

Hamerschlag explained that most sales technology today focuses on backward-looking data that describes sales outcomes, but doesn’t prescribe seller actions. With so much sales technology on the market, sales organizations should invest in prescriptive tools that collect data around sales behaviors that drive results, and can be used to change deal outcomes and replicate winning strategies.

The new Miller Heiman Group platform will take the company’s iconic Blue Sheet and put it in the cloud, where data around seller actions can be analyzed for correlation to win rates. Resulting analytics can then be used to drive seller actions, change deal outcomes and replicate winning strategies. Augmented with artificial intelligence, the data can be used to predict seller actions that will move an opportunity down the sales funnel.  

Artificial intelligence will impact sales

During a panel discussion on artificial intelligence, CSO Insights co-founder Jim Dickie led a conversation with three industry experts who provided insights into how AI will impact the sales organization. Here are a few takeaways:

  • Roy Raanani, CEO and Co-founder at Chorus.ai, said artificial intelligence and AI hold the potential to act like a sales manager who has been involved in every deal and brings that collective insight into every opportunity. That kind of experience can’t be replicated by a single sales rep or manager.
  • Stephen Messer, CEO of Collective[i], explained that traditional retail and B2B sales are suffering declines because both insist on selling the way they want to sell, not selling based on what buyers want. He said the rest of the world realizes the importance of personalization, and B2B sellers must also realize that each buyer makes purchases in a unique, but consistent way that can be analyzed by AI.
  • Oleg Rogynskyy, CEO at People.ai, said most sales reps spend 20 percent of their time, or one day a week, on tasks that could be automated by artificial intelligence. AI can be a tool that increases efficiency so sales reps can spend more time on high-value tasks.

Sales enablement brings it all together

Seleste Lunsford, managing director of CSO Insights, brought many of the Elevate themes together with a presentation on the role sales enablement plays in aligning sales training, content, coaching and technology. By investing in sales enablement as a strategic, collaborative discipline, Lunsford said sellers can meet the changing needs of modern buyers.

The presentation included an overview of Miller Heiman Group’s Sales Force Enablement Clarity Model, which is outlined in a new book on sales enablement. Elevate attendees were the first to receive a copy of the book, which acts as a comprehensive guide showing sales leaders and sales enablement professionals how to build a sustainable discipline in their organizations.

Check out the presentations

If you missed Elevate 2018, you can download the following presentations on our conference recap page:

  • “The Future of Selling” by Byron Matthews, President and CEO of Miller Heiman Group
  • “The Importance of Tightly Linking Technology and Analytics with Sales Process” by Dana Hamerschlag, Chief Product Officer of Miller Heiman Group
  • “How AI is Already Turning How You Sell Into a Competitive Advantage” by Jim Dickie of CSO Insights and his panel of AI experts
  • “Bringing Clarity to Sales Enablement” by Seleste Lunsford, Managing Director of CSO Insights
  • “Five Reasons You’re Missing Quota” by Ray Smith, SVP of CallidusCloud and GM of Datahug
  • “An ROI on Human Capital” by Harry Dunklin and Mark Grimshaw of Miller Heiman Group

Up Next

Elevate 2018 Recap: Taking Advantage of Sales Industry Disruption

Elevate | April 25, 2018

Elevate 2018 Recap: Taking Advantage of Sales Industry Disruption

Elevate Preview: How Sales Enablement Helps Sales Organizations Adapt to Changing Business Buyers

Elevate | April 10, 2018

Elevate Preview: How Sales Enablement Helps Sales Organizations Adapt to Changing Business Buyers

4 Quotes from the Miller Heiman Group CEO to Prepare for Elevate 2018

Elevate | March 5, 2018

4 Quotes from the Miller Heiman Group CEO to Prepare for Elevate 2018