Planning Your Plan for Dreamforce

Looking at the calendar, Dreamforce is fast approaching. Ah, another chance to gather together with 180,000 of my closest friends in San Francisco to explore where the world of sales is heading. To all my sales colleagues who will be in attendance, may I offer some advice; plan your plan now for what you really want to get out of this event.

Why bother stating that? Let me tell you what happens to me when I go to a Costco Wholesale Warehouse without a plan. The excitement starts to build as I show my membership card and walk in with my cart. Strategically, near the entrance are a whole slew of great deals on the left, and amazing electronics on the right, that get my creative shopping juices flowing. Then there are the deals on clothes, and books, and free food samples – definitely can’t pass them up! Then aisle after aisle of more amazing stuff tempting me until I get back to the front of the store to check out. And I walk out feeling exhilarated at scoring so many great deals; and that feeling lasts until I get home.

At home, reality sinks in as my wife gives me that “look” that questions my sanity. I then must explain why I felt compelled to buy a 50-gallon barrel of chicken liver pate, why, if a package of eight rolls of paper towels was a good idea then of course the package of 800 rolls has to be stupendous, and no I am not an idiot for buying a box of 30 different cat toys when we don’t even have a cat – although I can’t remember now why that was a good idea at the time.

This year’s Dreamforce promises to be like that – lots of amazing, innovative things to look at and learn about. But what should you take home? That is why a plan is so important. So, what does planning your plan entail? Start by taking some time to consider your sale process as it relates to your customer’s buying process. Where are areas that you clearly “need” to improve? Make a list. Now go through the list a second time and highlight the areas you “must” improve. That takes a little more work.

Often, when we consider candidates for sales transformation, we get caught up in the buzz of the marketplace. Today a hot topic is leveraging new tools, processes, and knowledge to fill the pipeline – more leads, more leads, more leads. Clearly, that is always an issue. But is that the only, or most compelling, problem to solve?

Let me share with you a metric from CSO Insights’ 2017 World-Class Sales Practices Report. In reviewing input from 1,200 sales professionals on the outcome of forecast deals, the average win rate came in at 47.3% Let that sink in for a moment. We have a sales forecast that, at a minimum, reflects the best judgment of a salesperson and his or her manager that a deal late in the sales process will close. And we are wrong more than half the time. That is a major problem, and if we only focus on pouring more leads in to a broken quote-to-close process, we will keep getting suboptimal results.

So, take the time to determine what areas you really must focus on improving prior to going to Dreamforce. Sure, look at some of the new innovations like AI, and yes, attend the parties and concerts. But when you come “home” from the event, come home with a prioritized list of things you must do now, to overcome must-solve challenges, to get prepared for hitting your number in 2018. That will generate the best ROI on your Dreamforce investment.

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