Communities — and not just the online varieties — seem to be in vogue. As our world changes, buying and selling practices evolve, and our jobs become harder and more competitive, Sales 2.0 leaders realize they don’t have all the answers — there is a lot to learn by looking outside one’s own company and comparing experiences with others.
The Telebusiness Alliance, a community of inside sales managers, was founded because of my own desire to connect with other managers whose teams sold by phone and Web. After I started Phone Works after a 10-year, nose-to-the-ground career at Oracle, I knew that to build a a successful consulting practice providing trusted advice, I had a lot to learn about how companies other than Oracle viewed and implemented inside sales. So 17 years ago, I called six inside sales managers at companies known for their inside sales prowess and invited them to join me for lunch at a local restaurant. I was eager to hear from my peers about their successes and challenges, how their departments fit into their companies’ overall sales strategies and how they approached key issues such as integrating with marketing and other sales channels, mapping to buying processes, finding good people, motivating them, measuring their performance, and enabling their productivity.
Today the Telebusiness Alliance has grown to almost 200 members in the San Francisco Bay Area, is led by a board of dedicated volunteers and meets every quarter to share industry best practices and provide support and mentoring. The group consists of noncompeting inside sales managers, running both quota-carrying and sales development/lead generating teams, who see value in discussing mutual business issues, both at meetings and online via our LinkedIn group. Perhaps because we manage inside functions, we especially welcome face-to-face gatherings, and the meetings are well-attended. Attendees come from the newest start-ups, as well as the who’s who of the valley, and everyone learns from each other.
Inside sales managers aren’t the only ones looking to learn from their peers. Last year, my longtime colleague, Phone Works General Manager Sally Duby, helped form the Silicon Valley VP of Sales Executives Forum to serve the needs of local chief sales officers. Sales operations managers can join their own special interest community, the Sales Operations Forum.
Inside sales managers, you can join our community at the next meeting of the Telebusiness Alliance on February 9 from 8:30 to noon in Redwood City, CA. We’ll be asking:
• What did you do to change behavior to increase productivity in 2009?
• What are you looking to implement to gain efficiencies in 2010?
• What are the top sales productivity tools you are using today or planning for tomorrow?
Do you have a local community for sharing ideas and best practices? What are the benefits of being part of a community?