What the VP of Sales Needs to do at Dreamforce

Erik W. Charles
Erik W. Charles
In Uncategorized
Erik Charles is the Vice President, Product Marketing, at Xactly Corporation where he is responsible for driving the product strategy, defining the product vision, and developing a strong team of product owners and designers.

Dreamforce is coming. The countdown is now down to a number of days, and the final arrangements are being made. I have been contacted by three different friends looking for a place to stay. My list of party invites is growing. There are a few talks I need to polish. I was talking to a client who runs sales for a growing software company, and her VP of sales said that he was going to the event to focus on closing deals.

Pushing deals along the pipeline, including the close, is still the #1 measurable activity at Dreamforce. I will go further and say that you needed to have started building for this awhile ago. Instead of paraphrasing, I recommend reading Ken Krogue’s post on Forbes for a strategy around setting meetings at Dreamforce (or any other show).

With that being said, there is still a lot more to do than just close business.

Hunt for new team members. A good trade show will be full of sales reps from other companies. If you are walking the floor and hear a well-delivered pitch, it is worth your time to listen. What a perfect way to see how someone acts in a real setting. Grab their card, and you have another potential closer to add to your team.

Check out the competition. Go to their sessions, walk by their booth, listen to their pitch, see their branding, and maybe even catch a demo. An open show gives you an opportunity to see how your competition is positioning themselves in the market. If they are pivoting, this is the time to learn more and be ready to respond.

See who is new in your ecosystem. Once again I harken back to Porter’s 5 Forces – you need to know about threats from New Entrants and Substitutes in your space. A big show like Dreamforce will reveal them. In this, don’t ignore the small kiosks in favor of the larger sponsors. Those new start-ups that have enough capital to come to Dreamforce will be your challengers or partners in the future. Build relationships with the companies that can be a solid partner – this is how we came together for Project Unite.

Live training of your sales team. Events are a time to see how your team thinks and responds on their feet. I listen in on opening statements, how reps describe products, and what they use as a hook in their show floor conversations. This lets me know in my role in Product Marketing where I need to focus sales training, and the VP of Sales will know who can handle the tough challenges in a live environment. I don’t wait for the end of the show, I take the time to talk to reps after every conversation to provide feedback and help them become a better representative of the company.

Keeping team members from being “that guy.” Dreamforce is also full of more open bars than I can count, and therein runs a risk. As your sales team is roaming the after-after parties you don’t want them going overboard while wearing your company t-shirt. Its 12:30AM – do you know where your sales team is?

Train yourself. Yes, you will be extremely busy and will never feel like you have a minute to breathe. However, Salesforce.com has set up an entire Sales Summit [https://www.salesforce.com/dreamforce/DF16/sales-summit/]. Pick at least ONE session to attend to build your own skills and knowledge. You can’t afford to fall behind, and this is a good chance to hone your craft.

See you in San Francisco.

 

 

 


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What the VP of Sales Needs to do at Dreamforce

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