DreamforceTradeshowGet out of your office to reignite your passions.

If we’re not learning, we’re dead. I didn’t coin that phrase, but that’s my belief. Learning is exciting and transforming. That’s one of the key reasons I’ve attended Dreamforce for the past three years—last year as a guest blogger for Salesforce.com and this year as a speaker.

My Greatest Inspirations

If you didn’t make it to San Francisco for the big event, you can listen to all the keynotes online. Here are a few of my favorite highlights:

  • Hillary Clinton discussed brain science and why parents need to talk, read, and sing to their children. Even if you can’t carry a tune, vocalizing to children helps build their vocabulary and learning capacity. In middle-class neighborhoods, the average child has 13 books. In a low-income neighborhood, there is one book for every 300 kids, so they learn 30 million fewer words. This word gap often turns into an achievement gap, which has lifelong consequences.
  • The philanthropy of Marc and Lynne Benioff and Salesforce.com is mind-boggling. Those of us in the Bay Area have always known about their incredible generosity, but now the world knows.  Salesforce gives 1 percent of its equity, employee time, and products to support nonprofit activities. The Benioffs have donated more than $200 million to the Benioff Children’s Hospitals in the Bay Area. And they’ve given millions of dollars to San Francisco schools to help integrate technology into classrooms. “I don’t think there’s anything more important than our children’s health and education,” Benioff told the Dreamforce audience.
  • Marc also spoke about the imperative to connect. He asked if we’re all connected to our customers and explained how doing so helps sales professionals engage and build one-on-one relationships with buyers. We’re only limited by our own ideas, not by technology.
  • Eckhart Tolle and Arianna Huffington talked about living in the moment, experiencing the now, and not missing out on what’s happening in the future because you’re already thinking about where you need to be next.  It’s good to have goals for the future, but we must also focus on the aliveness of the present moment and acknowledge how vital that is.

My Greatest Learning Nuggets

Dreamforce is not a sales conference. It’s a technology conference. However, this year there was a sales track. InsideSales.com has on-demand videos of all the highlights. Registration is easy, and the segments are short. (Click here to register.)

Be sure to check out my presentation—“Harness the Power of Referrals to Pack Your Pipeline.” Plus, here’s what I learned from some of my colleagues about increasing sales effectiveness:

  • Jill Konrath says we need to think, really think. Companies with agile learners will excel. New hires will get up to speed in record time, and product launches will be seamless. We don’t need to know everything, just to follow this process: Chunking, Sequencing, Connecting, Dumping, Practicing, Prioritizing. If you haven’t read her book, Agile Selling, get it now.
  • Mark Hunter told the audience, “Screw the benefits; it’s the outcomes. Outcomes always have a time element. Sell the customer on expected performance.” He also explained why the best sales presentation ever made is the presentation never given, and why it’s OK to walk away from bad deals or clients: “Don’t be afraid to walk. Price is not a sustainable competitive advantage. Sometimes the most profitable business is the business we don’t get.”
  • Anthony Iannarino said that when value ends up on a spreadsheet, you’re already done. Get off the spreadsheet and get mindshare. If clients make decisions based on comparing your solutions and price with your competition, you’ll never win. Be sure to subscribe to his blog for his priceless wisdom.
  • Debra Walton from Thomson Reuters was a pleasure to meet. Discussing her mentors was an “aha” moment for me. She has three mentors: “mentors for a reason, mentors for a season, and mentors for life.” (Read Debra’s post: “Four Tips for Agile Thinking—and Sales Success.”)

As for me, I learned that the best way to spark my creativity is to get out of my office and learn from others. Ideas just seemed to pop into my head while I was in the presence of so many smart, talented sales professionals. Of course, great ideas really don’t come out of nowhere. They’re always percolating somewhere in our brains, but sometimes we need to break out of our routines in order to access them. So get outside. Take a walk or a drive. Stop working on the airplane, and try thinking about things that aren’t work-related. Or spend time talking shop with other people who inspire you. These are the times when you’ll be the most creative.

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What did you learn at Dreamforce this year?

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