The Top 10 Ambition Blog Posts of 2014
Most content that you'll read on a company website is designed to sell, rather than serve. Here at Ambition, we've strived for something different. The following is a list of the 10 most popular, actionable, and unique blog posts we published in 2014.
We've put out over 60 posts on our blog this year, with the mindset that each post should add true value, convey fresh perspective, and help readers accomplish personal objectives related to Sales, Workforce Management, and Professional Leadership.
We consider the following 10 posts to be the hallmarks of that mentality and our commitment to providing the highest-caliber content to our readers. Because this post was written by our Marketing Director, we're also including links to content that has appeared on our Academy page and other websites at the very end of this post.
The Best of the Ambition Blog in 2014
The Ambition Blog motto: "Give the people what they want." So enough hype-building, let's get to presenting the list.
Thanks to all of you who read 1 or more of the 60+ blog posts we've written. It's been an amazing year, and these are the 10 articles we felt proudest to publish on the Ambition Blog.
1) The State of the American Workplace: 2004-2014
One of the longest and most in-depth posts from this past year, my purpose in writing the State of the American Workplace was to hone in on four key trends -- all intertwined -- that I saw changing the workforce and ways in which we go about doing business over the past decade.
Less a look back than a glimpse into the future, the article chronicles the most pertinent forces fueling our changing professional world -- Technology, Demographics, Values and Data Analytics -- and discusses how to leverage these factors to your advantage as a professional.
It's an article that goes after a big-picture topic, reflects the values of Ambition, and went on to generate a ton of positive feedback on social media. Again, it's a lengthy read, but if you have the time, it's definitely worth your while.
2) The Sales Influencer Series Presents: Max Altschuler
The Sales Influencer Series has been one of the neatest and most successful initiatives we've undertaken on the Ambition Blog this year. Spearheaded by CSO Jared Houghton, each episode involves an interview with a leading Sales thought leader and provides audio & text transcript of key insights in their particular areas of expertise.
While all of the episodes have been outstanding, Max Altschuler's appearance in Episode 3 had far and away the most dramatic response. The Co-Founder and CEO of SalesHacker offered some excellent insights into the best and most cutting edge sales tools on the market while also sharing the origin story of SalesHacker itself.
For anyone in Sales or seeking to become an Entrepreneuer, this is a must-read that gives a unique, expert-level perspective on making it in the SaaS world and leveraging technology to your benefit in 2015.
3)The 3 Questions in Enterprise SaaS Sales
I live, eat, sleep and breathe in the world of Enterprise SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) sales, so writing this article was a no-brainer. Plus, I had access to the phenomenal insights of everyone from Mark Cranney (SaaS veteran and member of leading SaaS Venture Capital firm Andreesen Horowitz) to my own brother (an immensely successful SaaS sales professional in the field of payroll technology software) to draw from.
Though this article specifically focuses on SaaS sales, many of the key insights transcend SaaS and are applicable to anyone trying to sell into an enterprise. This post was very instructive to me, as a writer, and I was glad to see it resonate with SaaS industry readers as well.
4)A Fantasy Football Lover's Guide to Your Sales Force
Sales Professionals: Do you need to read an article premised around comparing every member of your Sales Team to an NFL player? Of course you do!
We get asked this all the time, and yes, we really do love Fantasy Football here at Ambition. A number of us participate in a Work League every year. And even though my legacy as a Fantasy player bears a sadly striking resemblance to the early-90s Buffalo Bills teams (4 Super Bowls. 0 Championships), I still knew enough to draw out some coherent, humorous comparisons between Sales archetypes and NFL players.
Did I spent way too much time researching and crafting this juggernaut of a post? Yes, but it was well worth it. Surely there are people out there, somewhere, who like their Sales content in the format of a Deadspin article. (Right?) This one's for them.
5)Promoting Sales Force Motivation & Accountability Through Technology
My second post on the Ambition Blog really set the tone for the year to come. An in-depth discussion of the good, bad and ugly associated with CRM usage and "Gamification" tools as a remedy for disengaged workers, I ultimately elected to return to the post earlier this month and post an additional section amending some of the conclusions drawn in the initial publication.
Is the Glenngarry Glen Ross-era of sales truly waning? It so appears. Nevertheless, the post ultimately acts as a cautionary tale that employing Gamification improperly to drive employee productivity isn't going to be any more effective.
Meet the new boss, same as the old boss? Not if you use Gamification correctly. This article explains how.
6) The Sales Influencer Series Presents: John Barrows
The first episode of the Sales Influencer Series, Jared Houghton and Sales Guru John Barrows went deep on some major topics impacting modern sales teams.
How best to bridge the generation gap between Gen-X employees and Millennials? How best to utilize technology without becoming reliant upon it? How best to transition an employee up or down the ladder from Business Development Representative to Account Executive, and vice versa?
The answers are all in here. And best of all, they're delivered by one of the truly elite (and always entertaining) members of the Sales profession, the indomitable John Barrows.
7) The Leadership Styles of 5 NBA Legends
Everyone and their mother is writing about leadership these days. So the Ambition Blog took a different approach to the topic, diving Bill Simmons-style into the psychological makeups of five legendary NBA athletes -- Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Bill Russell and Lebron James -- and coming away with five wildly different, but highly successful approaches to leading a team of one's peers.
I carefully selected the five figures profiled for two reasons: Each player 1) transcended not just his profession, but sports in general, and 2) was driven to the highest echelons of performance by very unique psychological forces that impacted the way he led others.
The distinctions between Jordan, Magic, Bird, Russell and Lebron were fascinating to research and fun to write about. And I couldn't write this post without loading it full of immersive Youtube clips, links to ridiculous stat sheets, and, purely by random, multiple references to Allen Iverson. If you're a fan of Grantland or other long-read sports and business articles, trust me, you'll enjoy this post.
8) Confessions of a Disgruntled Sales Rep
A close acquaintance of mine has spent his entire professional career living the favorite topic of Ambition: Surviving and thriving in the cutthroat world of sales.
The first thing you need to know is that our anonymous narrator is an amazingly gifted and successful Sales professional. Well-trained, naturally skilled, and rolling in rivers of self-confidence and commission checks. Over the last 5 years, he's probably made more money than 90 percent of his professional peers.
Here's the other thing, though: Our anonymous narrator is also an extremely bitter, dissatisfied member of what has to be one of the most challenging, toxic work environments I've ever heard of. You want Sales war stories? This post might as well be dispatches from a War Zone.
You can practically visualize the thousand-yard-stare behind the eyes of this post's narrator as you traverse through his 10 Confessions. It's unlike anything else we've ever posted on the Ambition Blog, and unlike 99.9 percent of the Sales content you'll read. There's no "unicorns and rainbows" promises and no pump-up speeches. This is Full Metal Jacket for the Boiler Room.
9) The 7 Step Guide to Surviving Y Combinator
Ambition started 2014 with a bang, entering the prestigious Y Combinator startup accelerator in Silicon Valley, where we were selected as one of the top three members of our class.
Our Co-Founder and COO, Brian Trautschold, has committed to taking the valuable lessons learned from YC and similar experiences as a Startup Founder and sharing them with our readers. This is his definitive piece.
If you're involved with a Startup company, the "7-Step Guide to Surviving Y Combinator" is required reading. Straightforward, to-the-point, and written in Brian's unique, no bullshit voice, this is the keystone piece of Entrepreneur-focused content we delivered in 2014.
10) 5 New Year's Resolutions for Inside Sales Managers
Disregard the gimmicky topic (sorry) and just know one thing: This is the most effective distillation of everything I learned and wrote about Sales and Management over the past year.
Better yet, it's concise. You want the Cliff's Notes of the 2014 Ambition Blog? Find it here. The five resolutions listed go towards the most substantial topics of note in today's Sales world.
I read dozens of articles that externally look exactly like this every week. So trust me when I say -- This one's different.
Honorable Mention: 6 Underrated Bloggers To Follow on LinkedIn
Our most popular post from 2014 had to make this list, so I'm giving it an Honorable Mention.
The great thing about this post is that it combines two of our favorite things in content marketing: 1) Spotlighting others. 2) Finding great content in unexpected sources.
Here are six (relatively) under-the-radar professionals who wrote content equaling or exceeding anything I did in 2014. The face you're looking at belongs to Chris Young. Haven't heard of him? He wrote the best piece of Sales content we read all year.
Before you go -- hey look, Ambition content appeared elsewhere, too! In no particular order, these were our 5 favorite Guest Editorials that we contributed to major publications in 2014.
1) A Primer for Driving Employee Productivity. Hubspot. July 2014.
2) Using Data Analytics to Become a Killer Sales Coach. SalesHacker. Sep 2014.
3) What Millennials Really Need. The Daily Muse. Nov 2014.
4) Is That Whole Gamification Thing Really Over? Information Age. July 2014.
5) 3 Maxims of a Standout Company Blog. Social Media Today. Sep 2014.
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