The top 50 must-read articles for modern sales leaders.
Modern sales VPs, directors, managers and operations leaders face an incredible challenge. The digital age is turning the sales process on its head. Buyers are more savvy than ever before. Marketing is more important than ever before. Industry technology is evolving faster with each passing year. A flood of young, inexperienced talent is entering the workforce.
In the midst of all that, sales leaders are expect to keep calm, carry on, and hit that end-of-year revenue goal, or it's curtains.
The Top 50 Sales Management Articles of the Decade
This list profiles the decade's best articles on modern sales leadership. We chose 50 of the most impactful articles from today's top sales consultants, industry practitioners, venture capitalists, and marketing leaders. The selections cover the most important topics facing modern sales leaders, and were culled from a wide variety of industry blogs, leading business publications, and go-to industry resources. Please find our 50 selections below.
Listed Alphabetically by Title
By Zach Watson | Source: TechnologyAdvice
A compelling look at three proven sales contest formats, complete with real-world examples and explanations of what drove their success. Read More: The Winner's Guide to Running Effective Sales Contests.
By Zorian Rotenberg | Source: InsightSquared Blog
What Zorian's really doing here is reverse-engineering the preaching of good fundamentals. Members of any profession, sales or otherwise, hate to feel like their core competencies are being challenged. Credit to Zorian for covering the most universal mistakes that all sales professions are prone to making.
By Steve Richard | Source: The VorsightBP Blog
Richard doesn't set out to de-legitimize Predictable Revenue, just set proper parameters as to its applicability. In doing so, he performs a huge service to the greater sales community at-large. It's clear that this article was borne out of necessity. Steve Richard has no doubt seen firsthand the havoc wreaked by ill-fated attempts to adopt the Sales 2.0 model where it simply cannot work. Every sales leader contemplating the adoption of the Predictable Revenue model should read this article first before making their final decision. Read More: The Ambition Guide to Predictable Revenue.
By Lauren Licata | Source: The Base CRM Blog
Unfamiliar with the New School of Sales strategy that's overtaken SaaS and other industries' sales teams? This is the perfect introduction. Lauren Licata asks all the right questions of the legendary original VP of Sales at HubSpot.
By Jill Konrath | Source: LinkedIn
Jill Konrath delivers a powerful synopsis of Steve W. Martin's research on the personality traits that define high-performing sales results. An important article and cause for self-reflection for any sales professional.
By Danny Wong | Source: Entrepreneur
Practical real world tips, sound analysis, and six ways for reps to start improving conversation rates. Danny Wong has written dozens of articles on sales strategy for Entrepreneur - this is his best.
By Peter Strohkorb | Source: LinkedIn
Sales-marketing alignment is at a premium and chances are, your organization could do a better job. Peter Strohkorb dives into 7 pervasive bugaboos that plague B2B sales and marketing collaboration.
By Steli Efti | Source: OpenView Labs
Leading a startup sales team is one of the ultimate challenges in sales management. Close.io CEO Steli Efti delivers a great piece on keeping reps motivated, focused, and accountable in SMB teams. Read more: 25 Epic Videos to Inspire Your Sales Force.
By Cobhan Phillipson | Source: The Docrated Blog
A simple, well-crafted and spot-on list of 7 pivotal sales performance metrics. Cobhan's list also arrives hot-on-the-heels of an emerging consensus around sales efficiency tracking. Sales organizations continue to hone in on moneyball sales metrics at rep, team and company levels. The concise, accurate directives supplied in this list are exactly what they're looking for. Read more: The 2016 Sales Performance Index.
By Steli Efti | Source: The Close.io Blog
A classic Steli Efti post. Slightly more subdued than the borderline-tirades that made Steli a household name, this list is still Grade-A sales content, with a pulverizing focus on actionability and a solid two dozen linked references to immediate further insights. All it needs is a quintessential Steli video at the end.
By Adam Honig | Source: The Spiro Blog
This article has 6,000+ shares because it delivers unique, profound insights with warp-speed efficiency. No filler. Just pure, uncut truths that every frustrated rep experiences at a subconscious level, but rarely get verbalized.
By Matt Heinz | Source: Heinz Marketing
One of those articles where you find yourself nodding all the way through it. Bonus points for Matt's thoroughly entertaining turns-of-phrase for each pet peeve. The "I'll just start calling you, bud" tactic is a personal most-hated pet peeve.
By Heather Morgan | Source: SalesFolk
If you're like us, you're the recipient of dozens of cold emails each day. Heather Morgan, the principal of Salesfolk, delivers some of her most actionable, hard-hitting insights in this critique of several low-quality, real world cold emails.
By Stephen J. Meyer | Source: Forbes
If you have any interest whatsoever in the modern B2B sales landscape, this is required reading. If you run an old-school sales model and want to know what all this "Sales 2.0" fuss is about, this is required reading. And if you're looking to adopt or optimize a modern, inside sales model within your organization, this article is the perfect starting point.
By Scott Britton | Source: The Troops Blog
Most of Scott's posts take a battlefield focus, methodically scripting out action plans at a tactical level. And while he's built a well-deserved industry reputation from his posts on improving cold email response rate, prospect list building and habits of successful salespeople, his recent post tackling the broader topic of sales communication and calling himself out for his own faux-pas is the best thing he's published yet.
By Lincoln Murphy | Source: Sixteen Ventures SaaS Growth Strategies
In the big scheme, Sales is invariably intertwined with Marketing and Customer Success, with each process informing, directing and driving the other. Trust us, there's plenty of actionable Sales advice to be found amongst all the content Murphy devotes to discussing customer acquisition in the opening chapters. This is a tabulated, curated guidebook to the entire customer acquisition and retainment process.
By Tamara Schenk | Source: CSO Insights
This post showcases what Schenk does best: diagnosing an underlying problem across B2B sales processes, placing it in the context of an easily-understood paradigm and then proscribing a clear strategy for remedying the issues. Here, Schenk distinguishes a major flaw in how sales organizations evaluate lead viability: by assessing their position relative to the prototypical "buying process," as opposed to the "customer's journey."
By Mike Weinberg | Source: OpenView Labs Blog
Citing to a must-read study by SiriusDecisions, Weinberg opens our eyes to a new reality of the modern, digital sales funnel -- prospects are engaging your salespeople at the very outset of the buying process. Content marketing, automated drip email, marketing automation and social media are moving prospects along the sales funnel - but a scarce number of them are 67% of the way through the buying process before initial contact with a sales rep. Which means sales organizations need to rethink their perceptions of sales-marketing alignment in 2016 and get smarter and more strategic about how they're moving prospects through the buying process.
By Chris Young | Source: The Sales Wolf Blog
What makes an elite Sales Professional? How about the mentality of the greatest fictional Closer of all-time. The vastly underrated Chris Young brilliantly explains it in this inventive article. Seeing is believing, and Chris helpfully includes links to Youtube clips of Mad Men's Don Draper performing his most epic pitches, negotiations and strategic discussion. Best of all, he re-conceptualizes the idea of the ultimate Sales Professional.
By Trish Bertuzzi | Source: LinkedIn
Trish Bertuzzi has crafted some of the best sales management content of the decade, period. This article is her tour de force, as she calls out the number one crime reps are guilty of - self-centric, ego-filled messaging - and offers a two-step approach to fixing it.
By Andy Raskin | Source: LinkedIn
The most recent article to make this list. Andy Raskin's deconstruction of a brilliant Zuora sales deck is spreading like wildfire around sales message boards, forums and online communities for good reason. This really is an impeccable sales deck - and Andy's analysis is spot-on.
By Ralph Barsi | Source: Sales Hacker
This article personifies the concept, "Lead by example." Ralph Barsi took his own massive action in putting together this sprawling, multi-faceted playbook-posing-as-a-blog-post. It even has a couple personal touches interspersed amongst the diverse array of charts, social media creenshots, schedules and workflows that make it the enterprising SDR's go-to bookmark for 2016.
By Douglas Burdett | Source: The Kitedesk Blog
This article has it all. Its title alone belongs in the sales blogging Hall of Fame - and fortunately, Douglas Burdett backs it up with a hilarious, universally understandable and compelling premise. What B2B sales rep hasn't followed up on an eBook download or similarly tepid new lead with a rushed calendar invite and follow-up email that acts like the prospect just requested a full-court sales press Burdett's sharp analysis distinguishes what separates overzealous follow-up from proper sales courtship.
By Fergal Glynn | Source: Sales Hacker
Sales is marketing. Marketing is sales. That's the thesis of Fergal Glynn's definitive article on sales-marketing alignment, and it hits like a ton of bricks. A perfect encapsulation of the mentality that's required to win in the digital age of B2B sales. Read More: The Sales-Marketing Alignment Playbook.
By Lincoln Murphy | Source: Sixteen Ventures
The Ideal Customer Profile Framework carries all the hallmarks that make Lincoln Murphy's content stand out. It's comprehensive, visually compelling, well-structured and best of all, delivered with a been-there, done-that persona. End result: The most insightful, readable article you'll find on ICPs anywhere on the internet.
By Mark Cranney | Source: Andreessen Horowitz
We loved this post so much we essentially plagiarized it in one of our own. We couldn't help it, as Cranney puts on a clinic here, dispassionately disspelling the myth of the easy SaaS sale.If you're in the SaaS industry, read this article. In B2B sales? Read this article. Still selling a product on its features? Definitely read this article. Bookmark it, make it your homepage, whatever it takes to ensure that you're following the guidance of Mark Cranney.
By Jill Rowley | Source: LinkedIn
Thought leadership always has been - and always will be - a BS term. Jill Rowley gives it the proper lashing it deserves. A perfect article for sales leaders struggling to fix the mindset of reps who would rather give a Ted Talk than serve their clientele.
By Tamara Schenk | Source: Sales Enablement Perspectives
Schenk tackles a premise -- the biggest inhibitor to sales success in 2014 - that we've seen overwhelm her lesser peers. In doing so, she makes a compelling case that value messaging, at present, is the Achilles Heel of the Sales Profession. Great value messaging requires empathy, and we've spent the last decade depersonalizing just about every level of the sales process -- transitioning from cold calls to cold emails, from manually-typed emails to automated blaster campaigns, and from in-person prospect meetings to faceless web demos. Schenk shows how deep the problem goes and how to rectify it.
By Mark Kosoglow | Source: LinkedIn
In a year where every other article about sales includes the words "acount based," no one told Mark Kosoglow that he needed to go along with program and pretend that ABS is a new, groundbreaking idea, rather than a repacked, tech-updated variation of the classic enterprise sales model. This post is a heat-seeking missile aimed squarely at the ABS hype machine, fired by an industry insider and brimming with sincere loathing (just listen to this interview excerpt) for its targets. Watch video: The Leaders in Modern Sales Technology.
By Thomas Steenburgh and Michael Ahearne | Source: Harvard Business Review
The decade's canonical article on sales team motivation. Steenburgh and Ahearne deftly cover the most pivotal topics related to sales motivation - incentives, competitions, compensation structure - with data-driven insights and actionable recommendations that apply to any sales organizations. Watch video: Cell Marque's Ultimate Sales Contest.
By Peter Gracey | Source: The QuotaFactory Blog
Want to see Peter Gracey nukes a common, offensively bad cold email back into the Stone Age? Of course you do. The rapid proliferation of cold email over the past 5 years has created an increasingly desperate, over-the-top approach to stand out from the hordes of other inbox prospectors vying for attention. Which is why it's so satisfying to see Gracey take the gloves off with an insipid "Alligator" prospecting template that's been en vogue for far too long.
By Brandon Redlinger | Source: Salesforce
The best article from one of the true up-and-comers in B2B sales and marketing. Required reading for any account-based sales leader thanks to its comprehensive, flawless SDR onboarding program. Read more: Bridging the Gap: The Ultimate Guide to Account Based Sales and Marketing Alignment.
By Ethan Bernstein | Source: Harvard Business Review
The most amazing sales leadership story of the decade. Ethan Bernstein spent a week embedded in a Fortune 1000 sales team running a a 3 month, Fantasy Football-style sales competition. The results are even more incredible than the format and will have you rethinking your approach to sales contests. Read more: Clayton Homes Case Study.
By Lou Carlozo | Source: Yesware Blog
We see this problem all the time, especially within our own industry: Sales Professionals who seem to think that selling a technology product gives them license to sell using pitches as charisma-free and pre-programmed as a Windows update. When you're tackling enterprise sales in this manner, you're ensuring failure. Product-market fit, robust engineering, and competitive pricing: it all goes right out the window when your message is unconvincing, unprofessional, or lacks personality. Lou does a pretty great job of spelling it out.
By Steve Richard | Source: The ExecVision Blog
A post so elemental and so well-written, it became the first (and only) article to be syndicated on the Ambition Blog. Steve Richard zeroes in on 2 sweet words, consistency and accountability, and brings beautifuly clarity to the twin pillars of effective sales leadership. He also weaves in some excellent anecdotal and expert support from colleagues and, most impactfully, his wife. We could go on. But we've delayed your introduction to this post long enough. Click the link and enjoy the best quick read on sales leadership published in 2016.
By Tim Bertrand | Source: ForEntrepreneurs
Acquia Chief Sales Officer Tim Bertrand pulls back the curtain and runs through the sales strategy that produced record revenue growth for his company over 27 consecutive quarters. The decade's most detailed, transparent and insightful expose of a successful real-world sales strategy in action. Read more: The Ambition Way.
By Craig Rosenberg | Source: TOPO
The best prospecting email analysis you'll ever read. TOPO Founder Craig Rosenberg deconstructs elite prospecting emails from four real-world practitioners, producing dozens of insights in the process. You'll come away from this article with no less than 3 new email tactics in your back pocket.
By Mark Roberge | Source: Harvard Business Review
Mark Roberge's best work this decade has come in book (The Sales Acceleration Formula) and video (presentation at Google) form. This article is the best introduction to his modus operandi, succinctly divulging the four keys that defined his legacy at HubSpot.
By Nikita Ovtchinikov and Sam Laber | Source: Datanyze Blog
Our anonymous Guest Blogger, The Apex Predator, declared this to be an essential read for sales professionals. And we co-sign completely. Perhaps the most amazing thing about this post, besides its depth, comprehensiveness and all-around practicality, is that its main writer isn't a seasoned sales leader, but an Account Executive at Marketo. Excellent insights from a relative unknown.
By John Barrows | Source: LinkedIn
Industry hero John Barrows delivers a quintissential article on the purpose of the opening line in prospect outreach. The synopsis: Dispense with the pleasantries. Get to the point. Explain the reason for your outreach with compelling specificity.
By Keenan | Source: LinkedIn
An article only Jim Keenan could write. Far and away one of the most entertaining personalities in the sales community, Keenan sounds the alarm (with all caps, no less) on the abundance of poorly-trained, self-centered and downright lazy modern day sales professionals. More importantly, he unearths the underlying causes driving the profession's bad behavior and where we can start improving.
By Unknown | Source: LinkedIn
Reading a Sales from the Darkside post is like a trip to the sales blogosphere Twilight Zone. This is a different kind of sales article: Biting, unfiltered, hilarious, and on-point. "There's No Crying in Sales" deservedly hit it big in 2014, thanks to its refreshing mix of sarcasm and poignant industry criticism. The inanity of regional sales meetings, the cruel treatment of success (doubling quota), and an absolutely brutal distillation of sales manager double-speak - it's all here.
By Bryan Gonzalez | Source: TOPO
Bryan Gonzalez beautifully distills the time management best practices that drive SDR success. A must-read for any sales development leader, complete with an hour-by-hour breakdown of an ideal SDR work schedule.
By Steve W. Martin | Source: Harvard Business Review
Years from now, the sales community will look back on Steve W. Martin's HBR piece as the harbinger of a new era in sales. Martin chronicles the steady shift from field sales to inside sales taking place across the sales community at-large, identifying the agents of change and what they portend for the future of sales.
By Jill Rowley | Source: LinkedIn
This savage post from Jill Rowley, speaking to the foremost issues plaguing B2B sales at both the individual and organizational level, has the courage and intellect to see B2B sales as it actually is. "Welcome to the Machine" emphasizes a key point Jill made in our most recent Sales Influencer Interview: Buyer interaction with sellers is dynamic. 95% of sales outreach is not. "Welcome to the Machine" is Jill's exposure of a devastating irony in modern B2B sales: As companies have focused more and more on achieving 'predictable' and 'scalable' sales machines, their buyer behavior has gone in a 180o opposite direction.
By Ryan Fuller | Source: Harvard Business Review
A revealing article that identifies 3 core traits of high performers, based on a massive industry study. Those traits: Deep (not wide) relationships with a few top clients, a strong internal network giving access to company resources, and (shocker) willingness to perform 4 hours of additional work each work outside of normal hours.
By Tomasz Tunguz | Source: LinkedIn
The erstwhile brilliance of Redpoint Ventures' Tomasz Tunguz lies within a very simple skill - the ability to take the complex and make it simple. His synopsis of Simon Sinek's famous Ted Talk is mandatory reading for any modern day sales professional.
By Kayla Kozan | Source: TechVibes
If you're looking for a definitive article on the millennial sales rep, look no further. Ridiculously on-point, well-sourced, and entertainingly-written by up-and-comer Kayla Kozan. Watch video: How to Attract, Retain and Maximize Millennial Sales Talent.
By Jason Lemkin | Source: SaaStr
Wherein the curator of the industry-leading SaaStr Blog gives New Year's Eve closers their full due. Lemkin cogently advocates that the New Year's Ever close is the ultimate sign of an elite B2B sales rep.
By Peter Ostrow | Source: Aberdeen Group
This action-packed article is a must-read for the modern sales operations leader. Peter Ostrow uncovers illuminating statistics that deliver big-picture insights on the most pivotal intersections between B2B sales, marketing and modern technology.
By Kyle Porter | Source: SalesLoft
A post that was extremely well-received by sales managers, because it opened their eyes to tracking the right metrics for Sales Development Reps versus Account Executives. Don't miss this excellent post from Kyle Porter.
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