As we enter the 2nd half of 2016, three things are abundantly clear. 1) Mankind is prone to human error. (See: Great Britain). 2) Epic comebacks are possible. (See: Cleveland sports). 2) At this very moment, someone is publishing a mediocre blog post pertaining to sales. (See: Your LinkedIn feed).
Such is the case, we thought it appropriate to publish our 1st mid-year Top Sales Blog Posts list. You can check out our 2014 and 2015 lists here. But first, feast your eyes on the 10 most exceptional pieces of sales content we came across over the last 6 months.
The Top 10 Sales Blog Posts from 2016 (So Far)
Per tradition, we began writing this list by consulting our internal directory of impactful Sales content. As always, the Blog Posts that won out shared a consensus trait -- they helped us close more deals.
Here are Ambition's picks for the Top 10 Sales Blog Posts from the 1st half of 2016.
1. Welcome to the Machine | By Jill Rowley
Two years ago, we interviewed a disgruntled President's Club Account Executive who ruefully used the phrase, "Welcome to the machine," while confessing his deepest frustrations towards his organization. Since then, we've seen hundreds of allusions towards building a "sales machine." All positive. All treating the modern-day sales rep like a cyborg. All assessing the buyer as a prized piece of big game that could inevitably be felled, should you use enough touch points.
This savage post from Jill Rowley, speaking to the foremost issues plaguing B2B sales at both the individual and organizational level, takes the top spot in our list because it 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. This post was just fantastic, Jill, that's really what we think. Oh, by the way, which one's Pink?
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.
Source: The ExecVision Blog
In terms of competition, the sales technology space is perhaps the most cutthroat in all of enterprise technology. No one told Outreach VP of Sales Mark Kosoglow, who is one of the nicest, most down-to-earth leaders in enterprise sales.
Across venture capital, the boom years of startup fundraising for emerging SaaS companies have all but dried up. No one told Kosoglow, whose company has closed not one, but two impressive venture capital rounds in the 18 months since making him its first sales hire.
Scaling a SaaS startup that sells enterprise-level software in a highly-competitive market at a premium price is supposed to be hard. Kosoglow entered Outreach with zero SaaS experience and now has a 40+ member sales force that, as both company results and our interview with him will attest, is the model of modern, collaborative, and efficiency B2B business operation.
Last but not least, 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, buzzword-infused variation of the typical enterprise sales model.
And guys, Mark Kosoglow is pissed. 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.
Wait a minute, you may be asking. What the hell is this marketing post doing in a Top 10 sales blogs list?
We're so glad you asked. To steal a headline our colleagues at Docurated used in our Sales-Marketing Alignment Playbook, it's because the digital selling era has blurred the lines completely. Sales is marketing. Marketing is Sales.
This is not an asinine intra-marketing argument. It's a harbinger of a huge shift that's occurring in sales-marketing alignment, sales outreach methodologies, prospect qualification and pretty much every conceivable topic related to B2B lead and demand generation, prospect journey and closing.
Drift Growth Marketing Lead Dave Gerhardt is pulling back the curtain, folks. And if you're skeptical, consider that HubSpot, the company who introduced form-based marketing automation into the mainstream, removed the form walls from practically all of its downloadable content.
Source: OpenView Labs
Every Scott Britton article on sales is like a breath of fresh air. He's the master at picking a specific topic (tactical, issue-based or initiative) and tearing into it with next-level actionability, readability and (coining this term on the spot) gif-ability, if you will.
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.
What makes it the best? I could share a detailed analysis. But it boils down to 1) the article's broad aim and 2) the inclusion of the line, "Do you even format, bro? This is JV laziness" under the Copy and Paste Formatting section. Sales needs more writers like Scott Britton.
Source: The Troops Blog
If you've never visited the Spiro Blog, hop on over and bear witness to the holy mecca of clickbait listicles. One day, Adam Honig just needs to make things official and rename the blog, Buzzfeed for Sales.
For the record, Spiro is the only blog where the terms I used above are, in fact, a compliment. Maybe it's because we share a mutual favorite tactic: co-opting movie/tv/sports clips for article headers. Maybe it's how they perfectly optimize each post to be as digestible as possible. Maybe I just admire their ruthless consistency.
Whatever Spiro's it-factor is, it's on full display in 10 Reasons Salespeople Fail. This article has 6,000+ shares because it delivers unique, profound insights with warp-speed efficiency. No filler. No links. No images. No B.S. Just pure, uncut truths that every frustrated rep experiences at a subconscious level, but rarely get verbalized. Keep the listicles coming, Spiro.
Source: The Spiro Blog
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.
The key value that Barsi delivers goes to that latter point. Rather than torture SDRs with yet another text-only lecture pontificating about what they should be doing, Barsi brings his insights and suggestions to life with unstylized, real-world images.
Along with Scott Britton's post, "How the Best SDRs Take Massive Action" is a premiere example of visual learning that's perfectly tailored for sales pros. It remembers how much textbooks suck, foregoes slick design for raw footage and gives the best sense of an effective SDR in action.
Source: Sales Hacker
In 2015, Kayla Kozan one-upped us on the subject of millennial sales force management. This spring, Cobhan Phillipson took some of the wind out of our 50 page Sales Performance Index with this 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.
Further credit to Cobhan for his impeccable selections. The 7 metrics listed directly hit upon the most important emerging analytics needs the digital transformation of sales is creating.
Source: The Docrated Blog
There was only one way to close out our list, and it's with this 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.
Source: The Close.io Blog
Who Inspired Your Sales Growth in the 1st half of 2016?
We want to know who to be reading in 2016, so cough up your sources! Feel free to tweet us your or add them in the comments section below.
Heartfelt thanks to all of our featured writers. To learn how Ambition can impact your Sales Team, visit our Product and Academy Page. Or, just contact us. Good luck sales pros, and thoughts and prayers to our neighbors across the pond.
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