2013 was a truly eventful and memorable year, not just for us here at InsightSquared and our happy customers, but also for the sales and marketing industry at large. With the widespread proliferation of sales analytics, social media, mobile CRM and other sales management trends, the sales and marketing landscape continues to change dramatically into 2014.

With that said, before we look forward to what promises to be another exciting year, we thought this would be a good time to reflect and take a walk down memory lane. Without further ado, here are our top 13 blog posts from this past year, with links in each title. Thanks for reading, and a very happy new year to all!

1) Tackling the ‘Excel Problem’ in Small Business

For some reason, many sales managers and CEOs at small businesses still work exclusively in Microsoft Excel spreadsheets, despite their many inherent issues and limitations. One of the biggest problems with Excel is the difficulty in maintaining top-notch data quality, but there are a host of other reasons to migrate your work processes away from these limited spreadsheets.

2) How to Choose your Sales Pipeline Stages

Every sales manager worth his or her salt knows how critical effective sales pipeline management is, and it all begins with choosing the right sales pipeline stages. This blog post examines some of the key features that well-defined pipeline strategies all have.

3) The Limitations of Salesforce.com Reports

As much as we love working in Salesforce.com, and believe that it is undoubtedly the finest CRM system on the market, there are limitations to producing sales reports in Salesforce. These limitations hinder the amount of analysis that sales managers and Sales VPs want – and need – and ultimately diminishes the power of your data and sales metrics.

4) Why your Office should Display Sales Performance Metrics

In this age of transparency, companies are becoming increasingly forthright about their data and the work their sales reps are doing. Transparency is not only good for your company as a whole, but it can serve as a tremendous motivator to your sales reps, as they measure themselves against their peers and the company’s goals.

5) The What’s, Why’s and How’s of a Sales Funnel Report

You know the shape of a sales funnel and might have some semblance of an idea of what the sales funnel actually does. For the rest of your questions – including why you need to know your conversion rates between sales funnel stages and how to analyze the current state of your sales funnel – check out our extensive guide on the in’s and out’s of a sales funnel report.

6) 12 Best Sales Management Books EVER Written

The best sales managers and Sales VPs never stop honing their craft and improving their sales management abilities. A great way to bone up on best practices is to grab one – or all! – of these sales management books, which we consider to be the 12 best ever written. With great titles from experts such as Jason Jordan, Nathan Jamail and Chris Lytle, the books on this list are not to be missed.

7) Top 10 Sales Tools for 2013

To get by in sales today, you need more than just a telephone and a great sales script. In fact, selling without using these tools is akin to playing basketball with one hand tied behind your back; sure, you might be able to score a few baskets, but it won’t be easy. Simplify your job and take your sales to the next level with these great sales tools.

8) Marketing Analytics as a ‘Check Engine’ Light

Just as the ‘Check Engine’ light on your car’s dashboard should alert you when something is amiss under the hood, marketing analytics can provide a similar notification. Check these marketing analytics regularly to see if you are generating enough leads or to ensure that marketing is actively contributing to the pipeline.

9) Sales Performance Metrics to Benchmark your Outbound Lead Gen Team

Outbound lead generation is a critical part of building out the pipeline for most sales organizations. However, many of these same companies also make the mistake of not measuring their outbound  sales teams by the right sales performance metrics, or not measuring them at all. Hold your team against these industry benchmarks to see how effective they are at their jobs.

10) The 3 Marketing Metrics that MATTER (to your CEO)

Most Marketing VPs make the mistake of discussing the number of leads they generated with their CEO. In truth, CEO’s don’t give a hoot about leads – they care about other marketing metrics that actually move the needle. Not sure what these marketing metrics are? Our blog posts has the answers your CEO is looking for.

11) The Most Common Sales Advice…is Also the Worst! 

Remember what you learned on the first day of training at your first ever sales job? That you should “Always be closing?” Well, in the age of the intelligent buyer, that most common sales advice…is also the worst!

12) The Secret to Motivating Sales Teams (Hint: It’s NOT Money)

Today’s sales reps aren’t as motivated by financial incentives and compensation packages as their peers of yesteryear were. For sales managers to properly motivate their sales teams, they need to dangle some other types of carrots on the end of the stick.

13) Lessons from Dreamforce ’13: How to Build a Cult like Marc Benioff

Finally, one of our greatest events and fondest memories from 2013 was Dreamforce, the annual tech conference hosted by Salesforce.com. Among the many lessons and experiences we took away from Dreamforce ’13, none resonated with us more than Marc Benioff’s tremendous ability to build a loyal cult following.
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