Patrick Stakenas

A member of the Gartner Blog Network

Patrick Stakenas
Research Director
1 year at Gartner
14 years IT industry

Patrick Stakenas is a research director at Gartner Research. His primary focus is on sales performance management (SPM) and mobile. Mr. Stakenas has extensive expertise in SPM, CRM, SaaS and cloud computing models. He has application expertise in SPM, incentive compensation, sales force automation (SFA) ...Read Full Bio

What’s new in SPM: The Changing World of Sales Training

by Patrick Stakenas  |  November 11, 2013  |  1 Comment

Seriously!  Why has it taken so long for industrious sales leaders to finally figure this out? 

I remember what it was like joining a large paper manufacturer in the mid eighties starting my career in outside sales.  It all began with 3 weeks in a room with 20 other new sales recruits, covering all aspects or prospecting, selling, closing etc… then as my roles advanced in sales management following this same model putting new sales people through sales training and putting seasoned sales executive through days and weeks of offsite learning…. Only to realize time and time again what really stuck, what really resonated was what occurred in the field, during the selling process. Then along came CRM and supporting SPM tools like coaching; but still missing were the elements of sales methodology and the framework by which one sells.  Training remained separate and apart from the technology and tools.

We all realize that sales training, as we know it, hasn’t really worked for quite some time.  We all understand that the profession is unique in that very few sales people have degrees in professional selling, although this is changing with Universities like DePaul in Chicago who now offer a BA/BS in Sales Leadership.

So, without this degree, companies must either invest in professional development, or try to play in the “free agent” market.  Each approach has its merits.  Back in the days, big sales organizations like IBM, Xerox and AT&T would immerse sales people in programs like I went through, that lasted weeks and months, and kept sending them back, until they hopefully figured it out. Reality is however, they learned through practice in the field, not in the classroom.  So why do we expect sales people to get significantly better at their craft by attending weeklong sessions or even two or three day sales training events, when months of training didn’t work?  We all know, both from practical experience and various studies, that about 80% of what sales people learn in training is lost in the first 30 days after the event. 

Old news, I get it.  And apparently so do many sales training providers.  Do a quick Google search on the phrase “sales training doesn’t work” and you get back more than 30,000 results, many pointing to articles authored by sales training companies! Why then do companies continue to invest billions of dollars in sales training events?  It is because they don’t know what else to do.

Technology Applied to an Old Problem

While things are slowly changing there are actually a couple of companies that are making a mark by applying technology in a new and intelligent way to this old problem.  What is interesting about what these companies are doing is the concept of integrating learning and coaching into the CRM solutions sales leaders have been trying desperately to get sales people to use for some time now.  By using the underlying capabilities of the CRM, combined with some very cool applications for things like opportunity management, account management and sales coaching, these companies may well blow up the old business model for sales training events.

Last spring in the Gartner Cool Vendor report for 2013, TAS made the list as a training technology firm that had already begun to shift the paradigm by moving from a traditional sales training company to a technology company.

I was recently briefed by another firm looking to change how people learn and sell that has also shifted from training to integrated sales learning. AXIOM Sales Force Development appears to be on a mission to change the old sales training model.  By rethinking the old paradigm for sales training and applying new processes and technology that encapsulate CRM and SPM integration, AXIOM is delivering an interesting solution that changes the way sales people engage customers and the way managers coach and lead. Built on the platform and leveraging the core functionality of, they are integrating a broad online learning library with key applications for account management, opportunity management and coaching.  Their integrated solution appears to bring learning to the point where sales process occurs – where sales people and sales managers work – and to integrate it into the cadence of a normal sales organization.

Companies like TAS and AXIOM have clearly taken note of the fundamental changes in selling and learning.  It is getting increasingly more expensive to pull sales people out of the field for training they are going to forget in a matter of weeks.  In addition, today’s sellers are less patient and more technologically advanced than ever before.  These people want learning delivered using technology and they want it easily accessible when they need it most.  For these sellers, the old-line reinforcement programs offered by many traditional training companies aren’t effectively leveraging technology and aren’t really moving the needle.  Finally, sales managers and senior leaders need better information and better coaching tools that correlate sales performance to behavior and ultimately to learning and development. 

Is this the end of “Sales Training” as we know it?  Perhaps not quite yet; not at least until the word gets out that there are alternatives to the old model; better alternatives than pulling sales people out of the field and sitting in training for days on end.

The market for sales training technology is truly taking hold, and aspects of Gartner’s Nexus of Forces – the cloud, mobile and information, are enabling businesses to shift learning from the classroom – to an interactive engagement during the selling process.

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New Entrys to Sales Performance Management (SPM) Like Zoho are catching up with SPM in a fast way

by Patrick Stakenas  |  September 6, 2013  |  5 Comments

The breadth and depth of SPM continues to broaden substantially to include key functionalities supporting sales and the utilization of tools to  assist in the behavioral management of salespeople.

Gartner analyzes key vendors with SPM product suites for business leaders and sales teams.  Sales performance management (SPM) encompasses operational and analytical functions to automate and integrate processes for planning, designing, allocating and managing sales compensation, sales processes, territories, quotas and behavioral/training plans. SPM solutions seek to improve the structure, focus and motivation of salespeople and channels to achieve targets for revenue and margin production. Moreover, SPM solutions provide modeling and analytic capabilities for businesses to evaluate sales assumptions and diagnose trends in sales outcomes. 

Sales incentive compensation usually marks the foundation for SPM companies, however and Zoho have entered the market from the back door with solid functionality, however has no ICM and relies on their partner community.

Gartner talks in detail about it in a recent note that I authored “Magic Quadrant for Sales Performance Management”  (subscription/fee required).


 1SPM MQ Graphic


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Are you Ready to Handle the Changing World of Sales Performance Management and Sales Effectiveness

by Patrick Stakenas  |  August 20, 2013  |  1 Comment

Technologies are evolving and disrupting the broader market of sales force automation and even more so at the actual place where selling occurs. This requires sales leaders of the future to become more proficient in leveraging tools for sales and sales management. Big competitive differentiation can be found in process, system and salesperson improvements.

Tomorrow’s sales leadership must focus on the personal aspects of sales force development including mentoring, coaching and teaching and must be aware of  new technologies in the cloud, mobile, social and big data that are disrupting existing SFA technology investments as these new new capabilities for delivery and usage of sales applications messes with legacy and outdated systems.

Sales performance management (SPM) and sales effectiveness (SE) technologies have evolved greatly during the past three years inside of the larger framework of sales force automation.  Past sales technology investments have put the central focus on tools to manage the customer, with little regard to tools to manage and develop salespeople. A recent shift in thinking by sales leadership to account for new generations of salespeople, and the need to create a stronger sales team, has driven technology vendors to respond with a multitude of tools that allow sales leadership to shift, manage and enhance the behavioral aspects of the sales force. Sales leaders of the future must understand where they have strong processes and technologies to support the selling organization, and where they have gaps.

From the start,  you must provide equal focus and attention to both SPM and SE   We talk about it in detail in a recent note that I authored Tech Go-To-Market: The Future of SPM and SE Will Change How you Sell  (subscription/fee required) and this is a core component of our Future of IT Sales Special Report.

Gartner recently released a special report on the Future of technologies as since March 2013, Gartner has interviewed a number of sales leaders at various technology providers to understand the challenges and opportunities they face. Many of these interactions took place to validate our hypothesis about the future of sales. Other insights have been integrated into this research as quotes and examples, to help contextualize our position and present a unique perspective on where our technology and service provider clients believe the future of IT sales is heading.  


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Social for Sales Finally Making a Dent in the Selling World

by Patrick Stakenas  |  May 31, 2013  |  2 Comments

I have viewed numerous vendors recently that are making progress on using “Social” within the sales process.  Throw out the notion of finding leads on facebook,  twitter or linked in…. it can be done.. but its not efficient and I have not heard of any real solid case studies where this has been done on a large scale.   There are a couple of companies that are interesting however Artiesian Solutions, Squirro, and Lattice Engines (Lattice was covered in Gartner Cool Vendor for Sales Report 2013)  are using Big Data and Social to sift through the mountains of social information internal and extermal to narrow down who is likely to buy something you selling.

This is interesting as this approach is not looking at social for social sake, and  spending hours and hours inside of these social sites interacting or sifting…  but using what is happening on social media, industry sites, blogs, etc and leveraging the data to pinpoint opportunities.

Social for sales is just that, letting the business world interact as it will… and using technology in the social world of sales to gather, develop and understand what is occuring, in real time and pushing it to the sales organization where it can be used to find and develop selling opportunities.


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Sales Performance Management is coming into its own…

by Patrick Stakenas  |  October 23, 2012  |  Comments Off

It seems that the days of sales organizations using purely Incentive Compensation Management (ICM) are drawing to an end as best of breed vendors build out their product suites to include elements of training management, behavioral management and coaching systems.  In a recent research by Gartner top best of breed vendors cited most ICM deals are accompanied by sales coaching and other SPM tools.. 

The marketplace is asking for more… and it is clear that sales performance management (SPM) now  represents a broader set of functionality, one that has operational and analytical capabilities for automating and integrating the processes and functions for managing salespeople and making them more effective and efficient is what is wanted and needed by sales leaders. A wider, more feature-rich SPM software/software as a service (SaaS) market has emerged from the sales incentive compensation management (ICM) vendor community in response to IT leaders’ demands for improved optimization of sales processes, targeted expectations, market coverage and compensation to support revenue growth and influence critical behaviors. 

Once you have a chance to read the Marketscope for SPM research note from Gartner, let me know your thoughts.

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Category: Chief Sales Officer Customer Relationship management Head of Sales Sales Performance Management Vice President of Sales     Tags: , , , , , ,

The End of Solution Selling? – Hardly…

by Patrick Stakenas  |  October 3, 2012  |  6 Comments

I have been meaning to write about an HBR article the was published last August on “The End of Solution Selling” and the referenced material in the comments that followed on line related to “The Challenger Sale”  The sales methodology or concept of “Challenger” has certainly stirred debate within the sales world and the interest of those swimming in the social pool of media that are carrying around the haunted nature of sales forces spiraling out of control, crashing and burning only to have the  next sales leader come along to douse the fire with the latest craze of sales training, methodology or technology. Every new concept sounds tasty to sales leaders who are looking for the “silver bullet” or the fresh way to drive more revenue. 

At the end of the day, there is no right or wrong answer.  Sales people must have the capability, competency and overall skill to sell.  And sales management must coach and teach them, marketing must make sure the message is clear and of course there must be a need for what you are selling. Ok, if you are selling a product to purchasing and all they are buying is price… a widget is a widget so to speak.. then a different skill may be needed than one selling complex consulting solutions or technology.  But either way, salespeople must understand their products, their company’s message, what problem or issues they solve and why they are better than the competition.

Customers want solutions to problems and answers to issues, and the advice that goes along with it. Salespeople must be engaged and prepared with the knowledge and the capability to offer this insight when needed.  There is no silver bullet, no one type of sales person that will be successful in all instances, different sales environments require different approaches, however the underpinning for all sales people is “adding value”, “having the capability” to add that value and the “competency” to deliver the message.

What are you seeing, breathing, living?  Is this a “Silver Bullet”?  Or is it really just a repackaging or spin on what successful leaders already know to be true.. Thoughts?


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Apply Directional Sales Analytics to Drive Success: Business Intelligence for CRM and Sales Leaders

by Patrick Stakenas  |  August 31, 2012  |  Comments Off

 Analytics, Analytics, Analytics…  take note if you are not building a model and leveraging “Actionable Data” that you are behind the eight ball. Sales management will respond to emerging developments and drive change in the sales process strategy by using the sales analytic frameworks. Sales leadership generally has the ultimate responsibility of increasing revenue and managing the sales productivity and effectiveness of the sales force. By utilizing directional sales analytics, sales leadership can track and better manage the many aspects involved to increase sales revenue and provide more predictable revenue and profitability outcomes. Through sales analytic frameworks, sales management will have the tools they need to better respond to emerging developments in the sales process, market and product changes and have the ability to drive change in the sales process strategy.

Utilizing directional sales analytics can increase sales revenue and provide predicted outcomes.

What are you doing to make this happen?

See Gartner note:   Apply Directional Sales Analytics to Drive Success: Business Intelligence for CRM and Sales Leaders

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What will the VP of Sales role look like in 10 years?

by Patrick Stakenas  |  July 18, 2012  |  2 Comments

The VP of Sales, Head of Sales, Chief Sales Officer… (pick your title) role continues to evolve and change as technology, processes and legislation continue to evolve.  10 years ago the sales organziation was run on spreadsheets and “Big Data” wasnt a term.  Mobile accessability was very limited, virtual offices were less prevelant and almost all training was done in a classroom. 

  • What will happen in the next 10 years?
  • What new knowledge, skills or expertise will be required?
  • What technolgoy or tools will be required to run a sales operation?
  • What skills will be deemed useless that we have learned to do the job?

What is your take on what the VP of Sales role will look like in 2023?


Category: Chief Sales Officer Customer Relationship management Head of Sales Sales Performance Management Vice President of Sales     Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Its all about the Sales Rep. SPM Sales Performance Management

by Patrick Stakenas  |  May 6, 2012  |  3 Comments

Preparing for the keynote on Monday morning and reviewing notes for the Callidus C3 conference tomorrow. It really is all about the individual sales person. Yes strategy is key, but at the end of the day it is the collective efforts of the direct, tele, contact center and customer service person who will make or break the number.  Every firm large and small must have people who are engaged with the business, have more than the necessary skill set, must know the products, the market, the competition… sounds basic… but perhaps we are back to the basics


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Sales Performance Management is coming on strong!

by Patrick Stakenas  |  March 24, 2012  |  3 Comments

I had numerous conversations this week that support how SPM is breaking  away from what has traditionally been considered CRM.  There is no doubt having an SPM strategy and using supporting  technologies can effectively and measurably improve sales revenue.



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