There's been so much crap written about "everything 2.0", yet I've seen scant discussion, that is to say that there's really been NO discussion, on what "Sales 2.0" really means for the discipline of sales and marketing.
I've been thinking about this a lot lately. I'm delivering a course at a local tech college on Wednesday that's titled "Better Selling Through Technology", but that's really a user-friendly name for the bigger agenda of starting to spread the word on "Sales 2.0".
What changes in Sales 2.0? Well, I think there are a few key things. Keep in mind, this is a working document, so bear with me, not everything's gonig to hold water at this point.
- Sales reps have more control over the tools that they use; the CIO no longer makes one-size-fits-all technology decisions for the sales force
- Sales reps are taking customer communications into their own hands and to an entirely new level. Starting their own blogs, engaging in social networking and generally putting a friendlier face, theirs, on the corporate message.
- Web-app based mission critical tools such as instant messaging, salesforce.com, virtual assistants and online project management tools.
- Free or nearly free services as reliable, relied upon, enterprise tools. Free conference calls, blogging software and other free enablers, which once carried some stigma or were thought unreliable are enabling a new class of sales executive 2.0.
- Always on sales people. Broadband penetration among the ranks of sales professionals is much higher than even five years ago when we all 'dialed in' at the end of the day to check email. This opens up new possibilities for connectivity and real-time interaction
- Voice and email on par with one another. Blackberries and Treos now accompany many salespeople out into their rounds in the field. Customers have come to expect the same response time from whatever communique they send your way.
- End-user power. It's no longer just he buyer that's got influence. When innovation and ideas come from all over the enterprise, you never know when you next sale-influencer will come from.
Areas affected by Sales 2.0:
- Voice communications (VOIP, cell, Skype)
- Sales rep availability (always on)
- Conference calling (free)
- Sales force automation (web based)
- Customer communication (blogging, email)
- Customer community (wiki, jotspot)
- Project management
- email (mobile)
- IM (in office, sidekick, etc)
- Pre-call planning / customer research
- Collaboration (internal blogs, wikis, IM)
- Collateral (real time, PDF, POD (print on demand)
- Document authoring (web document authoring)
Sales 2.0 Vendor List:
- Sugar CRM
- I can remember back 7 years ago when it was a real novelty to research companies on the internet before a sales call. Between Yahoo and Hoovers there wasn't much you couldn't find, and it was really all you needed going in. Now, pre-call planning has moved from an episodic research endeavor to an ongoing conversation monitoring art. Sure, Hoovers is still relevant, but now we have Technorati, to keep up on the blog conversation about our customers (and us) and Google news alerts along with your prospects' RSS feeds. Now, pre call planning is not part of the evening ritual, it's an ongoing part of a sales executive's job description.
- Google news alerts
- RSS feeds & aggregators
- NewsGator, Bloglines
- Technorati.com search feeds.
- The day has arrived that customers have come to expect persistent availability. Asking customers to try your office, your cell phone, your pager or whatever other phone number you have is often too much to ask. Once only within reach of large corporations with enterprise phone systems, everyone from the medium size sales force to the solo sales rep can now take advantage of services that aggregate phone service, voicemail, call forwarding , fax and virtual PBX service for one low price.
- Vonage for basic voice over IP, call forwarding and retrieving messages through emailed MP3 attachments or from anywhere via a dial in number. You can even get different vonage numbers for each local that you serve, making it a local call for your customers.
- GotVMail Communications offers an virtual PBX, fax, call forwarding and a wide array of additional virtual services such as virtual assistant starting at less than $10 per month.
- Onebox.com (J2 company...owners of Jfax)
- Sure, Vonage is great, but it's not portable. Skype is. I recently talked to a friend who's a college recruiter working from his home office who is using Skype almost exclusively. Whether he's in a hotel, a coffee house, his own house, or visiting friends near the beach, his office phone is never more than a boot-up a way. Moreover, Skype now offers call forwarding, so if you happen to be using a cell phone or land line and don't have Skype turned on, it will forward to any number you choose.
- Skype - www.skype.com
- Also, Gizmo Project
Nice summary of the Sales 2.0 perspective from the salesperson's point of view. A companion point of view is that the community itself (the customers) can shape the sales process and conversation with ever greater power.
Check out "We Are Smarter Than We," the first networked book on business. This book will explore how the emergence of community and social networks will change the future rules of business, including sales. Find it and contribute at www.wearesmarter.org
Dana, I'm happy to contribute to this conversation on Sales 2.0. Seems to me that the "2.0" focus is on technology related to sales and it's certainly true that the technologies supporting sales functions are now in their second or third generation. So that's good news and sort of "2.0" in concept.
What's still missing in the conversation is the ability to define and manage the process of sales from a more strategic perspective. I'm still not hearing or seeing enough of that information. What I continue to see is more refinements about the actions, tactics, and toolkits that individual sales people can use, to deal with specific selling situations and particular prospects. In other words, we are still looking at the sales function on the basis of 'exception management,' rather than on the basis of process management.
If you were manufacturing products with that same philosophy, you would probably end up throwing away a lot of defective products, wasting a ton of money, and going out of business. That's what manufacturers got away from when they started to adopt quality management and Six Sigma principles.
I want to see the sales profession adopt some similar principles. So for me, Sales 2.0 includes:
1. Better clarity on the criteria used to define and qualify opportunities; criteria that are agreed upon by EVERYBODY in the company.
2. Better clarity on sales-stage definitions; definitions that are not ambiguous or subjective - and again are agreed upon by EVERYBODY in the company.
3. Better understanding of the value of selling time; ability to treat it as an investment so we can start to measure sales based on a Return on Investment (or Effort) benchmark.
There are a number of other issues that contribute to the productivity of a sales function. My hope is that these ideas become the drivers of Sales 2.0, and the concept is not isolated to technology.