Tacking “2.0” at the end of a term is shorthand for “new and improved,” usually with a social media slant. However, after attending a recent Sales 2.0 conference in San Francisco—an excellent and well-attended event hosted by Selling Power and Genius.com—I left with more questions than answers.
I asked several attendees, “What is Sales 2.0?” and got some quizzical looks and muddled replies. But they essentially told me it was about selling better with new tools. Nigel Edelshain, CEO of a consulting/services firm called Sales 2.0, told me he coined the term a couple of years ago to mean taking sales to the “next level” and turning selling into more of a science.
In “Sales 2.0 for Dummies,” a minibook by David Thompson of Genius.com given out at the event, Gerhard Gschwandtner (founder of Selling Power) is quoted as saying: “Sales 2.0 brings together customer-focused methodologies and productivity-enhancing technologies that will transform selling from an art to a science.”
Speakers tended to give Sales 2.0 advice like:
* be customer-focused
* get executive sponsorship
* define the sales process first
* use the right metrics
* choose/implement the right tools
Sorry, but I’m pretty sure I heard these tips in the first CRM conference I attended more than 10 years ago. Where is the “next-generation” part?
So, is Sales 2.0 new? Based on what I learned at this conference, not so much, except for the technology/tools. More on that in a moment.
Is Sales 2.0 social?
I think this is a fair and important question, because “Web 2.0” is a term that most associate with social media. Tacking “2.0” on the end of a term implies social, in my view.
However, I don’t think this is where most of the Sales 2.0 insiders are coming from. Many speakers acknowledged that the empowered social customer was changing the game for marketing and selling, but the main response seems to be to upgrade the same marketing/sales processes using new SaaS-based tools. Not much new thinking.
In other words, Sales 2.0 seems to be a reaction to social customers, but not actually selling socially. Does that makes sense?
With all due respect to the sales experts and vendors at the conference, if they want Sales 2.0 to mean actually being more social, they should read this intro from Sales in the New Enterprise from Social Media Academy.
Social media is a mind set with an underlying technology. It is NOT a new technique to push harder, get a “message out” or further automate internal business processes. Social media allows building a trustful environment that can dramatically improve the customer experience, create advocacy and develop a mutually beneficial business relationship.
Tools matter, and some can help you be social
All that being said, updated tools are indeed valuable. Genius.com and Marketo (exhibitors at the conference) are good examples of B2B marketing systems designed to engage customers online. Engage = social in my book. (See my recent article B2B Marketing 2.0: How to Engage Social Buyers and Break Marketing/Sales Gridlock.)
Also, there are a number of cloud-based services to provide information to reps, to help them find and close prospects. Some tap traditional/editorial sources (Hoovers) and others social media (InsideView) for customer information or help generate contacts/leads (Jigsaw, Salesgenie, ZoomInfo) using Web 2.0 technologies.
Nice services, but using information scraped from online databases or social media doesn’t necessarily mean the sales process is collaborative. Mining customer data isn’t being social any more than stalking is dating.
Improving sales science through analytics
Being more analytical is critical to bringing more “science” to the sales profession. And I don’t mean simple reporting like you see in most CRM/SFA applications. Real analytics means developing new insights, not just reporting what happened.
I had a long chat with Ken Rudin, VP of Market Development and co-founder of LucidEra, which provides SaaS-based business intelligence solutions. Ken has an impressive background in the BI world, running his own consulting firm, working at Salesforce.com in the early days, and then at Siebel and Oracle. LucidEra basically takes a Salesforce.com-like approach to delivering BI with a multi-tenant system.
He points out, and rightfully so, that marketing and sales automation tools are good at collecting and tracking sales data, but not so good at the analysis. Rather than just provide the raw technology, LucidEra creates applications targeted to optimizing sales efforts, to help answer questions like:
* What percentage of my revenue are my Top 10 sales reps responsible for?
* What is the trend of some of my key pipeline statistics over several quarters, by pipeline stage?
* What are the Top 25 late stage opportunities for the quarter?
* What is the trend of product sales by my lowest-performing sales reps?
OK, so not much social going on here, but good for those who position Sales 2.0 as being more scientific. Another more general purpose SaaS vendor that could help with sales analytics is Birst.
One more time: What is Sales 2.0?
Is Sales 2.0 new, improved or social? Based on what I observed at the conference…
1. Sales 2.0 isn’t all that new, except for the minority that really practice it in a social/collaborative way with customers and prospects. Too much old wine in new bottle.
2. Sales 2.0 is somewhat improved, but mainly by the use of the latest SaaS solutions. Updated tools are Good Things, but only as good as the skill of the user.
3. Sales 2.0 isn’t very social, at least not yet. But the concept is there, and I hope to see more progress in the coming year.
I asked Barry Trailer, a Sales 2.0 guru and managing partner at CSO Insights, for his thoughts on Sales 2.0. He said that leveraging new technology was one part of it, but that the other key was having a “conversation with the buyer.”
For those who want to learn more about what Sales 2.0 should mean, here’s a comparison from an excellent CSO Insights white paper Sales 2.0 Whitepaper: Part II — Think. Think Different. Think Again.
Sales 1.0 “is built upon the classic military model: Command, Control, Conquer.”
Sales 2.0 “has a different foundation: Collaborate, Choreograph, Capture. Capture wallet share. Capture customer loyalty. Capture the imagination of your buyers, your sales reps, your peers. Capture an idea.”
The journey to Sales 2.0 is underway. Sure, use the new tools. But don’t forget to really engage with buyers on the journey—because they’re very busy implementing Buying 2.0.