I can’t tell you how pleased I was with the launch to the San Francisco Social Media Breakfast. We sold out our tickets and had a great turnout of about 50 people–which is pretty remarkable for a 7:30am event in the city. But hey, the traffic and parking was a breeze. We moved the event a couple doors down from Cafe de la Presse to The Wine Bar, which was a much better venue both for networking, and for the presentation with Anneke Seley.
We kicked the event off with an hour of networking over coffee and breakfast, and I did a an interview with Anneke Seley, sort of in the style of Fresh Air, before opening up the conversation. We talked about Anneke’s background and depth of experience in Silicon Valley–she was employee #12 at Oracle and launched their highly successful inside sales group–and used that as the backdrop for talking about the industry trends that have led to Sales 2.0, and how that’s reshaping the way businesses build sales organizations.
We’ll be book talking Sales 2.0 in the next week or two, so I don’t want to steal the thunder from the discussion, but one concept really jumped out at me that I’ve been thinking a lot about the past few days. It builds from Anneke’s discription of the way the environment for selling in Silicon Valley has changed over the past decade, and how the change has impacted Web 2.0 adoption.
As Anneke tells it in Sales 2.0, back in the day when she joined Oracle, there was a major shift just getting underway in the valley. Traditionally, companies like Oracle sold only extremely expensive enterprise products and sales focused on developing large accounts. Sales people were at home in the field, wining and dining clients and racking up huge expense accounts. As Oracle started selling cheaper products that could load onto desktop PCs, smaller companies became viable prospects, meaning smaller accounts that couldn’t sustain the huge costs of an enterprise-focused sales force.
That trend has only accelerated. We now have companies of all sizes buying products online, and in the case of software, often for a monthly subscription fee with little or no switching costs. What this means is that the cost of selling has to be dramatically reduced. We need efficient ways to meet customers online, attract, inform, educate, and persuade them to buy our products, and the cost of that sale has to be well within the falling margins for product revenue. This is a business driver for social media that goes beyond the red herring of how trendy Web 2.0 may be, and whether or not it’s a passing fad.
If you want to follow the Twitter conversation from the event, you can pick up some good bits of dialog, not to mention some good follows. Also, Jeff Weinberger has a post up about an aha social media moment that happened during the breakfast–which is exactly what it’s all about.
Stay tuned for the book discussion. I passed out a half-dozen books to people who committed to reading it this week. We’ll check in on Friday and start the ball rolling.