Sales 2.0: Opening the Dialog

by Chris Kenton on March 10, 2009

At our first Social Media Breakfast in San Francisco, we spent time talking with Anneke Seley, author of Sales 2.0. One of our objectives with the SMB in San Francisco is to meet business authors, get to know a bit about their background experience and perspectives, and then extend the conversation online to discuss their ideas and their work. So we’re going to kick this off with Anneke Seley and Sales 2.0.

If you missed the Social Media Breakfast, you can catch some of the outtakes in the video below, filmed by my partners at MinerPro. John did a great job boiling over an hour of dialog down to less than 10 minutes of outtakes to capture some of the depth of conversation.

To kick the discussion off, I want to start by addressing the concept of what “Sales 2.0″ actually means. We’re hearing “2.0″ applied to all manor of things (Web 2.0, Enterprise 2.0, CRM 2.0, PR 2.0), and many people assume the moniker is synonymous with the social media technology that enables Web 2.0. But it runs a bit deeper than that. For some, this may be a penetrating glimpse into the obvious, but “2.0″ signifies a fundamental advance in an underlying system–a “major revision” in software terms, which is where the concept comes from.

It’s fascinating that we’ve boiled the meme of “fundamental change” down to a simple suffix, because it suggests we’ve arrived at a need to more simply indicate major transformations in systems that are fundamental to our daily life. It says that change is accelerating in its sweep through our institutions, and it establishes a clear line between the old and the new. The “new” certainly includes social media technology, and in fact, social media technology has been the major catalyst that set much of this change in motion. But to pin the meaning of the change on technology alone misses a much deeper reality: that these changes in technology are driving a fundamental transformation in the way humans interact, and in the way organizations function.

You can adopt all the Web 2.0 technology you want for your sales team, but that doesn’t mean you’ll get Sales 2.0. It’s not the technology, it’s how that technology changes the way we interact that people need to understand in order to get Sales 2.0. And that’s the opening question for this discussion.

How do you see technology changing sales processes and organizations, and how does that define what you understand as Sales 2.0?

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Aaron Ross March 11, 2009 at 1:48 am

There are a lot of definitions of Sales 2.0, but ultimately a big part about it is adapting to how sales & marketing works today – which isn’t how it worked before. The world’s moved from a dominant energy of “promotion” (sell sell sell, close close close!), to “attraction” (make your customers successful, and they will pull in more new customers). Classic smile-and-dial, brute force sales methods continue to lose effectiveness. My favorite metaphor here is squirrel feeding: you can make the squirrels (prospects) eat, you can only spread the tasty food around in places they’ll most likely find it, then step back to wait for them (the prospects) to make their move! I find the hardest part for salespeople and execs is the patience required, both to fully utilize Sales 2.0 tools and methods, and to wait while buyers move at their own pace.

Chris Kenton March 11, 2009 at 12:33 pm

Hey Aaron. Thanks for commenting. Those of you who read the Sales 2.0 book might recognize Aaron’s name–he was referenced a few times an important contributor to the book.

That’s an interesting point about the hardest part being patient with the pace of buying. Results are, of course, measured monthly and quarterly, and there’s a constant imperative to accelerate. So, I’m curious. Among those companies you’ve seen that are able to make this shift, what’s the “aha” moment, and how do they look at performance and metrics in any way different from companies that are impatient?

Adam Prewett March 17, 2009 at 2:43 pm

After reading the book I think Sales 2.0 is a new method for allocating resources, both human and technical, in order to serve your potential customers best at the lowest cost. It’s not about jamming new technology into an old paradigm, but rather redesigning your business operations to take advantage of new technologies as they arise.

Anneke Seley April 2, 2009 at 4:53 pm

Yes, Aaron was a major contributor of ideas and case studies for the book. Thanks, Aaron, for emphasizing the shift in mind set from “sell” to “make it easy for customers to buy”.

Adam, yes, innovative sales resource allocation is a big “aha” for many companies who follow a traditional face to face sales strategy rather than experiment with phone and Web selling to see if customers are willing to engage and buy that way (and it’s been shown that many customers prefer the efficiency of doing business without seeing a sales rep).

To answer Chris’s question, the “aha” moment comes after companies apply science to sales, implement and measure their sales process and consistently follow metrics over time. Over time, they can begin to forecast revenue predictably, which gives them confidence and patience. When key sales cycle metrics are known, a lower than average number of qualified leads moving into the pipeline or a slower than average conversion from pipeline to forecast can signal an impending shortfall that may be addressed with changes in marketing strategy or programs, sales training, or budget adjustments.

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