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Stuck in the Delay Economy? What Sales Processes are Dead Today?

I’d love to get your views on the impact of Sales 2.0 technology on your sales organization. Read this post and share your experience.

What is Sales 2.0?

Sales 2.0 combines customer-focused processes with real-time Web 2.0 technologies to enhance the art and science of selling while creating customer value.  Cloud Computing has brought huge computing power, massive storage capacity that’s delivered on demand to any browser 24/7. The important part: the job of collecting and distributing data is done in real time. The even more important part: we’ve entered a new era, called Real Time Business. The revolutionary side of Sales 2.0 technology is that it empowers your salespeople to conduct business in real time.  

How many delays are built into your sales process?

Companies that have not taken advantage of real time Sales 2.0 solutions are hobbled by delays. Here are just a few examples of the obsolete sales processes that have been designed for the delay economy:

Cold calling – delays salespeople and prevents them from pursuing fresh opportunities in real time. Traditional telephone selling – salespeople are delayed by pressing dial buttons for hours spending little time with real live prospects. Traditional call preparation – salespeople are delayed by hunting for information in multiple data repositories, or delay other salespeople by soliciting their help finding information.

Real time technology kills processes that worked well in the delay economy. Here is a partial list.

The Cold Call is dead

Many sales organizations realize that a salesperson’s time should be spent creating value for their customers, not wasted by forcing salespeople to dial for dollars. Companies like InsideView, Hoovers, Salesgenie, Zoominfo, Jigsaw, Dow Jones and others offer salespeople the ability to find leads in real time, online. Some solution providers like InsideView are fully integrated with Social Media so that salespeople can leverage relevant, real time personal information about the prospect. Here is an interesting podcast by Sales 2.0 guru Nigel Edelshein: Don’t cold call – social call.

The traditional Sales Funnel is dead

Most companies create a step by step sales process for everyone to follow. While this process worked well in the delay economy, it no longer works in the real time economy. Mark Sellers, the author of the book The Funnel Principle says, “Create a buy-cycle funnel, a process that mirrors the steps buyers take in today’s business.” Another problem with the traditional sales funnel is that salespeople chronically misinterpret their chances of closing the sale. Example: Completed online demonstration: 75% probability. What if the prospect has used the time allocated for the demo to check emails? A better way to assess the buying potential is assess the sales potential based on real time feedback from the buyer. A quick survey emailed within minutes of the online demo can capture true buyer sentiments.

Sequential calling is dead

How many prospects do your inside salespeople reach during an eight-hour day? In the delay economy, salespeople create a call list for the day, and then dial one number at a time. Many times they call ten numbers in a row before they can reach one prospect. At the end of the day, they are worn out. They may have dialed 120 numbers and spoken to eight or ten prospects. A new Sales 2.0 technology called ConnectAndSell allows salespeople to upload their prospect file online. The service dials all numbers consecutively and the instant a prospect picks up the phone, the call is routed to the salesperson without delay – and all dialing stops instantly. Without time delay the prospects name appears on the screen, ready for a real time conversation. I wasn’t sure about the company’s claim of no time delay until I tried the service. I enjoyed speaking to 8 VP’s of Sales in one hour.

Delay in online lead follow up is dead

When customers visit your website and raise their hand. How quickly do you follow up on these leads? While most companies proudly say that they are following up the same day, they are oblivious to how many leads they fail to convert because by the time they reach the prospect, their minds are already a million miles away. Kellogg and MIT collaborated on a Lead Response Management Study that shows how the odds of calling to contact a lead decrease by over 10 times in the first hour. The study offers excellent insights as to the best times to call.

The sales pitch is dead

In the Real Time Economy customers want to hear about solutions that can create value within their unique business environment. We live in an age where co-creation rules. Customers don’t want to be talked at, they want to engage in an intelligent conversation with your company, and they will continue the conversation online on Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin. The traditional sales pitch has long lost its power. Smart companies offer their customers the opportunity to participate in micro-communities online. Instead of investing time pitching, they monitor the online conversations and instantly respond to emerging needs.

Duplicating information gathering is dead

In the delay economy salespeople called each other. “Hey, I need help with writing a proposal for the Energy Industry, do you have a template?” In the Real Time Economy salespeople go online and instantly find the information they need to satisfy customer requests. Sales Enablement technologies are designed to solve the common problem of having each salesperson go on a wild goose chase searching for information that other salespeople have already used previously with great success. Here is a list of companies that can help your sales organization capture and distribute the tribal knowledge of your sales team in real time: SAVO, Kadient, Streetsmarts, n-tara, iCentera, Avitage, SVA BizSphere and GroupSwim.

Typing call reports is dead

In the delay economy salespeople visited four or five clients per day; took notes on each call and at the end of the day they sat in their hotel room, eating pizza, watching TV, while transcribing their notes into Salesforce.com. In the real time economy, salespeople use http://www.ribbit.com. After each call they call Ribbit and their voice is converted to text which flows instantly into the appropriate record in Salesforce.com. Ribbit also converts voice mail messages into text so that salespeople can respond quickly without wasting time to listen to a long message. No time wasted transcribing by hand. Another real time call report service is available from Voice2Insight.

Management by hunches is dead

Protected by the forgiving environment of a delay economy, sales managers make decisions based on hunches. “Ok, let’s hire this rep; I have a good feeling about him/her.” Or, “The leads we get from marketing are useless. We need to generate our own leads.” Today, Sales 2.0 empowered sales leaders rely on real time analytics such as Business Objects, Birst, or Right90. Real time analytics give sales managers instant insight into their sales pipeline including lead conversion ratios, time to close and closing ratios by lead source. When it comes to hiring new sales talents, world class sales organizations use online assessment tools to sort out the best candidates from the existing pool of candidates. Companies like www.hrchally.com and www.caliperonline.com. Sales managers can save time by focusing their attention on pre-screened candidates and avoid costly hiring mistakes.

Calculating sales commissions by spreadsheets is dead

Managing sales commissions by XL spreadsheets leads to frequent disputes between salespeople and sales managers. Since the commission information is not available in real time, salespeople engage in shadow accounting, which wastes a lot of their time. Solutions like www.xactly.com take the guesswork out of calculating sales commissions. The moment a sale is made, the salesperson gets credited for the sale and the information is available online – in real time. What’s great about Xactly is when salespeople hit a performance goal; they can instantly browse for the corresponding incentive awards, select their prize and instantly get their award shipped. No delay between high performance and high rewards.

Sales and Marketing Silos are dead

In the time delay economy, sales and marketing were divided into silos. Marketing generated sales leads and tossed them over the dividing wall. Salespeople responded in unison: “These leads are worthless!” The results: real opportunities vanished. Genius.com blurs the dividing line between sales and marketing and allows seamless integration. Sales 2.0 solutions like Genius.com offer marketing automation, lead tracking, lead nurturing, lead scoring, email marketing, landing page tracking, real time website promotions and more. Other solutions are offered by Eloqua, Marketo and Manticore.

Live Sales Meetings will slowly vanish

Earlier this year, Mary Kay Cosmetics broadcast its first live satellite education event. In past years over 30,000 Mary Kay representatives flew to Dallas for a live event. This year, Splash Media LP, an Emmy Award winning video training and Communications Company located in Dallas broadcast the live training event to over 30,000 Mary Kay representatives who followed the live broadcast sitting in over 150 Cinemark, AMC and Regal movie theaters across the country. Leading companies with large sales forces like Cisco and Oracle (each employ over 10,000 salespeople) have decided to replace their live sales meetings with virtual training meetings this year. SAP followed suit. If these events prove effective, chances are that virtual meetings will become the wave of the future.

The above list is by no means complete. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Three years ago, there were only about 60 Sales 2.0 solutions, today there are over 1,200. I would like to get your feedback so we can help other companies move from the delay economy to conducting business in real time.

Questions: How has your sales organization adapted Sales 2.0 technologies? Compare the old process with the new process. What are the lessons you learned? What were the results you enjoyed?

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Brian Zanghi

Hi Gerhard,

Great summary of what's out there! If you take a step back and look at the many different steps involved between touching a prospect, to qualifying the prospect as an opportunity to engaging a sales rep and maximizing their value to the prospect (the lead to cash continuum) - it is easy to recognize the risk and cost of a poorly run qualification and sales process. Once the failure points are identified it’s not that hard to quantify the amount of money you are spending on sales and marketing and the potential loss of revenue opportunity - realized by better conversions.

The combination of the SaaS business model with vendors who 'get' the pressure to deliver value fast, provides a compelling argument to invest in your sales and marketing infrastructure. The cost of doing nothing is too high!

My company's investment is continuous and we are constantly collecting data to improve our conversion efforts. Our infrastructure is built on our own Playbook capability, Salesforce.com, Jigsaw/OneSource and Eloqua. We are currently engaged in a project with The Bridge Group which is focused on messaging and process and will soon be in a trial with Connect & Sell.

Our biggest challenge is driving towards better metrics aimed at converting the large volume of leads we are generating into more and more pipeline opportunity for our sales reps to manage. Frankly, it is difficult to attribute amazing ROI to any one vendor. In my opinion, it is better to analyze what is going well and what isn’t in your lead to sales process and leverage technology where you can to drive to better results.

I think the promise of Sales 2.0 is to speed up the process of converting market interest (prospect) to a ‘paid customer relationship’ – this is only accomplished by delivering customer value in a way that makes your offering a must have. Or as you put it – ‘Sales 2.0 combines customer-focused processes with real-time Web 2.0 technologies to enhance the art and science of selling while creating customer value.’ Well done! Brian Zanghi, CEO, Kadient

Robin Kinsey

I accidently fell into finding out about Sales 2.0. I was so intrigued by it; I started doing a massive amount of research on it and determine what would work best for the company I worked for at the time as Director of Sales. We started a blog and I had members of my team on a rotative basic to post a blog each week. We started an email marketing campaign; along with I encouraged all sales reps to leverage LinkedIn. I remember the first time the customer contacted the sales rep because they were interested in what he had to say was awesome!
I realized last year that it was necessary to change the way we find our customers. Now I have my own business, and Sales 2.0 is my number one plan to drive business to me.



Great article. You have pulled together all the "possibilities", for improving and changing your sales efforts in any size company. The challenge for any sales dept. now is to get management to see the value of change.

Personally, I have incorporated many Real Time Business practices into my sales process. The problem is that it is looked at as wasted time, and not effective. Change is a hard sell to traditionalists.

Social media is a great tool for brand awareness, and production promotion. It is also an excellent tool for training platforms. It allows me to hit markets that were previously over looked because it allows me to connect to people and form relationships, that then carry over into other fields.

The value of connecting with people vs. companies is hard to measure. In my industry, Hospitality, job changes annually are very common. At every level in the organization, people are moving. So to have a personal relationship with the decision makers as they move around the industry is a valuable (they do the purchasing) asset.

The moral of the comment is this...It's hard to teach old dogs new tricks.


Stephen D'Angelo

An obvious statement but one worth making.... Identify the critical areas on your sales org that need to be optimized and then implement those sales 2.0 technologies. $ and time is certainly an issue...and let's not forget to SELL.

Richard Lane

Great article that pulls together so many of the different Sales 2.0 strands. Thank you.

One of the key challenges I've experienced is finding the opportunity to "stop the world" for long enough to implement changes - targets don't disappear or get put on hold whilst you reinvent your approach to market, refine your sales methodology etc.

I agree change is always present but business carries on whilst technologies come and go and consolidate. Ideally the best ones will stick and will help us to listen to our customers more carefully and streamline the way we conduct business. Perhaps then the old habits will die.


Parker Trewin

Great stuff, Gerhard. I would add that Sales 2.0 extends to the Social Web and social networks as well. Now Sales and Marketing teams have the power to track these conversations that are occuring on LinkedIN, Twitter, and Facebook and connect those interested parties back to your website and company. It's pretty exciting stuff. Glad to see that the Chicago conference is focusing on this.

E. L. Sullivan

Mr Gschwandtner,
In your article you list many services $$ and a great deal of technology $$ as a part of what it takes to win. Does this mean that larger firms with more resources will have a great advantage over smaller firms? What advice would you give smaller firms to keep up with out breaking the bank?
Thank You.

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