I am sitting at Denver airport because of weather delays and want to use this scrap time to share my thoughts. I spent the last week hiking in the Canadian Rockies and it seems that the perspective of higher altitudes leads to clarity about what's important.
Are you arming your team with Sales 2.0 tools?
If not, you may find yourself in a gunfight with a kitchen knife in your hand. Look in the rear view mirror. Three years ago, there were only 60 Sales 2.0 solutions on the market. This year there are more than 1,200 to choose from, and two years from now there could be 3,000 or more. It is no secret that we're hungry for better ways of managing our lives. Take a look at the astounding growth of iPhone applications. Apple announced only in February, 2008 that a third-party development kit would be available to application designers. A year and a half later, we can choose from more than 69,585 applications that have been created by more than 17,938 publishers. (Source: http://148apps.biz/app-store-metrics)
A similar trend is happening with Salesforce.com. The company offers 810 applications (http://sites.force.com/appexchange/home) designed to improve business productivity. Don’t let the growing number of applications confuse you. The average, world-class sales organization uses only about 6 to 10 different Sales 2.0 solutions. But if your company relies only on CRM, chances are that your salespeople are working too hard, that your response to the market is too slow and that your sales productivity is too low to compete effectively. What’s hurting many sales organizations is the fact that they don’t know what they don’t know. The bottom line: Selling could be a lot easier if ignorance wouldn’t stand in the way.
It’s not the technology that you use that’s important, it’s the technology that your prospects use.
Three years ago, customers still called when they needed information. Today they browse your Website. Question: Do you know when prospects visit your site? Do you know what pages they view? Do you know when they open a white paper, view a demo, or click on your customer success stories? Sales 2.0 tools like Genius.com can help you trace your customers' digital footprints on your site.
Salespeople are hunters; don’t force them to be hounds.
Three years ago, salespeople still searched directories for prospects, built their own lists, and sweet-talked the prospect company’s receptionist to find out who was in charge of buying a certain solution. This time-consuming process has long been replaced by Sales 2.0 enabled sales organizations. Today their salespeople benefit from services like those offered at InsideView.com, where they have instant access to corporate information, as well as social-networking information (Linkedin, Twitter, etc.) about their target. DowJones.com allows
salespeople to set news triggers that alert salespeople instantly when certain key events hit the airwaves, such as personnel changes, financial changes, or corporate changes. To help sales managers objectively compare the key suppliers in the lead-management field, Selling Power will publish a comprehensive sales lead management buyer’s guide in the September, 2009 issue.
If you nurture your leads, they will nurture your needs.
According to research conducted by RainToday, 50 percent of all leads in a sales pipeline are not ready to buy. Only 25 percent are sales ready, and another 25 percent are not qualified. Companies without Sales 2.0 tools employ salespeople who are chasing more garbage trucks when they should be chasing Brinks trucks. Lead nurturing is a process that can easily be automated. Here is a recent white paper that outlines the best practices for lead nurturing www.marketo.com/dg2-lead-nurturing. Some of this information is elementary. Readers are encouraged to make the data bite-size, match content to buying profiles and buying stages, and get the timing right. The key takeaway: Without lead scoring and lead nurturing, your business is unlikely to grow to its full potential.
Excel is like pedaling a bicycle. Xactly is like riding in a Ferrari.
When it comes to calculating sales commissions, most companies still use Excel spreadsheets. Excel is an ancient tool that was designed for the delay economy, in which people expected an administrative pause after every step in a company’s compensation process. The ugly secret about Excel sales commission management is that for every $100 companies pay, about $4 to $7 are lost to human error. Today, many companies have stepped up to a Sales 2.0 tool called Xactly.com. This SaaS solution works seamlessly with Oracle, Salesforce.com and SAP. Xactly.com also offers an incentive solution where salespeople can instantly track their quota attainment and check their current compensation and current incentive credits. Xactly is a Sales 2.0 solution that advances sales-performance management into the real time economy. That’s just one company that made recent headlines.
Salespeople who are looking for information are not creating customer value.
What do your salespeople need to know to close a sale? Company information, process information, customer information, product information, pricing information, industry information, competitive information, other customer application information, marketing collateral information, company presentation material information. The must-have information list grows longer every day. What do winning sales organizations do to keep the information mountain growing over their heads? Sales 2.0 solutions like Outstart.com connect company expertise to the sales organization in real time, online. The key idea: how to harvest and distribute the sales team’s “tribal knowledge” so that every salesperson can focus on closing deals instead of digging into the company’s forever expanding information silos. Other solution providers like Savo.com or Kadient.com are rapidly winning the hearts and minds of progressive sales leaders.
Get ready for real time information management.
One of the best examples of real time management is a free iPhone application called Midomi. It recognizes a song within seconds, lists the title and the name of the performer, and links to the Web page where you can read the lyrics. Like Amazon became the gold standard for fast and easy ordering of any merchandise, Midomi has created a new paradigm for getting information when you want it in real time. The wheels are turning in the minds of smart software engineers who have recognized that we’ve moved into “NOW” mode. The ultimate goal is to satisfy our curiosity instantly. Here is a
company that’s been in business for a little over a year called Aadvark (www.vark.com) This free online service allows anyone to ask a question about topics such as business, marketing, management, software etc. and within seconds you will receive a confirmation email, promising a response within a few minutes. The company’s mission is to find the perfect person to answer any question. I tested this by asking: “Does anyone know the best sales incentives for salespeople aged between 20 and 30?” Within two minutes I received an email from a sales manager in England who wrote, “Electronics, like iPods, cameras etc.” Vark.com claims that the service is available in more than 100 countries, and last month’s message volume hit 1.6 million. Fast forward three years, and you may recognize that this technology could connect any of your sales questions with the best answers collected in real time.
The Sales 2.0 bottom line.
The Sales 2.0 movement is accelerating at breakneck speed. As you read this, hundreds of companies are enhancing their sales organizations with Sales 2.0 solutions. Sales 2.0 technology alone is not the answer. The key to success is to match the right tool with the right process with the number one goal in mind: to increase customer value. Sales 2.0 is all about better alignment. It is about acceleration and closer collaboration, and it’s about establishing a culture of measurement – all in real time.
Turn your sales organization into a success organization.
Your greatest Sales 2.0 insights aren’t likely to come from Sales 2.0 vendors. One of the great characteristics of the Sales 2.0 movement is peer-to-peer learning. The best place to learn is the Sales 2.0 conference, where we don’t allow vendor pitches. We invite Sales 2.0 customers – VPs of sales, hands-on directors of sales operations, etc., to openly share how their needs became more urgent, how they searched for solutions and identified the most effective processes and technology tools. These sales leaders talk candidly about the implementation challenges and how they’ve measured the ROI. Here are two key resources: www.sales20.org and www.sales20conf.com/chicago.