Internet technology known as Web 2.0 has created new ways of interacting, collaborating, and information sharing. The rapid growth of the most successful companies in America reflects the revolution of Sales 2.0 that, on one hand, creates a significant competitive advantage to the savvy adopters, while on the other hand threatens the survival of those who are unaware or reluctant to change.
The Internet is turning traditional selling into a sales office in the cloud, where all stakeholders – prospects, customers, salespeople, managers, and marketers – can connect, pitch, view, learn, plan, analyze, engage, collaborate, and conduct business in ways that were not even imaginable a few years ago.
Since I first got involved in the Sales 2.0 Conference in 2007, I’ve realized that technology is a powerful driver of change; however, the ways in which companies have adapted Sales 2.0 technology to create more customers is just as revolutionary. One of the biggest surprises was the realization that companies that have invested in Sales 2.0 have leapfrogged their competition, even though their competitors had superior products.
To avoid becoming a victim of change, it is important to understand the major shifts that have taken place in the art and science of selling. Below are four major shifts in selling and ideas on how you can win through change, rather than become a victim of it. (Discover more at the next Sales 2.0 Conference.)
Shift # 1: From a delay economy to a real-time economy
What it means: In the past, a business would grow faster by cutting out the middleman. In the Sales 2.0 world, businesses grow faster by cutting out time delays caused by inefficient processes or human error.
A notable example: Amazon has created a real-time sales process. The customer can see the product online, examine a sample, compare customer ratings, read customer comments, receive a discount, order with one click, split payments between two credit cards, and track the order status. Amazon has completely automated the sales function and effectively eliminated the need for salespeople. There is no salesperson needed to make calls, no inbound sales team, and no human transaction delay. Amazon is the gold standard for real-time selling.
The new mind-set: Speed ensures survival. The fast eat the slow. If the slow fail to adapt, they will become a victim of change.
Action step: Automate all sales, marketing, and sales-management processes that fit three major criteria: A) quickest, B) easiest to implement, and C) highest ROI.
Notable Sales 2.0 technologies:Big Machines, Xactly.com, Inside View, ConnectAndSell, Salesforce.com, Jigsaw
Shift # 2: From command and control to an open conversation
What it means: The Internet has shifted the power from sellers who used to control the information about products and services to buyers who go online and begin to discuss, compare, rate, and share advice about these products and services. Companies that ignore or refuse to join the online conversation will become a victim of change while their competition grows.
Notable conversation examples: @DellOutlet has more than 1.5 million followers on Twitter and achieved over $2 million in sales. Virgin America offers in-flight wireless access. The company has more than 48,000 followers. VA employees track customer comments and respond quickly to their concerns, and they can often resolve issues while the passenger is still in the air.
The new mind-set: Growing sales require growing conversation communities.
Action step: Ditch the pitch. Learn how conversation platforms evolve. Join the conversation. Listen to the conversation. And then lead the conversation. Create a winning social-media strategy.
Suggested technologies: Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, Slideshare
Shift # 3: From management by hunches to management by science
What it means: Sales 2.0 technologies offer metrics that lead to greater insights, allowing managers to make better decisions that increase the productivity of their sales and marketing organization.
Notable examples: In the past, sales managers relied on their instincts for hiring salespeople. Today, sales managers use online testing services to scientifically appraise the talents of their candidates and cut hiring mistakes by 50 percent or more. In the past, sales managers relied on guesswork when forecasting sales. Today, they use analytics to achieve 95 percent or better forecasting accuracy. In the past, salespeople relied on their guts when deciding which lead to call on first. Today, marketing automation offers lead scoring and lead nurturing, which cuts waste significantly.
The mind-set: Any sales or marketing function can be improved by associating each process with the right metrics.
Action step: Create a culture of measurement. Explore sales applications that offer dashboard views, which allow you to hold your salespeople accountable for the results they produce.
Suggested technologies:Right90, Business Objects , Xactly.com, Marketo
Shift # 4: From working in independent silos to interdependent collaboration
What it means: In the past, managers worked in offices that had four walls, doors with nameplates, and departments that worked in silos. Today, companies use open offices, and people work in teams that are eager to collaborate and win. In the past, sales and marketing departments operated in separate silos, and marketing passed leads – that were never followed up on – to the sales department.
Notable collaboration examples: Wikipedia is a product of intelligent collaboration. Wikipedia exists in 262 languages, and English-speaking users have created more than 3 million articles. At Ariba, sales and marketing work closely together to create more than 24,000 sales leads a year, which fuels the company’s growth.(Listen to Ariba’s VP of Sales and VP of Marketing)
The mind-set: The human spirit is designed to collaborate. The Internet compressed the world to the size of a computer screen, empowering people to learn, share, and contribute and co-create better solutions.
Action steps: Turn selling into a process of cocreation, in which salespeople generate solutions with their customers. Move your sales-intelligence assets into the cloud, harvest the collective intelligence of sales and marketing team members, and share best practices across the sales organization. Use Sales 2.0 solutions to eliminate sales and marketing silos, and watch your sales grow through sales and marketing alignment.
Suggested technologies: Kadient, Cisco, Adobe, Marketo