During my opening keynote speech at the Sales 2.0 Conference in San Francisco, I went out on a limb to make a prediction about the future of sales: of the 18 million sales jobs that currently exist in the U.S., I believe that only three million of those jobs will be necessary by the year 2020 (for more details watch my video interview above with Brett Clay, author of Selling Change).
Why did I make this prediction? The shift to a digital landscape has affected the B2B selling and buying process on almost every level. Sales 2.0 technologies have given rise to “Buyer 2.0,” who learns about products and services online -- well before talking with any sales rep -- and trusts peer endorsements on social media more than a sales pitch.
Now I believe we are moving into an era of what I call “Salesperson 2.0.” Based on information I heard during presentations and panel discussions last week, I've put together 6 success traits of this new breed of sales rep:
- Salesperson 2.0 is in-the-know about technology and is proactive about using Sales 2.0 solutions to become an overachiever. Derek Dean, Director of Sales Strategy at Reed Construction Data, told a story about how one of his average-performing sales rep began making more than 150% of quota, out of the blue. When upper management called the rep in to ask what he was doing differently, it turned out the rep had discovered Glance Networks and was using the solution for client demos to get remarkable results.
- Salesperson 2.0 goes where the buyers are. Statistics from Eric Berridge, Cofounder of Bluewolf, revealed that 70% of a customer's buying decision is made before a salesperson gets involved. All business processes have moved online, or are well on their way there. To remain competitive, salespeople need to be comfortable operating in the online world and show proficiency in their understanding of the way customers want to buy.
- Salesperson 2.0 knows how to engage prospects in a dialogue. Reps must be ready to engage in online conversations that are happening every day. The more salespeople can capture, initiate, or extend those conversations, the more successful they will be.
- Salesperson 2.0 excels in social media use. In our Social Selling University workshop with InsideView's Koka Sexton, Phone Works CEO Anneke Seley, Chess Media Group Cofounder Jacob Morgan, and others, it became clear that Salesperson 2.0 wants to work for a company that is innovating social selling practices. Christian Sutherland-Wong, Premium Subscriptions Product Manager at LinkedIn, said that more than 1 million companies have already adopted company LinkedIn pages for lead generation and prospecting purposes.
- Salesperson 2.0 uses the right devices to connect to buyers online. The gadgets of choice for Salesperson 2.0 include Smartphones and tablets. I noticed a huge rise in the use of tablet devices like the iPad among the 500+ sales leaders in attendance last week (FatStax Cofounder Rusty Bishop saw so many iPads at the conference that "it was almost shocking"). Many of our sponsors were using iPads as free giveaways at their booths.
- Salesperson 2.0 uses video to communicate. Dave Fitzgerald, Executive VP of Brainshark, declared that retention rates rise from 10% if the message is spoken, to 65% if viewed in video. Video solutions like Brainshark, Veeple, or VSee are making messaging and team collaboration more accessible and engaging than ever.
Sales leaders cannot ignore that we are living in a real-time environment where information delays stand in the way of sales success. We are moving from a “me culture” to a “we culture,” where a higher level of democracy rules among sales teams. A sales manager’s conversations with his or her team need to integrate all levels of existing knowledge so that "Salesperson 2.0" best practices can be shared across the board.