Sales Enablement in a Sales 2.0 world

How Enterprise 2.0 Sales Teams Will Use Social Networks

Posted in Uncategorized by salesenablement on July 13, 2010

On Mar 24, 2010, Len Rosen wrote How Enterprise 2.0 Sales Teams Will Use Social Networks:

“Are private social networks becoming entrenched in Enterprise 2.0 businesses with sophisticated sales forces? “We’re not there yet,” states Jennifer King, Director of Sales, Central Region for SAS Canada, the leader in business analytics software and services, and the largest independent vendor in the business intelligence market. SAS is one of many software companies involved in complex solution selling. “Our sales teams are knowledgeable with many years of experience,” states King. “They are just getting their feet wet when it comes to understanding public social networks.”

SAS in many ways is an Enterprise 2.0 business. But it is still getting its head around the tools of social networking. King states, “We have invested in a lot of communication tools including email, bulletin boards, internal chat, blogs, and SharePoint for document sharing. But we have yet to embrace social networking internally.”

At Avnet, an international distributor of electronics, computing and storage products, and a company that is embracing Enterprise 2.0, Charlie Babb, Vice President of Sales and Marketing states, “the answer to every single sales challenge we face already exists somewhere in our company.” Babb recognizes that mining that information is critical to sales success. He asks, “How do we go get it? How do we synthesize it? How do we improve it? How to we get it out to the field? How do we update it?”

SAS and Avnet have been using technology to support sales for many years. They along with many other companies have embraced today’s CRMs, software tools that are great at capturing lead demographics and tracking sales cycles. Knowledge sharing tends to be vertical, that is, sales managers can see what is occurring through report roll ups usually to some kind of dashboard. But CRMs are inherently clumsy when it comes to cross-fertilizing knowledge from one member of a sales team to another.

When Social Networks Interact with Sales DNA

Think about the social networking experience on a public platform like Facebook. Information can be shared in many conversations whether you create a discussion, post something to your wall, or respond to someone else’s posting, view a friend’s video, write your own blog or comment on a friend’s blog. Now translate this functionality into a sales department. Are sales people willing to be a friend to others? When I entered sales 37 years ago it was clear to me right from the start that I was in competition with every other sales person in my company. This competition was company fostered. Rewards were never given for sharing. Every year the best of us survived the “cut” to continue selling. The worst of us got “pink slipped.” Knowledge sharing was not in our sales DNA. But every sales manager wants answers to the questions that Charlie Babb posed, and one way of fulfilling that goal is through the deployment of a private social network.

Two years ago I was approached by a company here in Canada that had 400 locations coast-to-coast, a central office in Winnipeg, and regional offices in all 10 provinces and the 3 territories. The sales force was 4,000 strong. Imagine creating a network for knowledge sharing and cross-fertilization of ideas for such a distributed army of individuals, many of them working from home offices with their only connection electronic using the phone and Internet.

I sat down with the VP of sales and asked him what were the challenges within his organization. One was harvesting the knowledge that existed within the staff. Another was spreading the knowledge wealth. A third was retaining staff. The company had web resources, email and other means of electronic communications but they didn’t have a social network. The company had a tradition of rewarding peak performers, not just for sales success but also for attaining levels of certification based on taking company-sponsored programs.

This is the perfect scenario for deploying a private social network framework with all of its communication attributes. Enable Consultants, a Toronto-based software developer, encounters many of these types of companies. Faith Exeter, President, remarks, “Organizations need a way to harvest collective wisdom that is friendly, informative, engaging and fun, and serves to meet revenue and other business objectives.” Enable builds many different types of private social networks, each meeting particular industry or market niche requirements. “We find when we talk to marketing people, who tend to be younger and digital natives, they immediately grasp the value inherent in implementing social networks inside the firewall.”

However, Exeter goes on to state, “getting sales departments to buy-in takes considerably greater effort largely because they tend to rely on past experience as their model. And experienced sales people tend to be digital immigrants, not as savvy or accustomed to social networking and its uses.”

In an Enable sales social network every sales person has a profile, a personal calendar, a bulletin board for receiving short messages, a blog, a place to store documents, a place to upload videos and pictures, chat, and receive and send email. Every sales person can be partnered with a team. Interaction is encouraged and rewarded through a point system with points given for online participation and group interaction. Knowledgeable sales people acts as content experts and through sharing information with knowledge seekers receive rewards.

Sales 2.0: The Rise of Social Capital

The adoption of social networking in sales organizations has recently been given a new name, S2.0 or Sales 2.0. The implementation of a private sales social network changes communication. Company sales knowledge gets quickly disbursed. When a knowledgeable sales person answers a question the information is not only read by the person asking the question but is captured for all letting other sales people view the results or enter key search words to see the answer and other answers of similar relevance.

In a sales social network answers can come from unlikely sources. Employees who may be quiet in a meeting may feel empowered when in a virtual space, sharing knowledge that is uniquely held. These are the hidden gems within your organization that a social networking application can mine.

Insights from known knowledge workers can be flagged by the application with automatic system alerts going company wide whenever they post something new. Instructional videos can be posted online, accessible anytime, anywhere. Sales departments can build best practices wikis, or industry-specific documentation shareable company-wide. The knowledge shared internally can be made available to externally, giving selected customers and prospects access to important information to help them make buying decisions. Postings can go mobile as well making any cell phone a knowledge resource.

For companies who have sales teams that are multi-generational, facilitating communications using the media that is most comfortable represents a real challenge. Baby Boomers get email. Digital natives, those in their 20s and early 30s, use instant messaging, texting and social networks. For young workers email is communication for old people. Social networking and all its many communication tools is where it’s at.

In the Miller Heiman report, “Megatrends That Will Impact The Way We Manage Sales Organizations,” it states:

“today’s young social networkers are tomorrow’s salespeople. Having grown up with social networking, they’re likely to continue relying on this way of communicating and collaborating throughout their careers.”

The report refers to the collective value that social networking provides as “social capital,” almost as important to an organization as intellectual capital. They conclude, “Organizations with rich social capital enjoy access to venture capital and financing, improved organizational learning, the power of word-of-mouth marketing, the ability to create strategic alliances, and the resources to defend against hostile takeovers.”

About the Author

Len Rosen is a Toronto-based consultant working with companies on the use of technology to enhance small business productivity. He has a particular interest in the business application of social media and social networks. Len has been at it for 36 years. He is a contributing author to a number of web sites and publishes his own small business technology blog.

Social Media Marketing for B2B – A podcast interview

Posted in Uncategorized by salesenablement on June 7, 2010

I just listened to this podcast interview with Paul Dunay from Avaya on social media marketing for B2B (SMB) by Chris Herbert, from June 4, 2010:

Producers: Chris Herbert, B2B Specialist & Founder of Mi6 and Donna Papacosta
Industries: Cross industry with emphasis on hi-tech
Audience: Senior Leaders, Marketing/Sales managers and professionals

Welcome to our second episode of “The B2B Specialists” podcast series. A series dedicated to having and sharing interesting conversations with professionals in our field.

Here’s the link to listen to the podcast with Paul Dunay, Donna and myself.

In this Podcast Episode

What’s new in B2B marketing for 2010? We dive right in to a conversation with Paul Dunay, Global Managing Director of Services and Social Media marketing for Avaya. (see below for more details about Paul). We talk about how social media is being used in B2B marketing and sales both at Avaya and in general.

Show Notes

00:49 We welcome Paul Dunay who tells us a little bit about his career, publishing endeavors and educational background.
02:35 Paul talks about what’s new in B2B marketing. The conversation includes:Linkedin and SEO; Facebook advertising; Mobile marketing “grows up” and the role a corporate web site plays vs “offsite content”.
05:10 We talk about how some companies are neglecting their web sites. Sites need to be current and a content production schedule should be in place. Paul’s advice: “Think like a publisher. Plan what content you will produce and over what time frame”.
07:10 We talk about how a blog platform, like WordPress, is an ideal platform to use to produce a website, especially for small to midsized businesses. It’s a “swiss army” knife for web marketing.
08:19 Paul gives some great examples of how Facebook can be used for B2B marketing.
14:00 The conversation turns to the adoption of social media. Where should a company start and how to measure ROI? What Paul is doing to show ROI at Avaya.
18:23 We talk about Avaya’s use of Twitter to support customers and how advocates (loyal customers) are helping support Avaya in return. These brand ambassadors act as unofficial spokespersons for Avaya. They can also become formal references and case study candidates.
22:55 Paul talks about how he shows examples of Twitter conversations to members of the Avaya management team so they can see the positive impact they are having on the Avaya brand. This helps turn social media skeptics into believers. One twitter conversation led to a customer purchasing an Avaya systemin less then 15 days.

About Paul Dunay

Paul Dunay is the Global Managing Director of Services and Social Marketing for Avaya, a global leader in enterprise communications, and author of Facebook Marketing for Dummies (Wiley 2009). Paul is an award winning business to business marketer and publisher of the blog Buzz Marketing for Technology. Paul is on our “A” List of B2B marketers.

Links of Interest

Paul’s Blog
Paul on Linkedin
Paul on Twitter
Blog post on Linkedin and Search Engine Optimization
Avaya’s Customer Support Twitter account

Market Intelligence Information

Posted in Uncategorized by salesenablement on March 28, 2010

BidManagementTools.org posted ‘One Company’s Approach to Marketing Intelligence’, on March 26, 2010:

“[…]

Market Intelligence Is More Accessible Than Ever

Thanks to improvements in technology and to the social Web, even bootstrap/small companies can cost-effectively access and process market information.

Examples of relatively, inexpensive easy-to-use sources of market information include highly-specialized blogs, search engine analytics, off-the-shelf customer relationship management (CRM) and sales enablement systems, and hybrid solutions that integrate basic functions from several of these technologies to help businesses determine what’s working and then replicate success.

Larger, better-capitalized companies have even more options. They can purchase better systems, and they can afford the human resources to make better use of the systems already in place.

But Resources Are Tighter

Still, everyone is trying to do more with less. Which means that companies that formerly invested in market intelligence as well as strategic and tactical marketing are now figuring out where to make cuts. If the want ads are any indication, many smaller companies are beefing up marketing communications at the expense of strategy and market intelligence.

On the other hand, some of the larger companies are taking the opposite approach. One sales executive told me recently: “A few years ago, we had lots of opportunities and pursued those that were easy to close. Now that everyone has to justify every penny they spend, we really have to understand and communicate our unique value to even get in the door.”

Consequently, his company has stepped up its market research and invested in honing its value propositions in each of its major market segments. […]”

See the full blog post and leave your comments here.

See below my and my employer‘s view on the information architecture for Sales Enablement where Market Intelligence (MI) and Competitive Intelligence (CI) have their place as well as value propositions for each industry vertical etc…:

information architecture for sales enablement

We don’t just need more information – we need more information organized in a way that helps to get the job done faster

Posted in Uncategorized by salesenablement on March 28, 2010

web 3.0 with BizSphere

The following is a collection of posts from around the blogosphere that make the case that we need to improve on how we organize the firehose of information every B2B enterprise aims at its sales reps (especially in times of web 2.0 / sales 2.0 / enterprise 2.0). My employer SVA-BizSphere AG thinks that semantic search (web 3.0) and providing context in which you can filter down to what is relevant to you, are the approach to take to overcome information overload.

‘Winning in the New World of B2B Sales’ by Sham Sao, CMO InfoGroup’s OneSource:

“Before you can win over your prospects with your charming personality and deep knowledge of how to address their business needs, you need to first open the door by getting in contact with them and holding their attention long enough to get them hooked – or at least hooked enough to continue the conversation. Sure it’s true that effective sales professionals need to be persistent, knowledgeable and confident, self-motivated and good listeners. But these qualities alone are not enough.

They also need accurate information that helps them get to the right person and gives them something valuable to say right out of the gate.

In a recent B2B SalesPulse survey conducted by Infogroup’s OneSource, sales professionals responded that they are relying on business information significantly more today compared to a year ago. It confirms that business information is becoming more and more critical for B2B sales. Using accurate, timely business information is especially important for sales professionals today who are under pressure to raise their quotas while sales staffing and resources remain tightly constrained, or are even being cut.

While sales teams need to access every relevant piece of information they can get from every source they can tap, they don’t just need more information – they need more information organized in a way that helps them get their job done faster. When sales teams spend inordinate amounts of time browsing the web and searching for those tidbits to help them get into the right company or to make a compelling pitch, they spend less time selling. The key is making this information actionable so sales reps can spend more time selling and less time researching.

This includes information from Social Media sources. Respondents to OneSource’s B2B SalesPulse survey rated LinkedIn as the most useful social networking tool, followed by blogs, Facebook and Twitter in that order (and closely grouped together). LinkedIn also showed the most growth with 48 percent of respondents saying they are using it more now versus a year ago. Surprisingly enough, even though LinkedIn showed the most growth, nearly a third of respondents are still not using it. […]”

Please see the full post and leave your comments here.

Sort of along these lines is the post ‘#6: Focus on Internal Sales Enablement and Cutting to the Chase’, from March 25, 2010:

“Keep the emphasis on quality of collateral and programs, not volume. By providing Sales with top-notch materials and in-depth brand knowledge, they’ll be better positioned to do their job successfully and bring in new business.

Some companies, as the Senior Director of Services Strategy at one large technology corporation points out, have implemented a whole playbook program – internal prospecting, packaging content together, streamlining messages – to deliver content succinctly.

Better organization of what is already out there makes it more usable and digestible in the field,” allowing Sales to get to the point quicker and, in turn, touch more prospects and generate more sales. […]”

I have not double checked the following numbers I found in the post ‘Sales people who research cost you big time!’:

“[…] So, what is the actual hourly value for a B2B salesperson? We’ve developed an excel calculator to help do the math. Let’s use a typical experienced B2B enterprise salesperson at a software company and apply these sample figures:

  • Annual compensation (at plan, or meeting quota): $200,000
  • Benefits Paid (20% of a 70K salary): $14,000
  • Annual Quota: $2 million
  • Include 2 weeks vacation and holidays

This salesperson’s true “hourly value” is $1,198!

For companies with higher quotas (I’ve seen annual quota’s as high as $14 million), this figure is even higher!

If you’d like to figure out your own salespeople’s hourly value, send me an email at silvia@industrygems.com and I will email you the calculator.

The next time you see your salespeople doing research, take interest. Using salespeople for anything other than selling, negatively affects your bottom-line. Find ways to remove those activities from their daily to-do list. It could be costing you over $1,000 an hour! Your sales people must focus on the thing they do best… selling!”

Let’s look at the Knowledge Management or Sharing aspect of Sales Enablement

Posted in Uncategorized by salesenablement on March 28, 2010

sharing experiences in context in BizSphere

On March 27, 2010, Sumeet Moghe (@sumeet_moghe) posted ‘Enterprise 2.0 – Community Spaces can lead to Walled Gardens’ at LearningGeneralist.com:

“[…] community spaces are not only overhyped, but also if done incorrectly, a deterrent to knowledge sharing. This is a spin-off from Andrew Mcafee’s concept of walled gardens. Let me explain this through a scenario:

  • Company Foo establishes a knowledge sharing platform that allows every group of people to create their own space, with a separate set of access privileges.
  • The platform doesn’t have a way to search across different spaces, because every space is almost like a site in itself.
  • Soon, different groups of people (communities) set up ‘community spaces’ and restrict access only to members of the community. Sales has their own space. Technology has a separate space. Marketing has their own space. Support and Evolution has their own space. The story goes on.
  • One fine day a new salesman trying to put together a proposal needs information about:
    • Company Foo’s previous work in the space;
    • case studies of successful deployments in the domain;
    • Company Foo’s track record and capability supporting this kind of work;
    • and the various technology platforms they have expertise in
  • Given that each community has it’s own space (walled garden), the new salesman doesn’t have a way to search across all communities for the information he needs.
  • Over a painstaking few days, the new salesman eventually finds all the information he needs by signing in to every individual community space and searching separately on each space. He has to wait a couple of days before he gets approval to join a couple of community spaces, and that delays his proposal.

We could go on with this story but I guess you can see how tough things can be when every community builds their own isolated knowledge sharing space. Community knowledge can never become organisational knowledge this way, and over a period of time, the system becomes extremely difficult to manage. This is the classic nature of walled gardens in the enterprise.

Tear down the walls first

Organisational knowledge sharing can do without walled gardens. What we need instead is one place for all communities to share knowledge and the structure to emerge from user generated tags and metadata. This is where a certain bit of knowledge housekeeping comes in. I believe that leadership and knowledge management teams need to strongly discourage internal groups and communities from creating inaccessible islands of knowledge. There needs to be a strong incentive to contribute knowledge to one platform, that is powered by search.

Yes, there’ll always be the need to have team wikis and collaboration spaces. This is where it becomes important to clearly define the scope of team collaboration and organisational knowledge and create some clear (but porous) boundaries between the two. Which is to say for example, that it’s absolutely OK for a team to set up their own wiki or workspace and do so with minimal friction, but when some team knowledge becomes organisational wisdom the team has the incentive to contribute to the organisational knowledge base. The challenge for knowledge managers is to make this contribution as easy as possible so that people don’t have to make the same effort twice and the structure doesn’t come in the way of knowledge sharing.

My beliefs about post-modern Knowledge Management

In my current world view, I have a few beliefs:

  1. Enterprise knowledge needs to be public (to all employees) by default and private only if there’s a very, very good reason for it.
  2. Knowledge sharing needs to move from being part of closed channels to open platforms.
  3. People should have a choice to collaborate privately, but have the support to easily make their private knowledge public.
  4. Discussions and conversations should get organised using tags and metadata as against separate mailing lists and groups. People should have the option to subscribe using email, but this shouldn’t be the default.
  5. Knowledge managers need to define, maintain and protect the structure of ‘no initial structure’. The structure should emerge over time using tags, ratings and user input. This however needs continuous involvement with all communities and is by no means easy.
  6. Content stewardship is key — things don’t happen on their own. Knowledge managers need to keep their eye out for quality content on private channels/ spaces. They need to have the agility and presence of mind to move this to being organisational knowledge with a strong incentive for the authors. This is essential to the process of long lasting change.”

content intelligence via SVA BizSphere AG's Content Landscape

On the topic of keeping track of quality content (Which collateral works, which doesn’t? What is being downloaded, rated or commented on the most? Which author should be rewarded for successful content? Which area only has content that is older than two years? Etc…) I recommend the following further reading on content intelligence.

On the topic of email subscriptions I would remind not to forget offering an RSS feed, which for some people is preferred over email subscriptions especially in case there are a lot of updates.

On the topic of letting users tag their content and having a good search engine, I would like to add the importance of aligning the information architecture in an enterprise, which could mean that in addition to free tags everything also needs to be tagged with the names of applicable offerings, services and solutions from the enterprise’s portfolio.

Sales 2.0 may put you out of business

Posted in Uncategorized by salesenablement on March 18, 2010

On February 4, 2010, @3forward / 3forward.com posted ‘Sales 2.0 May Put You Out of Business’:

“Dan and I recently hosted a brainstorming coffee meeting with a couple business owners considering dipping their toes into sales 2.0, in this case weekly blogging, modest social networking and establishing an entry level in-bound lead generation programs.  They could clearly envision the potential benefits once things were up and functioning, but still were not ready to pull the trigger on this overhaul to the way they have always sold.

Their reasons for delay were the same objections many others have when considering these new tools and new model for selling.  Those being: time to learn both what to do and how to do it; concern they won’t have enough value-added content to make it work and the lack of internal resources to launch and manage the new operation.

What I’m afraid may not have sunk in during our talk is that not participating in this new customer engagement and acquisition model is conceding to a guaranteed demise.   That some industries and segments are not as far along as others is the only thing saving some of these companies who fail to recognize or admit to what’s happening in the marketing and sales world.

Bottom line: the time is fast coming when you won’t be able to hire enough reps, make enough cold calls or push enough brochure-ware to keep your revenues above the breaking point.   As more and more buyers (business, consumer, small, large, etc.) move to ‘Buying Process 2.0’ every industry will eventually reach the stage where those suppliers not active, participating and engaged in the new marketplace will become irrelevant.

For more on what’s changing and the impact it’s having, here are a couple excellent blog posts by some other leaders in this movement that we follow.

Could Sales 2.0 Turn Your Company Into a Victim of Change?

The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing No Longer Apply

Please leave your comments on the original post.

Reputation 2.0

Posted in Uncategorized by salesenablement on March 18, 2010

A fellow Torontonian, Tibor Shanto posted ‘Reputation 2.0′ on his blog SellBetter.ca/blog/, on March 18, 2010:

Your Reputation Gets Around Even When You Don’t!

When I was young(er) and just entering corporate life, I was lucky enough to meet someone who left a profound impression on me and my professional life since. He told me, “When you first come in to business all you have is your reputation, and you spend the rest your career maintaining it. If you lose that you have nothing at the end, not matter how much wealth you accumulate along the way”.

This was valid in the pre-web days, but this advice is that much more relevant today in the Web 2.0 days or for those of us in sales, Sales 2.0. At a time when information truly moves at lightning speed, you can both enhance and ruin your reputation in an instance.

On the down side, your buyers are much more connected than ever, they are aware not only things you want them to know, and as much aware of things you always hoped they would never know. Most sellers work hard at influencing their clients, creating an impression of their product, their company and themselves in the process, and while their good deeds are carried across the social waves, so are and indiscretions or simple faux pas, at time with much greater velocity.

Sellers need to be much more conscious and conscientious about their “social media footprint”. Unlike what many want to believe, there is no separation between their personal and business related Web 2.0 or Sales 2.0 activities, it is all one stream. We do not have the comfort of looking all very prim and proper on LinkedIn while “letting our hair down” (or other things) on Facebook. It is no longer a novelty for companies to check out these and other sites when considering potential candidates for positions, or vendors and sellers when it comes to deciding on a purchase, it is SOP.

It goes a lot further than that, it does not take much to see what you Digg and how that jives with the image you are projecting with your buyer. A disconnect there can only lead them to believe that you are disingenuous and may not be worthy of their business. And they don’t even have to make much of an effort, there are companies that are happy to do it for them for a nominal fee.

Some may argue that this is not right, what you do in your personal time is your business and should not affect you as a seller, wrong Dorothy, it does. This isn’t about the “business you” and the “private you”, especially if you are always preaching that people buy from people, yes they do, and now they have a way of seeing the “entire you”, not just the “9:00 to 5:00 you”. This is also not about being right or wrong, as a friend of mine always asks me “do you want to be right, or do you want to be rich?”, in sales you want to go with rich.

It doesn’t take a lot to guard and be smart, you don’t have to “compromise” or “give in to the man”, you just need to be smart and prepared, which is a basic tenet in sales anyway, so just extend it to your “social media footprint”. As we said up top, “Your Reputation Gets Around Even When You Don’t”, so make an effort to keep an eye on it.

Please leave your comments on the original post.

Tibor Shanto’s post reminded me of a talk given by Mitch Joel in February 2010. Here is the beginning of Mitch Joel’s corresponding blog post from twistimage.com/blog/:

Personal Branding R.I.P.

“The concept of Personal Branding has lost it’s way. It’s becoming less and less personal.

Personal Branding seemed to be something unique and powerful because of the advent of the Internet and the Social Media channels. Suddenly, any one individual could express themselves (in text, images, audio and video) instantly (and free) to the world. The smartest people could now be heard. The shy people could now connect to others who were like them. Those interested in Digital Marketing suddenly had all of this great content being published by their peers that they could add to, connect to and build a community around. We didn’t need the permission or acceptance of the mass media channels to get coverage or ink. Suddenly, we could build our own media channels and get the word out about who we are and what we have to say.

Those that were doing it well, were doing it authentically and with true passion.

While there’s nothing wrong with having a media channel that allows anyone and everyone to have a publishing platform, the concept of Personal Branding has evolved along with it. Instead of people really digging deep, opening up and living passionately, we’re moving ever-closer to the point where most individuals are expressing their Personal Brands in ways that make them look more like sterile and plastic TV news anchors than original thinkers. It’s not everyone (there are still many who are using these channels to really highlight and explore their unique personalities), but there is an ever-growing group of those who come off as fake, insincere, and simply out for their own personal gain. In short, they seem and feel like plastic and taste like vanilla.

The good news is that you can ignore them or not follow them.

The bad news is that if everyone treats Social Media like it’s mass media, and attempts to be everything to everybody, it’s going to come off as fake and inauthentic. Does this mean that we have to forgo social norms to be authentic? Nope (unless that’s your thing). Does this mean that we have to be provocative, irreverent and nasty? Nope (unless that’s your thing). What is missing (and what is direly needed) is for all us to take a step back and remember the real power here: to express ourselves in an authentic and passionate way (not in a drone-like corporate way).

[…]”

Please leave your comments at the original post.

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Reflections on the Sales 2.0 conference 2010

Posted in Uncategorized by salesenablement on March 10, 2010

Matthias Roebel (@mroebel) from User Experience Design company MING Labs and www.bizsphere.com/blog just posted the following reflections on the Sales 2.0 conference:

“My head is still spinning after two days at the Sales 2.0 Conference in San Francisco. It was great to see all the new ideas the various players in the Sales 2.0 market are constantly creating. The spirit of innovation is there, and it will help customers to address the Sales Effectiveness and Productivity challenges ahead of them.

Sales 2.0 conference

Gerhard Gschwandtner put it well in his opening remarks: The Internet is changing the world. It has already changed end customers’ purchasing behaviors significantly, but changes in the B2B world are and will be equally dramatic.

Also, the changes span the entire range from Lead Generation, where social media tools like LinkedIn or Facebook are playing bigger roles from day to day, to Sales Enablement, where sellers need to be enabled to have better informed and more relevant conversations with their clients despite the challenges of information overload. However, there’s more: Think about how Sales Compensation or Pipeline Management need to change in a more dynamic, flatter world. Or how (social) Marketing Automation methods could improve Lead Nurturing…

As exciting as all of these things are, as overwhelming they may appear to customers in the first place. However, waiting and observing is not an option. Companies have started to try out and adopt one or the other Sales 2.0 technology/methodology and they are seeing the benefits – as we could hear in the various panel discussions during the conference. Yes, the holistic picture of how the different pieces of the Sales 2.0 ecosystem are playing together still needs to be drawn – but you’ve got to start somewhere, if you don’t want to be left behind.

The next challenge, to quote Gerhard again, is moving from reactive to proactive in using the tools.”

Please leave your comments on the original post.

Miles Austin (@milesaustin) from fillthefunnel.com posted the following observations and learning points from the first day:

“[…]

  1. No one can claim that WebTools are just gimmicks any more. Companies large and small are deploying tools in record numbers and they are getting results.
  2. When Gartner Research VP Michael Dunne is talking about tangible, measurable increases in sales revenue across the board you know this is no longer a fringe topic.  Then when the feedback on Twitter says that his was the best presentation of the day, you know you better start paying attention.
  3. To  hear customers and WebTool vendors alike stating as a matter of fact that they are using and recommending some of the very tools (Jigsaw) that were considered “evil” by some pundits.
  4. It is clear that with the mainstream acceptance of Sales 2.0 concepts, tool mania might become a problem.  The selection of the appropriate WebTool for the specific need will be more important than ever. Expertise and understanding is critical.
  5. Collaboration will be a significant focus.
  6. Mobile will be the primary access to the Tools.
  7. Social Media/Networking should be integrated into your sales process.
  8. An effective lead generation strategy is to educate. Customer will return if you have informed with integrity and transparency.
  9. Sales teams have higher quotas & fewer resources -have to increase sales efficiency to hit goals (thanks @OneSourceInfo)
  10. Functional silos and company hierarchies are breaking down. We need to be prepared.
  11. Gerhard Gschwandtner opened the conference with the following:  ”Business is a dance around value”.  Is your company at the dance?

[…]”

Please leave your comments at the original post.

David Thompson‘s ‘Insights from the Sales 2.0 Conference’:

“[…] marketing really is all about Sales. The more of us who jump on this message, the better it is for customers. And that really was the vision of Sales 2.0 from the beginning. In fact, the Fall show will probably be called “Sales and Marketing 2.0″ As I said in my remarks at the first conference, “Sales 2.0″ is really “Buying 2.0.” On Amazon, there’s no difference between the marketing process and the sales process. It’s one seamless buying experience. And that’s what Sales 2.0 needs to aspire too. It’s truly gratifying to see our baby all grown up and embraced by so many new advocates. […]”

Please leave your comments at the original post.

Jeb Brooks posted ‘Is Sales 2.0 More Than Technology?’, on 11 Mar 2010:

“I’m just back from the Sales 2.0 Conference. I went with the hope that it would give me a clear idea of what “Sales 2.0” is. Unfortunately, it’s still too new. Conference organizer and Selling Power Magazine founder, Gerhard Gschwander, put it well when he said that, “Sales 2.0 is not concrete; it’s agile. We need to build as we go.”

No one seems to have developed a clear, all-encompassing definition yet. Probably the best one belongs to Anneke Seley who wrote the book, Sales 2.0 says that it’s “a more efficient and effective way of selling for both salespeople and buyers that’s enabled by technology.”

I hope that, in time, we’ll understand “Sales 2.0” as more than just technology. I’d like to think of it as a version of sales where customers and salespeople are more closely aligned with each other due, in part, to technology. It will be a version of sales where trust will develop in a different way as a result of technology. In many ways this has already happened. For example, LinkedIn and Facebook profiles allow customers and salespeople to get to know each other before their first meeting. That’s technology supporting human connections.

As of today, most of what’s been hung on the “Sales 2.0” banner is enterprise software designed to gather data from salespeople and (occasionally) provide data to them.

Surely “Sales 2.0” is a more fundamental shift than just more data collection? Sales 2.0 has got to be about more than technology. Technology should support the sales effort, not hinder it. It should make it easier for salespeople and customers to connect. And too much sales-oriented technology stands between customers and salespeople rather than unites them. I have every confidence that sales and marketing automation are critical, but only if they serve to increase and maximize the time salespeople spend with their customers.

In fact, according to a report by Gartner Research (presented at the conference), actual customer contact time for inside salespeople tops out at about 40%, while field reps are lucky to spend between 18 and 20% of their time with prospects. The number is even lower – 10% – for complex sales (like airplanes and nuclear coolers). In a “Sales 2.0” world, those numbers should rise.

My point is that technology fails when it’s too cumbersome, creates extra work, or distracts from customer interaction in any way. Reporting is important, but salespeople must be allowed to build their customer relationships. Like excessive paperwork in “Sales 1.0,” burdensome software just gives excuses to poor performers and frustrates top performers.

However, when technology compliments customer interaction better, it becomes indispensable.

I’m enthusiastic about the future of sales because the interaction between customers and salespeople will become richer. My only fear is that too much software will distract from, rather than support, the sales effort.

Thoughts?”

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Bryan Wilson (@bryanmwilson) then commented:

“I completely agree with this! Sales 2.0 isn’t about getting cooler software that takes the relationship out of selling. It is about enabling more connections and relationships through the technology. The fundamentals of sales remain the same, there are just new ways of developing, nurturing and maintaining relationships in the digital age. One example I have is that of CRM or sales tracking software. There are many programs out there that have a TON of fields to fill out, awesome reports and all sorts of other “management” type features. However, top sales people HATE taking 2 hours of their day to fill out little boxes just so management has a cool report to look at. Our firm in particular uses ACT! for managing contacts. In my opinion, asking a “Sales 2.0″ person to use a program like ACT! is like asking a house builder to use a hammer to build an entire house. Sure, you can do it, and it will work. But isn’t using a nail gun and other power tools MUCH more effective? Why not use programs like HighRise from 37Signals, or some of the newer, less bloated “Web 2.0″ programs like BantamLive? These programs incorporate only the features needed and nothing else. They also incorporate some of this Sales 2.0 stuff like lead generation & development through Twitter & other social networking services.

Sales isn’t changing. Relationships and solution selling will always be here. The WAY in which relationships are being built is what is changing.

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