Reflections on the Sales 2.0 conference 2010
Matthias Roebel from User Experience Design company MING Labs 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.
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.”
Miles Austin (@milesaustin) from fillthefunnel.com posted the following observations and learning points from the first day:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Collaboration will be a significant focus.
- Mobile will be the primary access to the Tools.
- Social Media/Networking should be integrated into your sales process.
- An effective lead generation strategy is to educate. Customer will return if you have informed with integrity and transparency.
- Sales teams have higher quotas & fewer resources -have to increase sales efficiency to hit goals (thanks @OneSourceInfo)
- Functional silos and company hierarchies are breaking down. We need to be prepared.
- Gerhard Gschwandtner opened the conference with the following: ”Business is a dance around value”. Is your company at the dance?
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“[…] 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. […]”
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“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.
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“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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