The term Sales 2.0 has come up in network meetings I have attended and in blogs that I read. What is Sales 2.0? Is there a Sales 1.0? If so, what is the difference? Is one better or more effective than the other?
We all have realized that traditional “interruption based” marketing is becoming less-and-less effective. Likewise, we are learning that “interruption based” selling is becoming less effective. Buyers are beginning to live online and they are the ones in control of your sales cycle.
A major growth challenge for many companies today is this profound transformation in customer behavior. Today’s buyers are enabled by the Internet, empowered by the enormous choice in every market, and possess the ability to compare real-time competitive prices. They have, in essence, taken control of the purchase process.
What is Sales 2.0?
Whether you are selling products or services, as a start-up or established business, your sales process is evolving like never before.
After considerable reading and research, I have come up with what I hope is a simple definition: Sales 2.0 is all about sales people using Web 2.0 tools, technology and social media to sell more effectively – to connect, engage, interact, share and collaborate. Think improved sales practices – behaviors, methods, and tools. And think changed sales philosophy.
Why Sales 2.0?
Today’s digital environment has given your customers a new way to buy from both the B2B and B2C perspectives. They’re armed with ammunition from Google, YouTube, and a multitude of other online resources. A shift has developed between the buyer and seller creating the movement from Sales 1.0 to Sales 2.0.
Sales 1.0 sales reps hold all the information. They know the ins and outs of your products and services and serve as the subject matter expert for your prospect. But all that information is held by the sales rep and presented in person, via phone or through other traditional means like direct mail – in other words Sales 1.0 tactics.
Today, your prospects do their research before hand, so they feel more in control. Sales move faster since customers are pre-qualifying your company before they contact you. Research has found that customers report being nearly 60 percent through the sales process before engaging a sales representative, irrespective of price point. 60 percent of the sales process just disappeared!
What are buyers doing if they’re not talking to your salespeople? They are:
- Surfing websites to identify and qualify vendors, instead of your sales group qualifying them
- Connecting with peers and colleagues to learn more about their needs, potential solutions and providers
- Reading, listening to and watching free digital content from your website and others
- Comparing competitive prices
The Evolution of the Internet: Web 1.0 to Web 2.0 and Beyond
To put Sales 2.0 in context, and why it is so important, consider the evolution of the Internet. In simple terms the Internet has evolved from a content broadcasting system (Web 1.0) to a web of collaboration, interaction and context. “Using Web 2.0 technologies and social networking, it becomes easier for individuals (both inside and outside the corporate world) to add comments, create blogs, articulate and widely publicize their opinions, and upload audio and video.”
Web 2.0 includes technologies such as:
- Social networking software – Facebook and Linked-In, etc.
- Wikis or user-created knowledge bases such as Wikipedia
- Software tools for web conferencing and team-based collaboration
- Blogs and global bloggers, who have become major news sources and destinations
- Video sharing using such sites as YouTube
Here is the major point. We must understand that the new technology is not the driver of change. Web 2.0 signals a cultural shift in the way all types of people and organizations use the Internet to interact with one another.
(If you want a more robust discussion of web evolution, check out Web 1.0 vs Web 2.0 vs Web 3.0 vs Web 4.0 vs Web 5.0 – A bird’s eye on the evolution and definition.)
The Evolution of the Sales: Sales 1.0 to Sales 2.0
I stated earlier that Sales 2.0 is all about sales people using Web 2.0 tools, technology and social media to sell more effectively – to connect, engage, interact, share and collaborate. Think improved sales practices – behaviors, methods, and tools. And think changed sales philosophy.
Some of the tools used today for Sales 2.0 that weren’t available in Sales 1.0 include:
- Video Conferencing
- Screen sharing tools
- Valuable online content such as blogs, case studies and white papers
- Mobile devices for instant online capabilities
- Social Media channels
- Segmented email campaigns
Many people in the workforce today have not really experienced business without these types of tools. Companies are recognizing the impact of these tools and technologies and beginning to embrace their inclusion in business strategy to engage customers and potential prospects in two specific ways:
(1) Improved marketing communication integration and content strategy
(2) Guiding the sales process versus leading it
First, company decision-makers will continue to take their buying process further into the sales process. Your relevant content (digital, social, hard copy, etc.,) will continue to intensify in value – content related to buying drivers, and the use of your product or service.
Second, savvy buyers waiting longer to contact you, forces a transition in your sales group – from being a “sales pusher” following a process, to an “insight provider” adding value to your buyers business.
(If you want a more robust discussion of the Sales 2.0 paradigm shift, check out Exploring the Paradigm Shift in Sales Performance, Technologies, & Learning, an excellent white paper by Xerox.)
What has NOT Changed
New technologies may offer our salespeople more effective and efficient options (online vs. offline) for “HOW” to do what we do, but does not change “WHAT” we do. We connect, engage, and interact with the intent to communicate and exchange value with our customers and prospects.
So how do I embrace Sales 2.0 you ask? Here are some starters:
- Add icons to your electronic signature to directly connect your prospects and customers to your company social channels where high value content lives
- Gather business intelligence online to build prospect lists
- Use social media channels to supplement sales and email efforts
- Follow and participate in conversations happening on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social channels relevant to your business
- Use your company blog to become a trusted resource to your customers. Share with them. Keep them informed and up to date on trends that effect and influence their companies
The Sales 2.0 tools available today are powerful. They can create growth opportunity and higher levels of productivity for your sales teams.
However, be warned! You must create the right methodology, not just start using these tools for the sake of using them. Develop a strategy around these tools to control brand messaging and ensure consistent communication with your valued customers.
Contact me to discuss how you can embrace and develop a Sales 2.0 strategy in your company.
© 2016 David Paul Carter. All rights reserved.
Also published on Medium.