I was speaking with a Sales leader last week when he asked me, “How do you define Sales 2.0?” At first I thought this was an easy question but as I formulated an answer (I try to do that before I speak) I was surprised by the complexity of thoughts that came to mind. I was disappointed that my response was not crisp and articulate. Hmmm, I said to myself, this needs more thought and what a perfect subject for a future article. What is the definition of Sales 2.0? Has Sales 2.0 evolved since Nigel Edelshain coined the term in 2006 or since Anneke Seley and Brent Holloway wrote the book “Sales 2.0” in 2008? Has it been corrupted or enhanced by bloggers and thought leaders speaking at the many Sales 2.0 Conferences organized by Gerhard Gschwandtner over the years? Is Sales 2.0 defined by whatever the many technology and consulting vendors are selling or is it more?
According to Anneke Seley, “Sales 2.0 is a concept that is currently being defined by technology vendors, sales and marketing professionals, and consultants alike. And, like Web 2.0, it can mean different things to different people. In essence, Sales 2.0 is a better way of selling for today’s buyers and sellers. It marries innovative Web technologies, processes and services with people and solid sales processes to meet buyers when and where they want to do business; to accelerate revenue growth, decrease sales costs and sustain a competitive advantage.”
That definition seems to cover a wide range of possibilities with an ambitious outcome; perhaps a bit idealistic but an aspirational goal nonetheless. If I had to select one of Anneke’s inputs required to achieve sustained growth it would be “solid sales processes” but, that is also true of Sales 1.0 selling. What makes Sales 2.0 different? The use of Web 2.0 technologies has enabled Sales leaders to continuously improve the methodologies and messages thus, the effectiveness of Sales and the consequential engagement of, and impact on buyers. In Marty Levy’s “era of the the informed buyer” the interaction of Sales with buyers can be significantly reduced. Sales processes must evolve to reflect the new way companies buy. It’s as though sellers get only one shot at collaborating with buyers to solve their business problems. There is less room for mistakes. Relevance is rewarded. Think: Challenger Sales Methodology.
What’s also different today is that technology enables sales management to quickly and accurately measure and adapt those processes to optimize Sales effectiveness. It’s not a coincidence that this movement is led by Inside Sales organizations where the deployment and adoption of the technology required to take those measurements is more easily controlled.
Sales 2.0 has matured beyond the concept stage and is now made easier by dozens, if not hundreds, of technology vendors. But don’t be fooled by this ubiquity. Adoption of the latest technology does not “get” you from Sales 1.0 to Sales 2.0. The evolution of your sales organization has to be preceded by a thorough analysis of the processes the technology is intended to automate. But that’s a topic for another article…
I considered defining Sales 2.0 as the transformation of sales from art to science (ah, so crisp, impactful and nearly poetic an answer!) but that concept tends to discount the value brought to the table by your skilled sales resources. The scripted or loosely outlined sales conversation can always take an unplanned turn even during what has become a shorter interaction. The success of your selling effort can pivot on your recource’s skills to gently turn the conversation back on track. That’s not science.
So here’s what I’ll answer the next time someone asks, “How do you define Sales 2.0?” I believe sales 2.0 is the evolution of selling driven by wide-ranging, timely and empirical data.
I’m sure not everyone will agree. Please add your thoughts. What’s your definition of Sales 2.0?