Sales 2.0 Competencies, Changes and Myths

There has been much talk about Sales 2.0 yet most sales experts can’t agree on exactly what it is.  But before we can even discuss Sales 2.0, I must confess that most companies have yet to get on board with good old Sales 1.x!  Most companies are still selling without formalized sales processes, effective strategies and effective tactics.  Most companies still have their salespeople show up, present, demo, quote and wait for the business.

Prior to working with them, most of my clients have said that they had a sales process, had worked with their salespeople on questioning and listening skills and just needed some tweaking. Just today, two companies emailed me saying pretty much the same thing. One “only” needed a sales playbook and the other “only” needed some negotiation skills.  The passing of time and a sales force evaluation have historically shown these claims to be mostly untrue!  The clients thought they had provided this guidance, thought their salespeople were executing and thought they only needed tweaking.  The reality was that their salespeople were nearly as ineffective as the companies that hadn’t worked on these competencies at all.  Why? We can explore that in a future article.

So if Sales 1.x is grounded in sales process and consultative skills, what is  Sales 2.0?

While Sales 2.0 includes technology (sales force automation, CRM, Lead Generation and Tracking, Sales Enablement, etc.) at its core, most of this technology merely supports salespeople and provides coaching and accountability tools (via dashboards) for sales management.  In my opinion, the two biggest differentiators between Sales 1.x and Sales 2.0 are:

  1. The emphasis on being found by your prospects over you finding your prospects.  There is tremendous danger in this – much like being part of a networking group or attending networking events.  If you rely solely on networking for referrals that lead to getting you introduced to a potential new customer/client, you will starve unless you have a tremendous flow of quality referrals coming your way (By Referral-only Training). Similarly, with outbound and inbound marketing and advertising, if you don’t have enough prospects finding you, then you’d better hit the phones and make up the difference with some good old Sales 0.0.
  2. Prospects are more educated than they used to be at your first point of contact so you must provide more value when you meet or speak with them.  How do you add value?  By asking good, tough timely questions. Isn’t that part of Sales 1.x?  Yes!  It’s just that now, prospects expect you to ask questions, not just sales experts.

So you still have to hunt and you still have to possess great listening and questioning skills.  That brings us back to the other factor in Sales 2.0, the use of technology.  In a recent survey, not yet released, CRM was more likely to have been integrated with the sales force than sales enablement tools, prospect/customer data and marketing/lead tracking. The survey indicated that the impact these products are having is fairly significant too, proportionate to the level of integration.

What does it mean?  In the end it comes down to this;  These technologies are not going away and they are extremely helpful in how they support the sales effort.    They do not replace the sales effort, so it’s a matter of having proper expectations, commitment and follow through.

If your expectations are properly set (they will be a big help supporting the sales effort), your company is committed from the top down (we are committed to using these tools and anyone who isn’t in compliance can leave) and you follow through (if you don’t use them and keep them up to date you are gone), then you will have plenty of useful data to help with process, information, cycles, follow up, coaching, tracking, accountability, training, metrics, and forecasting.  On the other hand, if your expectations are lousy (Tom, this might give sales a boost), your commitment is weak (just give it a try Jeffrey – we can always pull the plug if they don’t use it) and you fail to follow through (don’t worry Zig, this doesn’t apply to you), you’ll get what you deserve.

With proper expectations, commitment and follow through, the actual applications you choose become a little less important, although it helps to use applications that take away most of the excuses.

In the end, it doesn’t matter whether you’re at Sales 1.x or Sales 2.0. What matters is that your salespeople are still out selling and not hiding behind technology hoping for things to happen.