Sales 2.0: Accelerating Deals In A Slow Economy

This is my first time attending the Sales 2.0 Conference.  As an advocate for marketing professionals, I feel like a bit of a spy since this conference all about how to enhance the art and science of sales by combining sales process with Web 2.0 productivity tools. Some of this makes me nervous because it is not so much about enabling sales (which is good) as it is about making sales self-sufficient in demand generation.

Gerhard Gschwandter is the founder and CEO of Personal Selling Power and he wasn’t kind to vendors and analysts in his opening remarks here.  And with good reason: in this economy doing what sales and marketing have relied on in the past isn’t working. Buying the best technology doesn’t insure more closed deals, greater customer retention, or higher profitability. Analyst advice is”two steps behind” where problem seekers and solution providers are trying to go because Web 2.0 changes things so quickly.

Rather than drown in an ocean of information, sales needs to learn to swim efficiently  in this new socially connected, information saturated milleu.  This means learning how to get closer to customers, understand our real place in the market, and orchestrate technology and process to make customer interactions more engaging.  Gerhard offers 6 steps to help sales and marketing deal with this situation, which I interpret here and include my thoughts in italics:

1) Ditch the pitch. It’s not about you, but about the customer. Work on having a conversation and building a relationship, not just putting the right message out there. (I agree: Web 2.0 and social media make it easier for prospects to learn about you long before the first sales call.  Sales presentations need to be about “how we help you” not “who we are.” And it’s marketing’s job to give sales the tools to do this well.)

2) Learn to be consultative or become extinct. Getting closer to customers is about listening to their problems and helping to find solutions, not just putting out new features and functionality. (There’s a lot of emphasis on consultative, but only 10% of vendors are seen as strategic.  This is hard to do, but feels like the new holy grail in sales.  Big step for those who are order-takers.)

3) Co-creation is key. Spec and price sheets are old school. Customers don’t want to be sold to, they want help developing new business capability. (Precisely – so customer success stories, references, and how-to guides are essential in proving that we know how to deliver new business capacity, not just technology. The tech industry is evolving from tech to service delivery, for sure.)

4) Redefine selling. Based on your market, products, services and target customers, design the sales process that supports your business goals — don’t just rely on what you’ve done in the past or what sales process consultants tell you to do. (Hmm, I’m still seeing a lack of well defined sales process.  Unless the process is completely broken, getting to consistency and repeatability is probably more important than wholesale redesign at this point.)

5) Use more science.  Manufacturing quality management tolerates fewer than one mistake in 1000, 10k, or 100K. Sales and marketing tolerate one mistake in 5 or 10.  We need to change that. (Right, and marketing needs to lead the way.  Both sales and marketing need to be measured on the same lead-to-opportunity conversion metrics.  Sales can’t take all the credit and neither should marketing. Dashboards, analytics, and tracking keep everyone honest and on the same page.)

6) Customers will create companies.  Web 2.0, social media, and the Internet put buyers in the drivers seat.  (Yes, marketing’s charter is now to listen to customers express their needs, model these demands into known patterns of problems, match their products/services to these models, and map out the communication needed to move buyers from one stage to the next in the buying process — eventually turning them over to sales to take the relationship from online to physical.)

Scott Santucci followed Gerhard and introduced Forrester’s Model-Map-Match methodology that can help shift to a customer-first focus. The upshot of Scott’s presentation? Content is king in the selling process. We worry about process, people, and technology but tend to overlook content, which fuels the sales conversation. Marketing needs to help sales put the right information (not message or positioning) in front of customers at the right time — as defined by their needs, not ours — to create two-way, co-designed solutions that enable faster adoption and shorter time to value.  Check out the MMM process for yourself.

6 Responses to “Sales 2.0: Accelerating Deals In A Slow Economy”

  1. PeopleMap: A Real Tool for Sales Enablement? « B2B Marketing POSTs by Laura Ramos Says:

    […] October 5, 2009 — Laura Ramos It’s no secret: I am not a fan of the emerging class of “Sales 2.0″ tools that let reps follow online visitors or peer into their browsing habits. In a prior post, I […]

  2. LEADSExplorer Says:

    After every recession there is a drastic change in marketing and sales methods.
    The problem is one cannot predict what the change will be.
    What will be the winning strategy or approach whenever the recession has passed by. (you cannot point at the moment the recession turns around when you are living it – it’s only possible afterwards)
    Changes will come – habits will change – today’s winning companies will become laggerds tomorrow.

  3. Engago Team Says:

    Always wondered how you can have “Demand Generation” in B2B?
    A company has a demand or not.
    How can you generate a demand if there is no problem to solve?
    In B2C this is different as many other social and phychological factors come into play.

  4. Rebekah Donaldson Says:

    If a Sales Director said to me, “I want to be more self-sufficient in demand generation” I would say, “hallelujah! So what do you think it takes to build trust and accelerate sales?”

    I agree with most of his points — and your brief comments on each are great. My only beef is with #2.

    I agree that it’s marketing suicide to pound an audience with “we-we” messaging.

    And, after 15 years in b2b technology marketing, I’ve come to think that while alot of business decision makers and most consumers are what I call Solution-Talk Lovers; those who influence them — often, technical decision makers — are more of the Solution-Talk Haters ilk.

    For some buyers, your getting features right is intrisincally valuable, not just pragmatic… not just a means to an end. The features themselves are, well, art.

    There are Solution-Talk Haters who really rattled me when I was younger. Like the mid-level IT guys and the reporters who write for them. They are Solution-Talk Haters and proud of it! They’d rather chew their own leg off than listen to a bunch of girly marketing fluff about how I totally understand their needs and problems and have a turnkey solution. They want to hear facts about features and functionality, and they’ll draw their own conclusions, thank you very much.

    How can we reconcile the existence of Solution-Talk Haters with the marketing worldview that says ‘features talk bad, solution talk good’?

  5. Keith Eldred Says:

    I might want to keep up with your blog. Will you enable RSS? (or am I missing the link?)

  6. Mike Pilcher Says:

    The reason I coined prosultative is I think Sales 2.0 misses the point. By calling it sales we are by definition ignoring the fact that marketing and sales must be fully integrated together. I tried smarketing, and salesketing and all other combinations (they were all offensive to the eye) so I settled on prosultative as it describes the actions we are doing. Sales 2.0 is not about Sales it is about marketing assuming more of the early part of the sales process leaving sales to focus on closing and revenue optimization. I think Sales 2.0 should be Sales 0.5 as it only talks about half the picture. Unless we can fully integrate marketing with the sales process so data flows seamlessly between the two organizations, we are not leveraging the underlying technology.

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