Archive for February 1st, 2008

Sales 2.0. Guest column by Chris Jordan, friend and strong sales professional

Sales 2.0.

by Chris Jordan, friend and strong sales professional

Page 1

Solution selling has been the mantra to redefine business-to-business sales (B2B)
since the mid-80’s. It was a shift from the older objection handling and always-be-closing
tactics to a process of developing meaningful, win-win customer
relationships. Solution selling offered a methodology for sales people to move
beyond pushy tactics to consultative strategies and become more professional.
Solution selling is now showing its age as the web has changed the game. We have
access to more information than ever before, which we take for granted, and it is
amazing how quickly we have adopted the power of the internet in our everyday
lives, both in our recreational and business lives. In retrospect pre-2000 – the wide
distribution of high-speed internet was virtually unheard of. Could you imagine how
successful a business like You Tube could be without the broadband capabilities of
the Internet?
Internet users are today more savvy and are becoming less tolerant of poorly
designed web sites; they want to interact with a company online.
The sales and marketing tactics of the 80’s and 90’s are quickly becoming irrelevant
too because access to information allows customers to make well-educated buying
decisions and 75% of the time, in the B2B market, the buyer is better informed than
the sales person; buyers looking for a new company to conduct business with have
already make a significant journey along their buying cycle (not selling cycle) when
they contact a new preferred vendor.
As customers have more control over the buying process their expectations of how
they want to work with a vendor is changing with this phenomenon; this is the crux
of a Sales 2.0 approach. Solution selling is a methodology to help a sales person
understand their customers and present their product or service in a consultative
manner and Sales 2.0 goes a step further. Sales 2.0 is an organizational
methodology that tailors sales and marketing to mesh with the customers buying
behaviours. Rather than putting the sales person as the center of a sales process, it
suggests that the sales person is an integral part of a larger customer buying
If Sales 2.0 is about connecting and engaging to the customers buying behaviours,
then we must take a closer look of the sales process. To be successful you have to
be very clear about your target market and brand position, for example:

1. Who are your customers, and why would they buy from you?
2. How do your customers go to market and shop for solutions?
3. What triggers them to shop?
4. What are their options?
5. How do you help them change their “old” buying habits?

The front-line sales people cannot answer these questions, as it is a broader
organizational question that needs tackling at every customer touch point.
Just as companies are using web-tools to make more informed purchasing decisions,
Sales 2.0 companies are using these same tools to engage their market. At every
touch point web-tools can be used to increase your reach, stickiness, efficiency and
customer experience. When put together they make sales people far more efficient
and effective increasing sales velocity: they can sell more stuff.

Page 2

A buyer that has found your organization on Google, for example, is often a far
better prospect than a company you just cold called. When someone engages you
from your web site, they have already initiated a relationship with your firm, formed
an opinion and are receptive to entering into a possible sales dialogue. You face none
of the buyer resistance that comes with cold calling as the customer has already
been listening to their favorite radio station WIIFM (What’s In It For Me) and
understands this.
Web-tools are easiest to connect to awareness campaigns, but that is only the tip of
the iceberg. By understanding your customers’ buying behaviours, you can gain a
great deal of efficiencies throughout your sales process. For example, companies are
employing tools like WebEx, and other online conferencing tools, to enable the sales
force to conduct product demonstrations virtually. This benefits both the sales person
and the customer. The customer gains immediate gratification by seeing how this
product works and allows them to get educated on its benefits quickly. From a sales
perspective, it is huge too as there is the potential to dramatically reduce your sales
cycle, because you do not have the delays and costs incurred by travel to book a
face-to-face meeting.
There truly is no obstacle for a company to improve their sales process from
awareness campaigns to customer service – everything can be made more efficient
and effective with modern web-tools. But, and this is a big BUT, you have to have a
clear sales process that serves the customer buying experience and moves them
change their old habit and begin the move to a new place (your business). You
cannot automate a system that does not exist, and you do not want to create a
system unless you know it will work. So getting into Sales 2.0 is not for the faint of
heart as it takes a real commitment to understanding your customers, and to
developing sales processes and tools that meet the needs of your customers’ buying
Sales 2.0 is not just another buzzword as you are going to hear a lot more about it.
Every company is going to face the changing needs of their market and the early
adopters of Sales 2.0 will be handsomely rewarded for their investment. If you are
able to embrace your customers and develop an organization tuned to their needs,
you can build a powerful sales engine that outstrips the solution selling approach.
Sales 2.0 is the new buzzword for effectively increasing sales velocity in businessto-
business sales.