Francis Fischbach attended the first Sales 2.0 conference in November of 2007 and blogged about it in “Inside Sales 2.0: A Report From the Front Lines.” I just realized that we missed the 2009 version that was held this week so I am recycling two comments that were added to Francis’ original post since I think they are still useful. And we will have to make it back next year to Sales 2.0, it looks like it’s becoming a very useful conference.
At the time Craig Klein commented:
Isn’t Sales 2.0 about building new pathways using technology that give the customer self serve access to information and letting the customer “pre-qualify” themselves by virtue of their actions before a sales rep spends time with them?
Jim Sterne of Target Marketing wrote a great book in 1996 called “Customer Service on the Internet” that’s now in it’s second edition that outlined how savvy firms were allowing customers to satisfy their service needs using the Internet. The implications for the sales process were clear then. The challenge that many startups face is that they are still on the “sales learning curve” and can’t effectively anticipate enough of their prospect’s questions to quality them without a conversation.
I am not sure we have a good definition for Sales 2.0, perhaps by the time we get to Sales 2.1 or 2.2 things will have settled down a bit. The Sales 2.0 that the blog post title refers to is just the name of the conference, and like “39 minute cleaners” just because something has a particular name doesn’t imply a warranty or guarantee of results. Not every self-titled next generation or paradigm shift actually obsoletes established practice: if and when “Sales 2.0? actually arrives it will be called “sales” for the same reason that very few people refer to cars as “horseless carriages.”
However, we are big fans of the cluetrain manifesto and the perspective it offers on the impact of Internet-enabled communication on customer development–sales, marketing and business development. I worry that the premise of your definition–”pre-qualify based on self-service access to information before a sales rep spends time”– sounds more like an attempt to avoid a conversation that could form the basis for a relationship, a relationship that might lead to a sale.
In our experience, it’s incumbent on startups to initiate conversation. Not the typical “sell, sell, sell” approach that established firms encourage in their sales teams to “maintain control of the conversation”–that’s an interrogation–but one where you are genuinely committed to understanding the prospect’s needs and are open to letting them teach you something new about your product.