A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Sales 2.0

Are you interested in “maximizing sales revenue?”

Sales organizations worldwide have spent a tremendous amount of time defining, understanding, integrating and implementing Sales 2.0 technologies and processes ever since our good friend Nigel Edelshain coined the phrase in January 2007.

But while we were all focusing on sales processes, technologies and the rise in social media and automation, a funny thing happened. Buyers were quietly creating and defining the concept I will call Customer 2.0 and it has had a huge impact on our selling processes.

Using many of the information, education and communication technology vehicles available to them, they found that they could reshape the buying cycle and delay the entry of the sales person into the relationship. They have in fact taken ownership of the sales process.

Because the buyer can use information technology, the point of engagement for the sales organization has shifted further down the buying cycle. The following chart shows the area where the sales organizations usually start adding value.

Sales organizations have spent most of their time becoming “selected” as the favored supplier and did very little selling in the early stages of the “buyers cycle because they were rarely invited to participated. Customer 2.0 has aggravated that situation and moved the sales rep entry further down the cycle.

If buyers (55%) are now saying that the “Planning” and “Recognizing Needs” steps are actually the most challenging areas for them, we need to reorient our approach to selling.

In these two stages, the buyers are on information overload. The seller’s role therefore is not only to provide “business” related information, but also to interpret it for them and make it relevant. This means the seller has to have a high degree of knowledge. The competencies required for this process include:

                        Knowledge     

                                    of General Business Concepts

                                    of the Client’s Business

                                    of the Industry

                                    of the Competition

                        Questioning and Listening Skills

                        Strategic Thinking

                        Conviction, Confidence and Integrity

Today’s salesperson is a “Knowledge Broker” more than anything else.

Old Protocol

The salesperson was focused on a single objective which was to “secure and order”. Anytime spent doing other activity was viewed as time wasted. The goal only extended to getting the product or service sold, operational and paid for. Anything else was someone else’s responsibility.

New Protocol

The salesperson today is responsible for entering the buyer’s cycle earlier (with the help of an aligned marketing process). He/She needs to understand the buyer’s decision process and work to extend the relationship way beyond the range of the old cycle.

The value added salesperson must blend his/her process with that of the buyer and extend the value of the relationship to a higher level.

Alignment of the sales, marketing and customer intimacy agents and processes is the best way to accomplish this objective.

“if your relationship with your customer is based solely on product and price, you are to blame and it is up to you to raise the relationship to a higher level”  Tom Peters

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