Sales 2.0

By Alen Majer

Web 2.0 enables Sales 2.0 and many sales people can take customer communications into their own hands and to an entirely new level. Sales reps have more control over the tools that they use, and they can be always on, answering to customers questions in the matter of minutes and not hours or days.

Let’s take a look at what has recently happened to the salespeople in a company that has a fine record of few product and sales mistakes - Proctor & Gamble.  Proctor & Gamble manufactures a product called SK II and it was offered by its sales force to the world market. In one country there were complaints that the product when applied to the skin for the use of moistening the skin caused skin rashes.

How did the word get around? The internet. The Blogs with comments read by thousands of current and prospective customers. The company withdrew the product from the market, but not until consumer trust had been badly damaged. Like luck, the freedom of the World Wide Web can work in two opposite ways for a business and for sales.

Everyone is talking about the Web 2.0 as a second generation of web-based communities and services, such as social networking sites that facilitate collaboration and sharing between users. The phrase Web 2.0 may hint at an improved form of the World Wide Web. Advocates of the concept suggest those technologies such as blogs, social bookmarking, wikis, podcasts, RSS feeds (and other forms of many-to-many publishing), social software, and online Web services imply a significant change in web usage.

I firmly believe that is time to start talking about Sales 2.0.  Certainly there are many areas that sales people are affected with the new technology, pushing them to be more pro-active and having more control over the tools they are using.

To give a few examples: communications with the customers are affected with Sales 2.0 because many of your customers’ executives are having their own Blogs; emails are taking over the communication to a different level, many sales reps are always available due to the technology of Blackberry phones of the world, and especially internet makes it possible to do something that even decade ago was impossible – research companies before you contact them with the help of RSS feeds, online business directories, news alerts from search engines, etc.

And if technology has changed, markets are also changing by the same speed: one of the basic rules of capitalism is that in capitalism business collapses if it does not adapt to the situation on the market. Collapse of the businesses ironically benefits the system because it makes a space on the market for fresh ideas and new, better, and improved products.

Even a business collapse today can be a sales opportunity as pointed out above. There are over 3000 important cases in bankruptcy court in the U.S. at any one time these days. One of the chief examples is the airlines.

In over half of the cases the companies process through bankruptcy and reorganize successfully, becoming new customer for a variety of salespeople. It can be a huge untapped sales market, and by recognizing trigger events you can open a whole new market space for you.

Even the tragic case of Enron where fraud ruled the roost; they have turned around and with one of their energy company’s regained health again: new products, new services needed and new sales.

A lot of “motivational” preaching books have it backwards that urge salespeople to simply swim against the current. And it looks as if that’s what winners are doing. But winners have identified the future direction of the river current and swim vigorously in that direction.

With trigger events you will learn in which direction are your customers swimming, and nothing else is needed from you but to join them. We sales people are in the business of asking our clients to make a major change. If we are unwilling to change ourselves, how can we ask our prospects to?

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