In my article on the major disruptions in large account selling in the last decade, I identified disruptions of the selling systems and disruptions of the seller’s practices. Perhaps the major disruption to the system, which of course also disrupted the seller, was the phenomenon first labeled “sales 2.0.”
I’m introducing a pattern here that I’ll follow in subsequent articles in the series: (1) a definition, (2) impact on my work, The Whale Hunters Process™, (3) impact on large account sales, broadly speaking, and (4) significance to the large account sales profession and body of knowledge.
Sales 2.0 is the use of innovative sales practices, focused on creating value for both buyer and seller and enabled by Web 2.0 and next-generation technology. Sales 2.0 practices combine the science of process-driven operations with the art of collaborative relationships, using the most profitable and most expedient sales resources required to meet customers’ needs. This approach produces superior, predictable, repeatable business results, including increased revenue, decreased sales costs, and sustained competitive advantage.
Gerhard Gshwandtner also took the comprehensive view and ran with it for a decade until he introduced Sales 3.0, which I’ll discuss in a later post:
Sales 2.0 is the use of better sales practices enabled by technology to improve speed, collaboration, accountability, and customer engagement.
Much of the “Sales 2.0” discussion devolved into “social selling,” in itself a powerful disruption but only capturing a piece of the whole. Sales 2.0 also devolved into “sales technology,” again missing the point when taken out of context.
Impact on The Whale Hunters Process™. So how does Whale Hunting hold up under Sales 2.0 scrutiny? From my perspective, we were totally aligned and ready. It’s a process model addressing the entire business development system, putting the customer at the center and relying on collaboration internally and externally. Performance metrics and accountability are very important. We were, and are, technology agnostic. But our system always required technology resources to gather information and knowledge, and the book is full of process illustrations that have the look and feel of technology-enablement about them. This one, for example:
But no, The Whale Hunters are not technology leaders. I’d say we were Sales 2.0 locked and loaded from the get-go, which was a big reason that the system was well-received and has been successful. Nevertheless, whale hunting requires the use of well-chosen technology tools to fulfill its promise. I’m interested your comments on this claim!
Impact on Large Account Sales. Sales 2.0 has profoundly influenced large account sales, but it has not yet fully disrupted the old ways of doing things. The Sales 2.0 vision, as defined by founders and early adopters, was a whole system-change, a sea change in how companies operate their sales function. Unfortunately, there are still far too many examples of the lack of innovation. Too many examples of social selling on its own without the back-up understanding and infrastructure; too few examples of what I consider to be true customer-centric sales and customer-service operations.
A decade is not long enough, it seems, for this kind of change to permeate all the places where “sales” lives!
Significance. The significance of Sales 2.0 has been immense, yet not fully achieved, and in the process of being disrupted again by much more advanced technology. As a profession, sales has come to embrace the “social selling” aspects of Sales 2.0. We have captured many of the tools of Sales 2.0 both for sales systems and for individual sellers. We have some amazing examples of people and books and companies that have done amazing things with technology and business models and especially the social aspects of selling.
But at least two things still elude us: (1) the real power of customer-centricity, or maybe the actuality of what customer-centricity really looks like especially in B2B sales; and (2) the real power of turning access to information into real customer knowledge, or maybe actually taking the time to know what we ought to know about our customers, their people, and their strategic business issues. What’s your take?
Where are we on Sales 2.0 in large account sales?
Has it passed us by?
Is it all we hoped it would be?