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How does Sales 2.0 help your customers?

Note: This blog post is from one of our featured guest bloggers, Anneke Seley.  The post can also be found on Anneke’s blog (The Sales 2.0 Advocate) here.  It has been slightly modified from its original form.

Sales 2.0 has struck a chord with today’s sales and marketing professionals.  More and more companies are looking for ways to improve the way they market and sell to today’s customers. But if Sales 2.0 is “a more effective and efficient way of selling for both the buyer and the seller, enabled through technology” (my simplified definition), what is the impact of Sales 2.0 on our customers’ businesses?  How are their experiences with us improving, and how is that translating to improved results?

That’s why I kick off many of my highly interactive presentations with a description of “Customer 2.0,” a new kind of buyer — one who, according to Sirius Decisions, spends 70% of the buying process online before ever speaking to a sales person.

See video of Anneke speaking at Sales & Marketing 2.0 Conference, November 2010 (thanks to Barbra Gago!).

I told the story of my LinkedIn connection to Justin Davison, an IT manager outside Pittsburgh, whom I’ve never met, but with whom I’ve had numerous thought-provoking online conversations. Justin, emblematic of many of today’s buyers, felt so strongly about letting us sales people know we must change our ways in order to succeed that he posted an “Open Letter to Vendors” called “Moving Beyond Cold Calling” on SpiceWorks, his community of choice.  In Justin’s words:

“My time is limited, but my workload is not.”

“Unprepared sales people impair my focus and productivity.”

“In the world of social media, I am not secretive about the projects I am working on.”

2.0 customers such as Justin make it easier for us to be effective and useful sales people who don’t waste buyers’ time trying to sell them something that’s not relevant. We can read their personal and company blogs and Twitter streams to find out what they are thinking about and what’s going on in their business and industry. We can check out their connections, work histories and slide presentations on LinkedIn. We can discover their friends and and hobbies on Facebook. And we can view their personal and company videos on YouTube.

But even if your customers haven’t chosen universally to share details of their personal and work lives on social media, there are still ways to make selling and buying more effective for our customers. With business intelligence products (such as InsideView), we can capture deep, consolidated company and industry information and, thereby, identify prospects most likely to benefit from our offerings. With marketing automation products (such as Marketo or Eloqua), we can detect which Web pages our clients and prospects linger on, as well as the content they download. This information gives us hints about what work challenges they may be facing. Armed with this information, we can tailor our conversations accordingly and help our customers solve the problems they face — rather than pitching them on a generic solution.

Sales 2.0 helps customers be more efficient, too. By providing robust and valuable information online, and sales and product expertise by phone, we respect the buyer’s time. With scheduling-automation products such as TimeTrade, we can significantly curtail the process for finding mutually available time on everyone’s calendars — which can be time-consuming and exasperating for our customers, as well as our sales people.

Justin Davison lists the top-priority projects he is working on in his online profile. Gerhard Gschwandtner, the producer of the Sales 2.0 conferences and creator of the Selling Power media empire, predicts the day will come when our prospects enter their own opportunities into our CRM (Customer Relationship Management) applications — the ultimate acceleration and alignment of the buying and selling process. 

How is your Sales 2.0 approach helping your customers — and making them more effective and efficient?

Want to hear more from Anneke Seley?

We have an on-demand Webinar, featuring Anneke, available via TechTarget
“Selling in a Social World: What the Management Team Needs to Know to Succeed with Today’s Customers”

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