For those of you who attended the first ever Sales 2.0 conference in San Francisco this past October, you're probably in a state of awe.
It's a testament to the new age of selling and the role technology will play in how we sell. Sales 2.0; the conversion of technology and sales and the symbiotic relationship between the two; how they can be integrated together and co-exist in harmony.
Sales leaders, business owners and sales managers need to prepare for the next evolution of selling and what it's going to take to make their sales team a leading force in their space. Yet, with all the technology that is going to change how salespeople sell and manage themselves, I was surprised to hear the comments made by some of the people who spoke at this event. Here are a few observations I heard:
1. Cold calling is dead.
2. Technology is going to replace the salesperson.
3. Companies are going to rely less and less on the high caliber, professional salesperson who can take a prospect from the beginning of the sales cycle to the end when closing the sale.
4. Automated, asynchronous training solutions are going to replace training and professional development delivered by a live person (e.g. face-to-face or through the Internet) .
Sure, technology will automate and streamline many of the functions and tasks salespeople and management are currently responsible for. More specifically, how they manage their sales pipeline and the stages of their selling cycle, how they qualify and mine for new prospects, how they network with other business professionals, how they maintain their contact database as well as how they communicate with their prospects and customers. And the trend for companies to transition from what was once a face-to-face sale to a virtual, off-site sale will continue to dominate more sales cultures.
Yet, one thing is for certain. People like to buy from people. As such, the longer your sales cycle and the higher the price tag on your product or service, the more solidified the need will be and will remain for talented sales champions to drive sales and growth.
I have already seen the negative impact that some of these great advancements are having on sales teams as it relates to how salespeople are interacting with their prospects, customers and even their managers. Many managers have reported spending far too much time reviewing a thread of email conversations between their salespeople and prospects when attempting to uncover where a communication breakdown occurred or when trying to identify how a great selling opportunity was lost.
Moreover, there's the ever-widening communication gap that some of these new technologies promote between the younger, MySpace generation and that of their boss, especially as more and more sales teams are built on a virtual platform where there's little, if any face-to-face weekly interaction with their manager. Rather than develop their core leadership and coaching competencies and skills, managers are relying far too heavily on these solutions to solve many of the managerial challenges they are up against when building and managing their sales team.
Salespeople are expecting their webinars, proposals, websites, online marketing campaigns and collateral materials to do the selling and prospecting for them. What's worse, there are those salespeople who attempt to close a prospect or overcome objections via email rather than simply picking up the phone to facilitate a direct, one-to-one conversation that would appease the person's concerns. Here's just one example of a perfectly good opportunity and a valid reason to reach out to a prospect over the phone that salespeople need to take full advantage of, yet fail to do so.
While more applications such as the ones I've mentioned are infused throughout each stage of the sale, the technology of maximizing human potential is far from tapped. And as more technology emerges to simplify the selling process, there will be an even greater demand for the elite salesperson who can manage and leverage technology as well as effectively communicate their message to their targeted audience.
Keith Rosen is the President of Profit Builders, LLC, (www.ProfitBuilders.com) a provider of leadership and sales coaching and corporate training. He is the author of Time Management for Sales Professionals. To speak with Keith or to receive his free newsletter, call 1-888- 262-2450,
email info@ProfitBuilders.com or visit www.ProfitBuilders.com