I decided to attend The Sales 2.0 Conference in San Francisco this week.

It kicked off this morning with a presentation by Gerhard Gschwantner, CEO of Selling Power. He set the stage by pointing to Sales 2.0 as a question vs. the answer – questioning the value of the information overload between various constitutents; questioning the processes, the people, and the technologies aimed at enhancing / enabling / empowering alignment, collaboration, and performance results from sales, marketing and business development. Gerhard also talked about key trends facing sellers today:

  • Movement to a “conversation economy”
  • Co-creation of the sale with the customer
  • Increased science and measurement in the sales field
  • Customers will be creating the company

Some statistics shared include this:

  • Companies are losing 10% of their sales due to lack of insight into their sales activity and their target market. ~ Gartner Group
  • Sales cycles are 20 – 30 % longer. ~CSO Insights

David Thompson, CEO of Genius:

Sales 2.0 Defined: Sales 2.0 combines customer-focused processes with Web 2.0 productivity technologies to enhance the art and science of selling while creating customer value. It’s about driving more revenue, more quickly, through the pipeline. According to Thompson, it’s all about specific attributes between Marketing & Sales:

  • Being in alignment with the customer throughout the buying and lead life cycle
  • Working collaboratively to approach buyers when they’re ready, extracting timely and relevant insights and sharing customer intelligence
  • Accelerating and optimizing every phase of the sales funnel by connecting with the right prospects at the right time with the right message
  • Measuring and improving the lead-to-opportunity conversion ratio and sales performance execution

Scott Santucci, Senior Analyst, Forrester Research:

Santucci covered the entire lead generation & sales process – what’s broken & what needs to be done. His Sales 2.0 poster was a hit as it encapsulates the complex relationships between multiple constituents. Key points include:

  • The salesperson is your company to prospective relationships. Most companies are asking their sellers to learn too much! What’s broken is the conversation between the buyer and seller.
  • Both buyers and sellers are suffering from over-complexity. Customers are suffering from too much info, vendor fatigue, more stakeholders involved & longer decisions. Sellers also have complex portfolios of offerings, random acts of enablement and constant changes in their company.
  • Need to flip the focus of Marketing/Sales: 1. Model it around customer problems/decision process; 2. Map it around the problem portfolio. Then, 3. Match the sales tools to support customer conversations.

Jim Dickie, CSO Insights:

  • Lead generation #1 sales effectiveness initiative this year. Recent study: qualified leads that turn into discussion now at 39%; down from 55% .
  • Need to recognize Buying 2.0. Customer now get all sorts of information about your products, services, capabilities – way before they talk to a seller.
  • Recommended customer engagement objectives for 2009: 1) Optimize prospect intelligence; 2) Develop enhanced messaging; 3) Create enhanced sales/prospect engagement tools; 4) Nurture sales leads and 5) Integrate lead management/CR analytics.
  • Companies must make existing lead follow-up more effective. They don’t have big enough marketing budgets to keep generating more leads.

Pelin Wood Thorogood of Aegean Group:

  • Smart, savvy companies are adopting a culture of measurement
  • How Marketing can significantly increase the number of qualified leads with the same marketing budget
  • Critical to success is implementing a culture of measurement; recommends tracking key statistics in the Marketing Dashboard: 1. how campaigns were performing, 2. cost per impression, 3. cost per click, 4. cost per conversion and 5. lead scoring.
  • The biggest challenge is related to accountability. People are afraid; want to hide what they’re doing. But it brings great value because it adds visibility & predictability.

Sales also is a lead generator. Statistics to measure include these:

  • Pipeline velocity (size & shape)
  • Stealth pipeline
  • Days to win vs. days to use
  • Pipeline at risk
  • Future pipeline
  • Pipeline bloat
  • etc.

Alex Scalisi, Director of Business Development at Vertical Response:

  • Presentation on how his company was using LucidEra’s to identify risks and opportunities in their pipeline

Barry Trailer from CSO Insights:

  • A recession drives the need for the analytics
  • Gerhard Gschwantner from Selling Power quoted Warren Buffet, “When the tide goes out, you can see who has been swimming naked!”

David Holmes, VP of Sales Ops from Informatica:

  • Implemented a compensation management system. Results achieved include:
  • Radical reduction in reconciliation drama
  • Less stress at end of quarter
  • Greater trust
  • Increased management productivity
  • Additionally it allowed them to expand the sales force by 25%, with a 50% reduction in admin support.
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