There is a noticeable increase in chatter about Web Tools to enhance your sales effort. Social networks are humming about them. Sales 2.0 conferences and sales gatherings are building their agenda’s around them. Similar to the explosion of those that refer to themselves as social media “experts” over the last year or so, you are going to see a new crop of “experts” popping up on the landscape touting their experience and knowledge of these Web Tools for Salesmakers. Why is this occurring now and should you care?
If you are currently an active participant in Business to Business sales as I am, are you observing subtle changes in your clients and prospects behavior and activity? Budgets that have been unavailable, or at least frozen for some time, are starting to become available. Might be small projects or departmental purchases, but there is an increase in activity. Requests to re-price and update old quotes are coming in. Interest in new products and solutions is definitely there. I am noticing that there is a bit of energy and optimism beginning to bubble up within the purchasing ranks. Mid-term planning meetings are taking place. Are you sensing a slight rumble in the ground?
In addition, there are fewer salesmakers around than 12 to 18 months ago. Fewer of your peers out in the field. Cubes that were once occupied now sit empty. Fewer competitors as well. Fewer competitive salesmakers, even fewer companies providing the same or similar services to those that you offer. Our customers have also experienced similar changes. IT departments that are now half of what they once were. Procurement teams are now centralized in many cases, and have fewer people on staff to get things done.
I believe this combination of financial, employee and strategic meltdowns has altered the sales game forever. The old sales processes, approaches and communication methods will no longer work. No one has the time or interest in going back to the old ways. Sales are coming back but they will occur at a different pace and with different processes than what we knew in the past.
While all this was happening there has been explosive growth and creativity in the development of a new generation of sales tools. They are primarily web-based. These tools are capable of providing more customer information and insight than is humanly possible to digest. Your prospects and/or customers financial detail, employment trends, executive backgrounds, industry trends, future direction, specific employee contact information and more is available with a few keystrokes. Used appropriately, these new tools will benefit both the salesmaker and the customer.
The impact of all this is that the sales cycle is now dramatically compressed. You better do your homework before that first call is ever made. Consider this: how much time, effort and gamesmanship was needed to simply get the phone number of the Ms. Right? How about her email address? With tools like Jigsaw.com what was once a major hurdle is now three to four mouse clicks away.
The power of these new WebTools will become clear in the weeks ahead. The damage that these tools can create however has the potential to be even more powerful than the promise that they hold. Should be an interesting journey we are embarking on. If you are a salesmaker, I invite you come along for the ride. Join in, share your thoughts and experiences as we launch our new series of posts: 30 Web Tools in 30 Days on Tuesday, September 1st. Sign up for the series and you will receive the e-Book at the end of the series. You will also be entitled to receive special promotions and incentives from various WebTool developers that will be showcased. Sign up here or in the upper left hand corner of the blog to receive all the benefits of this landmark series for everyone that makes their living in Sales.
Like they say, different results require new approaches. This article is in that spirit and a valuable read.