I first heard the term Sales 2.0 five or six years ago. At the time, it seemed to be simply a branding term to cover a set of emerging technologies for sales reps, but I’ve come to see Sales 2.0 as a transformation of information and sales process workflows that warrant the name 2.0. Furthermore, Sales 2.0 is broader than the traditional web company research tools such as OneSource’s Global Business Browser. Traditional tools were “walled gardens” that failed to leverage much of the content on the open web. While these tools provided great value to sales reps, traditional company databases were not specifically designed for the sales function. Furthermore, these tools lacked key content sets such as emails, direct dials, SWOTs, and plain English industry overviews.
Traditional business research tools offered fixed content that was updated irregularly. Except for company news, company and executive profiles were static and were only updated on a weekly to quarterly basis. Around the time Sales 2.0 was coined, OneSource added an editorial “overrides” capability to improve their data currency. Instead of waiting for vendors to update profiles, a painfully slow process that often took sixty days, OneSource editors proactively (via news monitoring) and reactively (via customer feedback) began to update company and executive profiles along with family trees. These updates helped improve the relevancy and accuracy of the profiles and provided a mechanism for users to report issues and see that they were quickly addressed.
Furthermore, sales intelligence products circa 2008 were heavily focused on who to call, but provided few tools for ranking firms beyond company size or determining which prospects would be most receptive to your call. They were useful for list building and qualification, but not focusing on the best prospect to call today.
Conversely, Sales 2.0 services such as OneSource iSell look to answer the questions,
Who to Call, When to Call, and What to Say™
and provide tools and information sets which respond to these questions.
As content and context expanded, so did platform availability. Sales intelligence products have evolved beyond the traditional web browser and email alerts to support tablets, on demand PDF profiles, and CRMs. Tablet support provides mobile access to company and executive research on the road so sales reps can quickly review client profiles or check for company news while waiting at reception.
PDF profiles permit sales reps to review client and prospect information while flying. Reps can also share PDF profiles with execs and support staff prior to a call, making sure that colleagues are also prepared for meetings.
By integrating sales intelligence into the CRM, sales reps can quickly qualify leads, update profiles, or manage their company lists without ever leaving Salesforce.com or MS Dynamics. Furthermore, integrated list building and batch updates support marketing campaigns and CRM data hygiene. Thus, marketing teams can now leverage these tools as well.
Sales 2.0 services look to provide higher quality, dynamic sales intelligence across a broader array of platforms while leveraging a wider set of content that goes beyond the walled garden of company profiles. Though much of the product content delivered through Sales 2.0 services remains proprietary, there is a broader use of open web content such as blogs, web mined biographies, and social media. Thus, sales reps are more informed prior to contacting customers and prospects.
While sales intelligence products have earned the designation “Sales 2.0 Tools”, they continue to enhance their value proposition to sales and marketing. My next post will discuss the future of these tools.
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