Gerhard Gschwandtner launched Selling Power magazine in 1981 with a vision to create the number one industry resource for sales professionals. And that, he has done. Widely recognized as a thought leader and industry trailblazer, he has trained more than 10,000 salespeople around the world and is the author of 17 sales management books.
Next week, Gerhard will be co-hosting the Sales and Marketing 2.0 conference in San Francisco – along with Umberto Milletti, co-founder of InsideView.
Gerhard was kind enough to take time in advance of the conference to share his views on how the Sales 2.0 movement has evolved and whether a Sales 3.0 movement is around the bend.
Q: Your conference used to be called Sales 2.0. This year, you’ve added “marketing” to the title. Why the change?
GG: When we speak to VP’s of Sales and Sales Operations Managers, we usually hear the same story: “Sales and marketing are separated by silos.” But we noticed that when we spoke to companies where sales and marketing are closely aligned, stories of sales effectiveness go up dramatically.
Q: You’ve been holding the conference for 2 ½ years now. What was the underlying theme of the first conference and how has the theme changed with each event?
GG: With the first conference we tried to come up with a clear definition of Sales 2.0. Instead of inviting vendors to come onstage to pitch their products, we invited their customers to talk about their problems and share how they’ve adopted Sales 2.0 solutions for lead management, proposal and quote management, sales enablement, marketing management, analytics and incentive compensation management.
All these customers enjoyed benefits like pipeline acceleration and team collaboration. They talked about a culture of measurement where people can be held accountable for their performance and where managers make decisions based on science, not on hunches.
In the past two-and-a-half years we’ve seen two major changes. First, social media has become part of the sales process. We’re hearing more social media success stories and seeing new job titles emerge, such as Chief Listening Officer, Customer Community Manager and Customer Success Manager. The second change we’ve seen is that companies are investing in more and more applications. For example, last year we had a number of companies that talked about using five or six different applications in addition to their CRM system. This year we’ve seen companies using 10 to 15 different applications. This is an astonishing trend.
Q: Buyers can now learn about products and solutions on the Web, bypassing salespeople in the early buying stages. How has this impacted the roles and responsibilities of marketing and sales organizations?
GG: Buyers are searching the Web for solutions and sellers. They’re also searching for opportunities. Some people believe that buyers now have the upper hand, but that’s not entirely true, because there’s way too much information available on the Web. Buyers want to speak to competent salespeople who are armed with relevant information that can help buyers get better results.
Buyers have little time for salespeople who are unprepared. They want access to information in real time. When salespeople don’t have access to relevant information in real time, the window of opportunity will get slammed shut.
That’s where 2.0 tools can make a huge difference. That’s why we made it our mission to promote sales and marketing alignment. The first step toward aligning the two departments is to come up with a common definition of what a lead is. Once both departments are in agreement, marketing can impact the entire revenue cycle, from creating leads to closing deals. When sales and marketing are aligned, both departments can focus on creating a profitable lead pipeline and an effective system for prioritizing leads.
Q: You and I recently participated in a Webinar together called “Sales 2 .0 … Where Are We Now?” Where do you think we are now? And is it too soon to start talking about Sales 3.0?
GG: Sales and Marketing 2.0 is not just about building a more effective and more successful business model. It’s not just about marrying best practice processes with the best technologies. In our preoccupation with creating greater operational efficiencies and greater revenues, we have to keep in mind who we are working for: our customers.
The next logical evolution is in aligning Sales, Marketing and Service so we can build a truly customer centric organization where we begin to align our capabilities to enhance the customer experience. We hear the same question all over the country: “Is there a better way for creating a sustainable competitive advantage?”
Every business leader feels the same three classic threats: the threat of commoditization, the threat of business model obsolescence, and the threat that comes from having inadequate execution capabilities. The solution is simple: embrace Sales/Marketing and Service 2.0, and align your organization around the customer with the goal of continuously improving the customer experience.
This means mapping the customer’s journey, this means measuring how we perform at every customer touch point, and this means collaborating and co-creating with our customers closer than every before. Sales 3.0 is all about integrating the customer’s voice in our business. In the Sales and Marketing 2.0 world, we tried to get inside the customer’s mind so we can get mind share and wallet share. In the 3.0 world, we need to get our customer’s ideas into our minds, and then we will be able to solve our revenue growth challenges by helping our customers solve theirs. The 3.0 world is all about co-innovation, co-creation, and co-destiny.
Q: What should attendees expect to gain from attending the upcoming Sales & Marketing 2.0 Conference, and who should go?
GG: The choice is simple. If you want to grow revenues, if you want to become more indispensable to your business, if you care enough to build a better sales and marketing organization, if you want to learn from the success experiences of companies who have implemented Sales and Marketing 2.0 solutions and enjoyed double-digit growth, then you want to come. The conference attracts more than 500 sales and marketing leaders who are curious and fearless when it comes to leading their companies to the next level of success.
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I’ll be covering the conference next week; meeting with vendors and attending sessions. I will be tweeting through-out – as will many others. You can keep up with the event with the twitter hashtag #sm20 or #sales20. Also, look for our November 11th newsletter issue when we’ll have an event wrap-up. You’ll learn about the cool tools and key take-aways. To subscribe: Newsletter