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I've observed that there is a significant gap between sellers who are technology "have's" and those who are technology "have-not's." In a general sense, that gap is defined by generation. In other words, younger people are generally more comfortable with technology and tend to use it to help them in their jobs. People who are older, although they may use email and Google as well, generally tend not to leverage technology to its fullest. By the way, those who are in the position of hiring sales people must include "technologically savvy" as a required skill/competency-the same goes for hiring sales managers as well.
But there is a much bigger challenge to address.
All the technology in the world isn't going to help people who don't have the requisite skills and, more importantly, the inherent traits, to be consistently effective sellers. ESR has found that 25-33% (depending on the industry) of B2B sales people aren't qualified for the jobs they hold and neither training nor coaching will improve their performance. This is a big, big problem. It is one of the root causes of the troubling statistics that CSO Insights and Sales Benchmark Index put forward in their research with respect to quota attainment and attrition rates.
Let me elaborate on the subject of personal traits. Depending on their specific job, we know that varying proportions of these among other traits are required for a sales person to be successful: courage, tenacity, intelligence, problem solving, integrity (inwardly- and outwardly-directed), self-motivation/drive, optimism, and competitiveness.
Do you see where I'm headed with this?
Not only does a seller have to be technologically comfortable (if not savvy) to leverage these exciting new tools and capabilities-they must have the right DNA (traits) to be a consistently effective seller, as well. Sales 2.0 is worthless to someone without those traits.
Here's the warning
Let us not get so enamored with the promise of an anywhere-access, collaborative, content-rich, best-practices, wiki-enabled, personalized iWorld that we elevate the vision of S2.0 to the lofty position we did with CRM-that of a universal elixir. CRM didn't deliver on the promise mainly because no one thought about what's in it for the sales person.
Sales 2.0 does hold great promise for those companies, such as Intel, that understand the importance of the 3P model-people, process and product-and have the right infrastructure in place to support a new generation of technology-enabled selling.
But for those companies that don't, so far as improvements in sales effectiveness is concerned, Sales 2.0 has all the business value of a kid's video game.
Dave Stein is the founder and CEO of ES Research, an organization that provides on-line, membership-based analyses of, and recommendations about, the sales training and sales performance and consulting marketplace and the companies that serve it.
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