I love my sports, I’m sure a lot of you do, and I keep myself up to date across a number of sports, and follow a couple of teams closely. I’m what you might call your typical sports fan. A great working definition of a sports fan is someone who, when their team are playing and they can’t attend or watch the event because of another commitment, becomes distracted and nervous during the game, wondering how the game will play out and what the result will be. They are made more anxious by the fact they can’t cheer their team on in person or from the comfort of their television or laptop.
You can make the same argument for Sales 2.0 and our use of B2B social networking resources. There are two types of sales 2.0 professionals. The first type is the genuine fan. They use the web and web 2.0 tools as an integral part of their job, constantly researching, monitoring and contributing to the progress of their key accounts and the opportunities they’re pursuing. In a recent blog post, Guy Kawasaki shared with his audience how he tweets, and it was no surprise that he has Twitter open and is in front of it during his entire working day. He must also, though he doesn’t go into this detail in his post, manage his time well so that he can still produce what he needs to during his day, while still communicating with and receiving communications from his community. When they’re not in front of their laptop, Type A’s are in motion, perhaps going to a meeting or conference, but still with smart phone in hand, keeping abreast of anything that might have a bearing on their sales success. They’re probably high achievers within their sales organization, and if they have chosen well, their own Sales 2.0 orientation is matched by their organization’s strategic approach to social networking tools as the principal way to get found. (If they’re not high achievers, I would guess they’re using the tools too much for personal or social reasons and damaging their selling productivity.)
This is the type that gets anxious, distracted and nervous when for some reason – on a plane, at a function, out of coverage, broken device etc – they can’t be online and stay current with their business. They wonder what vital snippets of information they could be missing to help them progress their opportunities, or deepen their relationships. Their finely tuned real-time information relay systems let them down and suddenly they’ve got no digital pulse, no heartbeat.
Then there is the second type. They pay lip service to the new technologies. They still work the traditional way, but do a little sales 2.0 here and there, when they’ve time, without truly understanding how the mechanism works, and wondering why they can’t see the benefit, or the return on their invested time. When they need to find something out, or get something done, web 2.0 tools are not their first recourse. They – or their company – perhaps view web 2.0 and sales 2.0 as a bolt on, something that isn’t really mainstream yet, something that doesn’t directly impact their top line. It’s just the latest shiny metal toy, a fad that will prove to be yet another time-suck for them. This is the type that built a web presence 10 or 15 years ago, and wondered why customers-with-orders didn’t come to them in obedient droves. Or perhaps they’re just part of the late majority, people who are not technophobes, but tend to be later than most to get an mp3 player, a flat screen HD-ready television, or a digital reader. What they have is serving them just fine at the moment.
This is the type that doesn’t miss a beat when they’re off the grid. When they’re away from work, they’re away from the digital stimuli that remind them of work. Time to disappear for a while, some hard-earned ‘me time’. They might forget to log into their social media resources for a few days, but, no harm, they can catch up on the last few messages and they’ve probably not missed anything important. As long as they stay focused on what has worked for them so far, they’ll be fine. It’s all about focus, right? Minimize the distractions and stay close to the traditional avenues that money flows through, that’ll work, always has.
So am I saying there that the most successful sales people are naturally technology-inquisitive and early adopters? That your adaptability to change governs how successfully you can sell? Possibly, and possibly not.
What do you think? Are you a genuine sales 2.0 fan, or are you just paying lip service to it, making token gestures from time to time? And can you be a successful luddite in a web 2.0-savvy organization, or a social media genius in a backward business? I’d love to read your views.