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There are many predictions being made about whats going to happen in 2011. Social Media Today has posted the B2B Marketing Predictions of 2011, Social Media B2B has even given their predictions on B2B Social Media in 2011. There is even a prediction on the End of B2B Sales & Marketing as We Know It. With all of these predictions focused on the marketing side of B2B we wanted to go over some predictions about the changes to be found in 2011 in a B2B sales environment.

Recently Greg Brush, InsideView’s Vice President of  Sales spoke on a webinar with the TAS Group. You should listen to the entire webinar for some great insights of how sales cycles have changed over the past couple of years and how to adjust for them. [tweetmeme source= “insideview” only_single=false]

One of the trends we see growing quickly is the desire for using social media during the sales process. 68% of the companies that attended this webinar said that their social media approach for sales needed a lot of work. There is a fundamental shift taking place in the sales world in the context of customer 2.0.

This is very compelling since we already know that customers are not going to their vendors for information as much as in years past. Social networks like LinkedIn, Twitter and others have given the power to the customer to have conversations with peers and other customers about what products work and which ones fall short.

Social media will be a tool used by more sales teams in 2011

It’s more important than ever to have a sales team using technology to identify new opportunities and get involved in conversations that can turn questions into customers. LinkedIn is a tool most sales people are already using in some capacity but their profiles are rusty and they are not engaging people who are asking for advice. Sales teams that make an effort to use LinkedIn as a tool to find and help new prospects will see a much greater return than 100 phone calls becuase all of these conversations are visible to hundreds of thousands of people that may need the same advice.

Social media training will grow in 2011

After years of social media training being thrown around marketing departments with new experts being created daily it seems, very little has been done to bring this to sales teams. There are some great thought leaders out there that have been talking about Social Selling for a while and its about to be their time to shine. Sales managers are looking at their training budgets and prioritizing for more education on using social media. We will see more sales people engaging on LinkedIn, creating Twitter profiles and producing web videos in some cases. This is evident internally as well as with conversations with our customers that have approached us.

Sales Intelligence will be a focus of more sales teams

Data is becoming a commodity. Between Jigsaw, email lists and other providers, contact data is something that most companies now have relatively easy access to. A few years ago this was more than enough to throw a few sales people at and start having conversations. Times have changed and sales people are not having the same success with cold calling and email campaigns. Sales intelligence is the difference between being just another sales person or being the person contacting a prospect to solve a problem they are already having. Sales people will know who is having what problems based on the intelligence gathered from the thousands of news sources, blogs and social networks connected with that company or employee. Hear Umberto Milletti talk about this at a VIP event.

We see most of this already happening especially in the technology sector. There will obviously be laggards in certain industries that don’t implement a social selling strategy and unless their markets don’t use computers, they will be feeling the financial belt tighten as sales screech to a halt in the not to distant future.

Are you already using social media for sales? Tell us about it or ask some questions in the comments below.

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