The sales environment continues to evolve. Most if not all companies are familiar with the term Sales 2.0 and now we are introducing Social Selling to the vocabulary of sales leaders. So whats the difference?

Like I mentioned in the post Sales 3.0 is a myth, adding a number to the end of a word doesn’t magically make it more high-tech or innovative. In the case of Sales 2.0, it was more of a wake up call to sales people that the game is changing and the internet and social media hold a lot of value in the buying cycle. Sales 2.0 is the term all sales professionals should understand and embrace. This isn’t science fiction or merely forward thinking, leveraging social networks and aggregated news sources for extremely targeted intelligence on your prospects has been described by the experts as a personal CIA for salespeople.  [tweetmeme source= “insideview” only_single=false]

When you’re gathering information on a potential sales prospect, there’s an awful lot of places to look. A decent Google search only gets you part of the way there. You can look for mentions in the media, find them on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, but you also need to know what’s going on within that person’s company.

The Next Evolution is Social Selling

Social Selling is the use of sales 2.0 tools and targeted communication with the right people at the right time within social networks.

Putting a larger emphasis on leveraging social media in a sales capacity is something that many companies are trying to wrap their heads around. The stats are clear that sales intelligence increases sales win rates by 17% and sales leaders are adjusting their training budgets and processes to capitalize on this new revenue trend. This trend became even more clear with the purchase of Radian6 by Salesforce.com last month.

There is probably going to be a lot of debate around the death of cold calling for the foreseeable future. Does cold calling work? Adding a layer of intelligence to your sales process will dramatically increase sales productivity and increase your opportunity win rates. Does social media answer all the needs of every sales organization? No. But it adds an additional layer that gives sales people an edge when identifying new prospects and making that first phone call less awkward. Even marketing automation companies like Marketo see the value in leveraging social media for sales.

With so many tools now available for sales teams to use hat increase visibility to their customer decisions and needs, the obvious course of action is to engage your prospects and customers online and build even better relationships by leveraging social media. The problem is that most sales people are years behind customer support and marketing when it comes to leveraging social media communications to create any value. The good news is that good sales people are extremely adaptive and the ability to leverage social media for sales is already producing results.

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