Sales 2.0: No more information gatekeepers


This is my second post on how sales needs to evolve with the new buyers, check out part one in you are interested in more on this topic. This post discusses how salespeople can take advantage of the newly informed buyer and still help them with their project.

The B2B technology sale has changed in the past few years. Before sales reps were information gatekeepers. The buyer needed to consult their sales rep to get any relevant information. The sales rep also scheduled meetings with the technical team, delivered relevant product information and scheduled any appropriate demonstrations. After a few conversations the sales rep would typically go on site with a laptop, a powerpoint, a few leave behinds and the company credit card to woo the prospect into a making a decision.

After the Boom, budgets shrank, and telephone, electronic communications, and webinars replaced many of the face to face interactions. Then websites became informative and started producing content for online consumption. And it is easy enough to access with a web search or a valid email address.

Prospects are now as knowledgeable as the sales person.

Let that sink in for a minute.

Salespeople are no longer information gatekeepers. You have to learn to deliver a different kind of value. One of the most successful salespeople at my company succeeds because he is really great at uncovering future problems the customer hasn’t identified as concerns. He is proving that he has knowledge, based on his experience within various stages of their implementation lifecycle. By sharing this knowledge of potential outcomes, he is putting the customer first by helping understand where they will go as they use the technologies.

So where does the Sales 2.0 Account manager fit?

Your job is to help your prospect understand what happens once they deploy your system. Laying out the benefits after the 1st month, the 6th month and the 12 month post-purchase will allow you to deliver more value than your competitors.
Talk to your marketing team about creating project guides to support the sales process. Each account manager should be prepared to secure a few reference accounts to use in these guides, but combining this with your typical case study will help seal the deal. The project guide would cover best practices, how to choose a solution and what happens after the solution is deployed. Technology only delivers if your customer understands how it delivers. And if you keep building that relationship through the product lifecycle, you’ll be well positioned to continue to generate revenue after the product is retired.

Although your buyer will seek out unadulterated accounts about your company, products and customer service, vendors still have opportunity in demonstrating their deployment experience and best practices to succeed with any product, to engage the customer. Your prospect will value your input when you provide neutral and valuable information.

4 thoughts on “Sales 2.0: No more information gatekeepers

  1. I found your site on technorati and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. Looking forward to reading more from you.

    Aaron Wakling

  2. There’s a big difference between knowledge and information. There’s also a big difference between “reading how to do something” and having the experience of having done something over and over in all different types of situations.

    Unfortunately, most salespeople don’t have these experiences.

    A good marketing then sales process is a process which educates prospects and then makes expert recommendations based on the seller’s experience and the prospect’s unique challenges. Since prospects can access “information” themselves now, though and smart companies will give it to them through the marketing process, salespeople will need to truly be experts so they can diagnose and recommend solutions – not just pitch products.

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