Sales 2.0: Is it really that different?

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about how the job of B2B sales has changed since I began my career (if I told you how long ago, I’d have to kill you).

When I started out in sales, the process was pretty clear-cut.

  • Prospect on the phone.
  • Set an appointment with the highest level contact possible.
  • Meet.
  • Ask questions, go through the consultative sales process. Discuss solutions.
  • Propose.
  • Provide proof.
  • Navigate corporate structures & politics.
  • Provide competitive information.
  • Renegotiate. Repeat several of the above steps.
  • Close.

Nowadays, people talk a lot about Sales 2.0, which as far as I can tell, really doesn’t have a solid definition. It’s the idea, based at least partly in reality, that “prospects have changed”, and therefore we as sales pros need to change too.

And I agree. To a point.

The tools we use are different. We spend less time in face to face meetings, in many cases. The duties that make up the day of most salespeople are different. We’re required to understand and utilize marketing. We’re active in social media and are constantly told that it’s a sales channel. We rely heavily on web content rather than printed materials, PowerPoint, and conference calls with the tech team. But when it comes down to it, B2B customers still buy the same way, and most importantly: for the same reasons.

They want a solution to a problem.

B2B customers don’t really care what’s “hot”, for the most part. They’re ready, willing and able to spend their budgets solving problems, not jumping on the latest tech bandwagon just for the sake of trying something new. Sure, they’ll still participate in social media interactions while they’re making their decision, but you’ll note that in these conversations they’re talking more with vendors than with peers. They’re looking for information. They want answers.  There's nothing really new about this. So has B2B sales really changed all that much?  What’s your opinion?