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Another Opinion About Selling In This Economy

Read McKinsey’s recent article, The downturn’s new rules for marketers (registration required).

I was pleasantly surprised to see some sound advice about sales organization function and structure in the article.   The real meat for those of us on the sales side is near the end of the piece, beginning with, “Reprioritizing sales function.”

There is no shortage of advice about selling during this recession floating around the Internet these days.  What ESR’s clients are more interested in is not quick sales tips, but alternatives for territory coverage, resourcing, sales organization structure, and value proposition relevancy.

What concerns me is that many sales leaders in trouble will jump at any idea.  Some of those I speak with are doing exactly that.  The McKinsey article will hopefully convince you to assess your situation carefully first.  A strategy that can help one company reduce a projected revenue shortfall by 10 or 15% may make things considerably worse for another.

Your sales people need direction, motivation and firm leadership (among other things).  There couldn’t be a worse time than now for the ready, fire, aim approach.

Graphic credit: © Adrian Hillman – Fotolia.com

Web 2.0 Adoption Stats: Disappointing or a Call to Action?

I read an article on Inc.com about a recent survey performed by Robert Half.  According to the results of the polling of 1,400 CIOs (from companies with 100 or more employees), 60 percent of them currently have (47%) or are planning to deploy (13%) online training.  “At the same time, most respondents were less interested in emerging Web 2.0 technologies, with nearly three quarters saying they had no immediate plans to adopt blogs, wikis, and other networking tools.  Despite their potential benefits, many businesses are likely waiting for these technologies to spread before implementing them as an essential business tool, according to Katherine Spencer Lee, the firm’s executive director.”

The phrase that hit me was, “…many businesses are likely waiting for these technologies to spread before implementing them as an essential business tool.” I read it again and again with Geoffrey Moore’s (actually Joe M. Bohlen and George M. Beal in 1957) technology adoption cycle flashing persistently in my mind’s eye.

Rogers' bell curve

Where is your company on the Web 2.0 technology adoption lifecycle?

Initially I was discouraged. 

I would have thought the 60 percent number would have been higher, considering it included companies that were planning to deploy Web 2.0 technology in the next five years. 

Then I began to think about my years in the enterprise application software industry and our many customers who became (or retained their position as) market leaders as a result of employing technology to support the execution of winning business strategies.  Whether they were innovators, early adopters, or even the first wave of the early majority, they changed the playing field, sometimes in the face of considerable risk. 

Whether it’s gen-i or GE, companies that have a strong competitive business strategy and deploy technology in its execution possess a significant asset for competitive advantage.

So, if you’re reading this and your company is in the 40 percent group, you’d be well advised to strongly consider not “waiting for these technologies to spread before implementing” Web 2.0, or Sales 2.0 or any other leverageable technology. 

Not convinced that you need to get on board the Web 2.0 train? 

This is from the McKinsey report referenced below: “Almost 60 percent of the respondents satisfied with Web 2.0 initiatives (but only 42 percent of other respondents) see them as a driver of competitive advantage. Expect these companies to become more aggressive in the marketplace against rivals that are slower to get on board.”

If you are “slower to get on board,” you might very well be relegated to picking over the customers your competitors have decided are not worth pursuing.

One last point:  What laggards have to realize is Web 2.0 and Sales 2.0 are not some dot-bomb start-ups such as we had in the late ’90s. These 2.0 technology-based business-enablers aren’t going away.

The old imperative “Get with the program” has rarely been more relevant.

Additional reading:

Building the Web 2.0 Enterprise: McKinsey Global Survey Results