When fax machines were first introduced (I remember the day a salesperson cold-called me with an "opportunity" for me to own my own fax machine back around 1987), experts wrote (magazine articles) about the power of the new machine and the many innovative ways it could be used in business.
When email went mainstream, experts wrote about how to integrate and use it for their sales activities.
Today, some experts are making a business out of writing about and teaching only Sales 2.0. The thing is that Sales 2.0 is not a new way to sell but it is similar to email and fax.
Where Sales 2.0 is the umbrella for the tools that help you get found, it's not really any more than those tools and how to best use them. Using some of these tools will surely lead to improved effectiveness but it can only happen if the tools are integrated into a sound sales process, used at the right time and used in an appropriate way.
One blogger sent me three emails pestering me to read a Blog article she wrote about her favorite Sales 2.0 tools. I'm not interested in sending readers to her article because the tools she selected are not essential tools. They are more like some of the apps one would find for mobile devices that are merely apps for the sake of being an app.
So what are the essential Sales 2.0 tools?
Believe it or not, one that you use every day, that has been around for years, that is worth billions of dollars - Google - but only if you show up on the first page when someone looks for what you sell. For instance, if you conduct a search for Sales Force Evaluation, Objective Management Group and one of my Blog articles appear in the first two non-sponsored results. If you conduct a search for Sales Force Development Experts, Kurlan & Associates and another of my Blog articles appear in the first two non-sponsored results.
LinkedIn - but only if you use it. You must connect to top quality people that you know as opposed to connecting to everyone you know and even those you don't know. Identify the connections not of yours, but of your contacts, that are in your sweet spot, and get introduced to those people Join appropriate groups and when possible, participate in the group discussions. Answer questions when you have either the expertise or a strong opinion on the topic. But use LinkedIn!
People Maps - When you know who you want to be introduced to, People Maps shows a visual representation of the people you know and paths you can take to get introduced.
Blogging is a an activity, and there are many Blogging tools on the market. I use and recommend Hubspot's incredible platform. For many, Blogging is the most useful of all the Sales 2.0 tools, but if you build it, will they come? Realistically, you must be able to write or contribute frequent, useful, original content, create an identity and set yourself apart or nobody will come. This Blog? It generates more than 20,000 visits per month and nearly 200 leads. While many of those leads are not in our sweet spot, or not ready, there are plenty of quality leads to keep us hopping.
Companies also use Twitter and Facebook but I'm still not sure that they are essential unless you have very frequent (multiple each day) updates that people want to know about.
There are hundreds of other tools - most of them cool - but not necessarily essential. I'm sure that some of you have your favorites but remember, to qualify as Sales 2.0, it must help you to get found or introduced.
CRM is essential, it reached its peak during the Sales 2.0 era, but it doesn't help you get found or introduced so although it is worthy, I won't devote space to it here. There are proposal writing apps, slide show creating apps, apps for accessing your apps that are all good, but not really apps to help you get found.
The point is that Sales 2.0 is not new, and we shouldn't be seeing so many articles written about what is essentially the marketing or, more specifically, the inbound marketing side of selling. That's right. It's marketing, but marketing that some of you can actually participate in.