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Can a Kinder, Gentler Sales 2.0 Rep Still Make Quota?

30 August 2009

I was in New York last week, attending and speaking on “Tools and Strategies for the New Sales Era“at the CRM Evolution conference. Starting with Paul Greenberg‘s opening keynote, “The Voice of the Customer” and continuing for three days with presentations including Thomas Cates’s  “Relationship Marketing: Client Retention & Loyalty as the New Sales Strategy,” and Brent Leary’s “CRM and the Socially Empowered Customer,”  the recurring message of the event was clear:  in order to be successful in the new sales era of Sales 2.0, we must recognize the emergence of the new “social customer” and change the way we sell to them.  For you Twitter afficionados, you can see my live tweets, along with those of some true thoughts leaders in social CRM by searching #CRMe09 and #SCRM. Today’s customer demands that we:

  • do more listening, sharing, and participating
  • embrace new ways of communicating (social media being a big topic)
  • personalize and individualize the buying experience

But as I explained these key themes, which echo those I wrote about in Sales 2.0, to a sales executive at a multibillion dollar software company, he clearly wasn’t buying it.  In his company, known for its aggressive sales culture, he feels “hunters” – sales reps that one associates with a predatory, “bring in the deal whatever it takes” mentality -are typically more successful than “farmers” – sales reps that nurture customers and are relationship-oriented – at reaching competitive sales goals.  This explains why the company doesn’t split all its sales territories into different patches for new business and existing customers.

Cross-industry surveys of Chief Sales Officers, including CSO Insights‘s annual Sales Performance Optimization report consistently show that the best-performing companies have a combination of the best, most flexible process and the strongest customer relationships.  But now I wonder:

  • could there be exceptions in certain industries, some markets, or merely with certain individual buyers for whom a competitive “in your face” sales approach is tolerated or even appreciated?
  • does a maniacal focus on making quota preclude being customer-focused?

What do you think? What are you experiencing?