I was at the opening day of the Sales 2.0 conference in San Francisco yesterday and had a great talk with Jim Keenan, you may know him as @keenan. He sent a tweet during the keynote session with his thoughts on why sales people are not embracing social media though all of the data is showing that leveraging social media for sales intelligence increases revenue.

My thoughts on why sales people aren’t embracing social faster – We’re too linear if it doesn’t get a sale NOW,we’re not interested! #s20c

— Jim Keenan (@keenan) April 2, 2012

I dont think he’s far off base. Sales people are developed to look for the deals they can get now and not building a pipeline that extends after a few months. For companies looking for revenue, this isnt a bad formula, you need sales to stay in business but it should be looked at with a longer telescope for real growth and social selling can help with that. Companies of all sizes are leveraging social media for marketing communication, some are even able to track revenue from it but it hasn’t scaled correctly out to the sales teams that can really make an impact.

The chasm is growing for sales

Keenan mentions some of this in his blog post The growing chasm between sales person 1.0 and sales person 2.0.

This post speaks directly to the content of the conference and his tweet about the adoption of social selling. The game is changed and companies need to figure it out. The ability to leverage technology to identify prospects and retain customers is not something magical, it’s as shift in how people want to do business with others. I’m not saying that phone calls and emails are dead, I’m saying that relevant conversations that turn contacts in your CRM into people you can connect with should be the directive, not the hope of a sales organization. Besides the traditional sales methods you are following and measuring, new metrics should be placed on how engaged your sales people are with tir prospects and customers.

As the chasm grows, more adaptive sales people are moving forward at a faster pace than their competitors that have not learned how to leverage sales intelligence. Knowing that a growing number of CxO or other executives are too busy to take calls and reply to email campaigns, the smart sales people are learning how to connect and engage with people in social networks that these people are spending their time in. Even if the sales person isn’t willing to communicate with their prospects in the social space, they can listen to their conversations to get a better understanding of WHO they are and form a better plan of how and what to communicate with them.

Companies that train their sales teams to think more long term when it comes to lead generation and customer retainment will reap larger rewards. A blog that a sales person writes today can generate leads for the next few years if written well. We heard during the keynote of the Sales 2.0 conference that there are sales managers that require their sales teams to blog on a reglar basis for this exact reason. Take this down to an individual sales rep level and you can see that what they post online in an answers forum or social network today can be seen by people trying to solve simular problems for a long time. This will drive relevant people to you as a sales person and it can be acted on to generate new business and be measured.