Book Review: Selling 2.0--Motivating Customers in the New Economy

When the customer changes, salespeople must change as well. And thanks to the Internet today's customer has metamorphosed from the passive object of sophisticated sales and marketing strategies to the party controlling the information and ultimately owning the sale.

In the late 1990s, veteran salesman Josh Gordon recognized that his sales strategy was changing in response to this fundamental shift. The new economy, fueled by the Internet, has created a more powerful customer--one that requires much more attention--and catering to that customer requires a new approach to selling.

No longer is it realistic for a salesperson to say, "Buy my product X now, because it's not going to be around too much longer!" Today's customer knows that not only will the competition have a product X as well, but theirs may be faster, less expensive and come in a more appealing color. Gordon's book, Selling 2.0: Motivating Customers in the New Economy, encourages salespeople to abandon the traditional pitch and close selling method and instead become customer motivators.

Gordon realized that what he wanted to do in the new economy was to motivate the customer to buy from him as opposed to simply try to close a sale. Inspired by this thought, he interviewed 100 top salespeople and sent out an extensive mail survey to others, asking them what they were doing to get customers to buy from them. As he states on page xxii of the Introduction, Gordon was "dazzled at the quantity of great new ideas innovative salespeople everywhere were developing in relative isolation from each other." What had begun as a personal project to help him understand a new selling strategy turned into a global template for sales in the new economy.

Selling 2.0 is an outline of techniques and strategies that have evolved from the new sales model. In Chapter 3, "Building Trust," Gordon elaborates on the changing sales model by offering the following breakdown: Salespeople used to spend roughly 40 percent of their time closing a deal, 30 percent working on prospects, 20 percent qualifying leads and 10 percent establishing a relationship with the (potential) customer. Gordon estimates that today's customer motivator spends 40 percent of his time building trust, 30 percent identifying the customers' needs, 20 percent presenting a solution to those needs and 10 percent confirming and closing the deal.

Each chapter offers a specific topic on motivating customers, providing a detailed explanation of the topic as well as suggested approaches on how to actually incorporate the technique in a sales environment. Gordon explains that if you adopt the motivational approach to selling, the customer is more likely to decide that you are the person he wants to do business with. By creating such a personal experience and taking the time to inspire the customer, motivational agents build lasting relationships with the customer, typically eliminating the competition.

The irony that Gordon also authored the book Tough Calls: Selling strategies to Win Over Your Most Difficult Customers, a practical, hands-on book about selling, is not lost on him. He uses himself as an example of adapting to new times, including personal experiences at the start of every chapter.

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