Sales 2.0 Still Doesn’t Replace Sales 1.0

This one is going to sting a little. Actually, a lot.

Today I had a telephone conversation with Jeb Brooks of The Brooks Group. Our conversation turned to Sales 2.0 and whether or not those who believe that Sales 1.0 is going to be replaced by Sales 2.0 are indeed correct.

Our conversation was brought about by my keeping this blog and through communicating over Twitter. Even though there is no financial arrangement between us, I am not his customer or prospect, and he is not my customer or prospect, we might be able to help each other in the future. Our relationship was started through these technologies.

In fact, last week I made a trip to Atlanta where I had dinner with Todd Youngblood (sales consultant and frequent contributor here), Stone Payton, and Todd Schnick. Earlier in the same day, I was on a radio program with Dan Waldschmidt with Trey Pennington, Brett Arp, and Jay Handler. I only know these people through social media marketing, our blogs, Twitter, and Facebook.

And this is what makes social media and Sales 2.0 tools so valuable: relationships! But Sales 2.0 isn’t a replacement for Sales 1.0; it is an enabler.

Jeb told me about his experience at the Sales 2.0 conference. Some people there suggested that Sales 1.0 will no longer exist because of Sales 2.0, and that salespeople will no longer be either necessary or effective.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Nothing. Period.

Sales 2.0 will never, never, never, ever replace Sales 1.0. Those that suggest this to be true are either selling Sales 2.0 solutions (perhaps moving away from setting expectations a little too ambitiously and closing in on Pinocchio), or they are delusional.

What Sales 2.0 Cannot Replace

Sales 2.0 is a set of tools, tactics and strategies that may allow for some successful lead generation. But, as effective as inbound marketing may be, it will never replace the outcome an effective salesperson can generate by simply picking up the phone and calling their dream client.

Before you cry foul, think about it. You really want this dream client. You can hope they find you on the Internet, or you can pick up the phone, dial them, ask them to tell you how you can create value for them, and schedule an appointment. That sounds like cold calling, doesn’t it? It is . . . waiting is not, was not, and never will be an effective activity.

You know how I feel about trigger events.

Sales 2.0 may develop a lead, but what happens to that lead still depends on what is done with it once it is obtained. Those who believe their business can survive and thrive with salespeople who cannot generate interest and obtain commitments using Sales 1.0 techniques is, quite simply, wrong. It is dangerous and it borders on criminal.

The fact that Sales 2.0 may generate a lead or enable a conversation does nothing to improve the salesperson’s ability to differentiate their offering in a crowded marketplace, to diagnose the ground truth of the lead’s organization, to develop and understand the needs of the members of its 14 person buying committee, to develop the dissatisfaction necessary to create the rationale and the motivation for buying, to present the story of a better future together, to manage a complex change effort, to handle a major crisis when a deal goes south, to exercise the leadership to manage the delivery of what was promised, and to manage the outcomes.

This is to say nothing of the attribute that I recognize as being the real defining differentiator: business acumen.

Sales is about outcomes, plain and simple. Sales 2.0 does nothing to change any of this.

Yes, I Love Sales 2.0 (But Make Mine a 3.0)

I am a technophile. I have more cool tools than most, and I live and work on the Internet. I use Jigsaw, LinkedIn, Twitter, Glance, and AdobeConnect. I love what the guys at Kineticast are doing.

But Sales 2.0, despite the fact that it requires well-thought tactics and strategies, is still a series of tools. These tools are enablers.

There is no effective Sales 2.0 without an effective Sales 1.0. These are not mutually exclusive: Sales 1.0 + Sales 2.0 = Sales 3.0!

Ignore the technological disruption of Sales 2.0 at your peril. These tools are the new normal. If you are an old sales professional, suck it up and learn to live on the Internet. Learn to use the tools. Your age does not give you permission to avoid learning how to communicate with your dream clients using the new technological enablers.

But ignore Sales 1.0 at a much greater, and a much more certain peril. If you are a sales professional growing up with these tools, don’t believe for a second that you can be soft, that you don’t have to sound like a salesperson, that your job isn’t about obtaining commitments, or that you don’t have to learn to sell.

Jeb’s Question

Jeb asked me whether I would choose a Sales 1.0 approach, with none of the existing tools, or a Sales 2.0 approach, with only the tools and not the attributes and skills that I have written about here and here. As long as I could keep the greatest technological revolution in B2B sales, the telephone, I will take a strong Sales 1.0 approach every time.

For my money, nothing has a greater impact on a deal than the salesperson. With or without Sales 2.0.


Sales 2.0 is a set of important tools, tactics, and strategies. But these tools do nothing to help a salesperson or a sales organization that isn’t already well-equipped with the skills and attributes that make up Sales 1.0.


  1. Do you believe that technological tools can replace the attributes and skills of a professional salesperson?

  2. Do rely on the tools as a crutch because you haven’t developed the skills and attributes of a sales professional?

  3. How can you use the Sales 2.0 tools to improve your effectiveness with Sales 1.0, instead of trying to replace them?

  4. Are salespeople who cannot create value worth your time regardless of their tools or approach?

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  • Dan Collins

    Exceptional summary. Sales 2.0 is certainly not going to ‘replace’ the salesperson or indeed the 1.0 nature of meet n greet outside of cyberspace, either by phone or in person. It is certainly expanding the initial base of contacts we all have and exponentially ‘touching’ enormous numbers. But that initial touch is by it’s very nature a tertiary first contact. I believe those that are ‘hoping’ that 2.0 replaces the need for the dynamics of 1.0 fall into two camps. Those with a vested interest, as you described, and those who are looking for a connection and revenue creation which does not require as much effort. 2.0 does play into the ‘work smarter not harder’ mindset but as you so eloquently stated, and I often preach to a non plussed audience, those are not mutually exclusive concepts. 2.0 is a great tool and 1.0 has exceptional methodology and lessons – they are not mutually exclusive. Just like we can all learn to work harder AND smarter and be more productive, satisfied and indeed balanced in our lives (with those concepts not being mutually exclusive either).

  • Juan

    Hi Anthony,
    You are correct! Business negotiations are and will be done at least between 2 human beings. Computers, CRM, Sales systems, IT gadgets will never close you a sell. Amazon one of the most technological advanced companies bought Zappos because of its people’s culture.

    Do you believe that technological tools can replace the attributes and skills of a professional salesperson? R- Those are tools, like skills with people, knowing your products, your company core competencies, etc, are all together tools to allow you to bring the best value to my customers.

    Do rely on the tools as a crutch because you haven’t developed the skills and attributes of a sales professional? R- Again a nice presentation on an iPad will not close me sell, I still need all other skills like prospecting, presenting, closing, aswering concerns, follow up, customer service, quantifying the benefits, etc, etc.

    How can you use the Sales 2.0 tools to improve your effectiveness with Sales 1.0, instead of trying to replace them? R- One example is mobility, time responsiveness, no need to wait until I arrive to the office to get back to my customers if I can do it right there and there to solve its problem.

    Are salespeople who cannot create value worth your time regardless of their tools or approach? R -Yes, I donot like wasting my time, due to a sales person getting late to the meeting, or an unprepared person, how many times have you seen an “experienced” sales person arriving to a meeting to ask the question – How May I help you today? or just ” I wanted to meet with you to see how things are going?….etc, etc.

  • Mike Weinberg

    Thanks Anthony for conviction and consistency. I appreciated you helping me sort this out on a phone call with you and this post was great reinforcement. I’m in the middle of this ongoing dialogue with my team and, as usual, you delivered timely insights.

  • Todd Youngblood

    You’re right on the money again, Anthony. I remember when e-mail was supposedly going to eliminate the need for most face-to-face calls, then it was video conferencing, then web conferencing, now sales 2.0. How many freaking times do we need to learn the same lesson? Excepting commodity items B2B Sales has been and will continue to be a person-to-person, human-to-human endeavor. New tools are critical, but only to facilitate communication and reduce cycle time. – Todd

    • Keenan

      e-mail didn’t eliminate the need for most face to face calls, but it has certainly minimized the use of the phone. The primary engagement tool for more and more people IS email.

      Change is a funny thing.

  • Steve Schiffman

    Another pithy commentary

  • Keenan

    My favorite phrase these days:

    We tend to over estimate the rate of change yet underestimate the impact of change.

    You’ve hit on that here. Whether or not Sales 2.0 is the end of Sales 1.0 or not isn’t as compelling as what will the impact of Sales 2.0 be, when it is all said and done?

  • trish bertuzzi

    On your bus buddy and well said! We wrote a post called “Have You Mastered Sales 1.5?” last June that talks about the same thing. Here is an excerpt:

    Sales 2.0 is getting tons of buzz right now in the technology market. There are lots of different definitions out there, but here’s mine:

    Sales 2.0 is an outcome not an event. The process requires you to transform your business from one that is focused on selling to one that is focused on letting the market buy from you.

    Sales 2.0 requires a change in mindset. It requires focus on buyer personas, lead nurturing, content development, social networking strategies, web 2.0 tool, etcetera, etcetera.

    We are in agreeement on the end result. There’s no silver bullet. There’s nothing but hard work, well thought out strategies and flawless execution.

    • S. Anthony Iannarino

      Thanks, Trish. I struggle with the idea of changing from being focused on selling to being focused on letting buyers buy from me. I don’t believe that “if you build it, they will come.” I struggle with the idea that salespeople should focus on something other than selling. Inactivity is a recipe for failure.

  • Jeb Brooks

    Great post.

    It’s a poor salesperson who ignores technology altogether. But it’s an even poorer one who can’t sell in the first place.

    And you’re right on, Anthony: There’s no telling when and how we’ll be able to help each other as a result of our technology-fused connection.

    • S. Anthony Iannarino

      Thanks, Jeb! You and I are cut form the cloth on this one! Nice chatting with you last week, too.

  • Steve Watts

    The point is spot on, I think.

    The point of a digital phone dialer, for example, doesn’t change the intrinsic nature of what the rep is doing; it’s a phone call to a prospect–hot, cold, anywhere in between.

    But what it does do is take that “Sales 1.0″ activity and doubles or triples the amount of “effort” without the rep having to spend any more time. A dialer, or a mass marketing digital product of any kind, is like giving a gatling gun to a guy who’s used to firing a pea shooter.

    But if the guy firing the dialer gatling gun doesn’t have a clue how to aim it, or what he’s supposed to be shooting in the first place, all you’ve got is a bad sales rep tripling their number of bad sales calls.

  • Greg Woodley

    Couldn’t agree more Anthony.
    Sales 2.0, is it really even sales. More like marketing to me since it brings in the prospect but selling is what converts that prospect into a customer and excellent service turns that customer into a client and a raving fan.

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