Web 2.0 is dead… Long Live Revenue 2.0

As the U.S. settles into what some predict is Depression 2.0, we are at the end of Web 2.0.  Not Web 2.0 the technology – that’s still just at its beginning – but the term Web 2.0 because I think it will be forever tied to the idea of a second wave of companies with no way of making money.  Web 2.0 means much more than “free web sites” as many people out of the industry believe.  It encompasses user generated content, using the web as a platform, collaborative software, web sites communicating with each other (mashups and more), etc.   I hope that as we start to take the web to the next phase, we forget catchy names… lets just worry about the one thing that businesses have worried about since the beginning of commerce…revenue.

As someone who has sold software and services for large dollar amounts, and at the same time helped organizations realize significant benefit for their money, its certainly frustrating that for the past number of years, its all been about building companies with cool features, with great buzz, and with slick interfaces.  I think the collapse of the market will bring the focus back to where it should be… revenue.  And that is good news for salespeople.  Why?  Because companies have drifted away from being sales driven, sales focused, and revenue machines, into ones that focus on building features that generate and create buzz.  Sales and revenue are going to come front and center once again, and the customers and prospects that pay will once again drive product design and direction – not exclusively the product managers and marketing team.  What was sexy last year was how much traffic you could generate, where your product was discussed, and how futuristic your idea was.  What will be sexy in 2009 is how you’ve turned that into cash.  And who is going to make that a reality?  The sales team!

Those of us that know how to jump start sales in a start-up, and drive big dollar transactions, are the key to the small businesses that want to survive.  This is in no way a slam to the FREE model as promoted by Chris Anderson.  After all, I work for a company right now that promotes a free product.  However, we’ve had a plan since day one on how to generate revenue from our free product, and it is already starting to be realized and we are on our way to profitability – almost guaranteed to be realized in 2009.  So its not a question of where your revenue comes from – but making sure that there is revenue – and that the revenue goal is realistic to support your business.

If you are to become a truly revenue driven company, it sometimes means building features and services that your customers want that perhaps are not the most sexy or most fun to build, but they are features that can be sold.  When I founded and ran Dynamic Mobile Data, my main product was a desktop application as it was developed before web sites existed (man I’m old…).  As the web evolved, my product team kept insisting that we needed to move our entire product to the web.  I resisted.  Why?  Because when I looked at my customer base and my prospects, I realized that my software was mostly installed on machines that ONLY ran my software.  It was what they used all day long and having this computer running a browser and my software offered them nothing additional.  My customers were willing to pay for other technologies including dynamic mapping, alerts, driving directions for delivery personnel, etc.  So, my resources went there.   It was a few years before I had fully integrated the web into my product – and even then it was not as sexy as what was out there.  But guess what… all that time we made a lot of sales and a lot of revenue!

Salespeople that can close business will be the key going forward.  All companies will need to become sales driven / revenue driven.  Those that understand that the best, will have the best chance of success going forward.