A survey conducted by KiteDesk and A Sales Guy Consulting asked 524 B2B sales professionals how they use social media to prospect, nurture leads and drive deals. The results show that 70% of respondents who exceeded their 2014 quota use social media over 10% of the time, indicating that time spent engaging with prospects and clients on social networks is time well spent.
Social Sellers Beat Sales Quotas
According to the report, 74% of sales reps who beat their 2014 quota by 10% or more described themselves as “highly effective” or “better than most” at leveraging social media. What’s more, the results indicate that sales professionals who take advantage of data, insights and knowledge online are six times more likely to beat their quota than salespeople with basic or no social media skills.
This comes as little surprise. After all, social selling is about nurturing authentic relationships and providing prospects with high quality information so that when they come to make purchasing decisions, they do so with more confidence. It’s about connecting with human beings by sharing articles, industry data and insights that provide value for new and existing customers, making both discussions and negotiations more productive.
Social Selling on the Rise
What is surprising, however, is the fact that the survey places Twitter ahead of LinkedIn as the preferred social network of B2B sales reps. This change may have been influenced by a movement from formal communication to informal discussions; one respondent is quoted as saying “I like to describe Twitter as the bar after work – where you keep your tie on but loosen it a bit, and LinkedIn is the conference room in the corporate office.”
Nevertheless, social selling is on the rise across social networks; while in 2012, 54% of sales professionals closed at least one deal thanks to social media, by 2014 that number had risen to 64%.
There is a very pertinent point made in the report: “B2B buyers are firmly in the driver’s seat. Well-equipped with Google search, social forums and easy access to trusted peers and industry influencers, they prefer to discover answers for themselves, often completing a large portion of their decision making process before they even contact a vendor.”
In today’s digital environment, it is indeed buyers who call the shots, thanks to their ability to access a wealth of information and seek the opinions of industry influencers, thought leaders and fellow buyers. So in order to maintain productive relationships with prospects online, sales teams must get in on the action and place the provision of expertise ahead of pitching and pouncing.