Social selling could be the most feared and revered sales practice these days.
Many salespeople use social media throughout the sales cycle – 72% of those using social media outperform peers who don’t use it, the Social Media and Sales Quota Survey found. Revered!
Yet, sales professionals don’t exactly know what makes social a powerful selling tool. About 70% admit they aren’t proficient in social selling and are mostly self-taught, a study by Feedback Systems and Sales For Life found. Feared!
Selling through social channels has changed how entire sales organizations operate and salespeople function. And it’s happened so quickly, it might be difficult to make sense of it all.
To help, let’s look at 36 statistics that show the state of social selling:
Social selling works
Using social media to sell won’t fully replace traditional selling methods, but it certainly proves to be a solid tool for sales professionals.
- Salespeople who use social selling as part of their approach exceed their quota 23% more than colleagues who don’t or rarely use social in their selling approach, a study by A Sales Guy Consulting and Social Centered Selling found.
- Almost 55% of sales leaders have been able to directly connect social media usage to closed deals, the same study found.
- Wasted time? Not really. Almost half of the salespeople who are social selling say they spend less than 10% of their time on social media. About 80% of salespeople don’t spend more than a quarter of their time.
“When sales people use social media as an integral part of their sales process, they significantly outperform their sales peers in terms of closed deals and achieving quota,” says Keenan, the author of A Sales Guy study. “Social media’s benefit to sales is on the front-end of the sales cycle. Networking, prospecting, lead generation, pre-sales call research; uncovering opportunities by listening for trigger events, customer engagement, or keeping a closer eye on what your competitors are doing is proving to translate into tangible and measurable revenue dollars.”
- 64% of sales teams using social selling hit their goals, while just 49% of teams not using social hit. Note: In some cases, just using social medial to share and interact internally helps, an Aberdeen study found.
- Sales groups using social selling have a 55% customer renewal rate, and those not using it have a 48% renewal rate, Aberdeen found.
- 46% of salespeople who use social selling hit quota, and 38% of those not using it hit target, according to Aberdeen.
- Social selling leads to about a 15% prospecting conversion rate – about five times the rate of other prospecting activities, a Sales Benchmark Index study found.
- More than 70% of world-class organizations believe social media is highly effective for identifying new opportunities and finding decision makers, a CSO Insights researcher found.
- And social selling will continue to grow: 75% of sales leaders say their teams will continue to adopt social selling strategies in the coming years.
Buyers want social selling
Make no mistake: Buyers interact in social media and want salespeople to use social selling tactics.
- 75% of B2B buyers and 84% of C-level executives use social media to support their purchase decisions, an International Data Corporation (IDC) study found. Some buyers and executives look at what salespeople and their organizations have in social media. Some interact with salespeople via social. Many do both.
- Social sellers set 7.8 appointments per week, while non-social sellers set 4.3 appointments, the SBI study found, proving buyers are more likely to accept invitations to meet from people they know on social media.
- 63% of executives use online professional networks for help when buying, according to an IDC survey. They’re asking peers and other members of professional groups – including salespeople who are active in those social platform – for input.
“Senior executives – the C-level and VP-level buyers who demonstrate the greatest propensity to use social networks for buying – set the pace for others in their organization. Where the leaders go, others tend to follow,” said Kathleen Schaub, Vice President of Research in IDC’s CMO Advisory Practice.
- About 55% of executives who’ve used social media in their buying journey said that they felt more confident about and comfortable with the decision because of the information they received and relations they found, IDC researchers found.
- 81% of buyers are more likely to engage with a brand that has a strong, professional social media presence, the LinkedIn Social Selling Index (SSI).
- Buyers with larger budgets – up to 84% larger than their peers – and more authority are more likely to use social media in their buying decisions, the IDC study found.
- Buyers are five times more likely to engage with salespeople on social media who are referred to them, the LinkedIn SSI study found.
- 31% of executives believe social selling cultivates stronger customer relationships, according to the CSO Insights Sales Enablement Optimization Study.
LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter for social selling
LinkedIn is the top social selling platform for sales professionals, The Sales Benchmark Index found. And it makes a difference.
- Nearly 85% of social sellers use LinkedIn successfully, according to a survey by SalesForLife.
- 98% of sales reps with more than 5,000 LinkedIn connections meet or surpass their quota, according to the Sales Benchmark Index.
- 44% of buyers found potential vendors (yep, they were looking for salespeople!) by searching shared connections on LinkedIn, according to IDC research.
Facebook might seem more social than selling because people use it primarily to keep in touch with family and friends and less with businesses. But it pulls some social selling weight, too.
- 135 advocates on Facebook have greater reach – and more impact on sales – than 1 million fans, according to research from SocialHP. Those advocates can even come from inside company walls – salespeople, the CEO, a janitor.
- 78% of consumers have found a product to buy on Facebook, according to Kleiner Perkins Internet Trends report.
Twitter’s reach is fast and popular. Salespeople can use it to share content and connect quickly.
- Twitter is the second most popular social selling tool, according The State of Social Selling report, with 49% of social sellers reporting they use it successfully.
- Sales information is already running steady, too. 74% of marketers now use Twitter to share content on products and services, according to a report by The Content Marketing Institute.
Best practices for social selling
- Training matters. Everyone wants to get in on social selling. But 78% of the teams with long-term training in place are more likely to hit goals. Just 38% without formalized plans and training hit goals, according to research from SalesForLife.
- Attitude matters. Sales groups that embrace the concept of social selling – and work at delivering it – fill the pipeline 18% more and at a 28% faster pace, the SalesForLife researchers found.
- Connections matter. Sales professionals with 5,000 Linkedin connections have a 98% chance of attaining quota. Salespeople with fewer than 250 connections have about half the chance of attaining quota, the SBI researchers found.
- Digging deeper matters. Researchers found that salespeople who investigated 10 or more social media profiles for each of their accounts were 69% more likely to smash quota than colleagues who just checked a handful.
- Getting involved matters. Salespeople who post and engage in group discussions get four times more profile views than less active salespeople.
The limitations of social selling
While social is an important tool in a salespeople’s arsenal, it’s not a single path to success.
- Just 12% of top performers say they waste time surfing the web, according to research by Marc Wayshak. Their online time – at least most of it – is structured, focused and meaningful.
- Nearly 75% of salespeople say they haven’t received formal training on using social media to sell, A Sales Guy Consulting study found. We might believe that “everyone knows how to use social media.” But it’s different for sales: Social selling is part social, part professional. Sales pros need training on the balance.
- Too much is too much. Social selling can have a creepy factor, reports HubSpot.
- 65% of people find it creepy if an unknown salesperson, who shares connections, sends a message out of the blue.
- Equally creepy, according to the research: Unknown salespeople sending messages that reference a recent change or event.
- The same percentage of LinkedIn users are turned off by salespeople requesting to connect just using a generic message.
- On Facebook, about 80% of people find unsolicited sales messages and friend requests creepy.
- 40% of sales and marketing leaders say social media is a difficult channel to execute in a digital marketing plan, according to research by Ascend2.