Survey: Social Media Selling Widely Used

According to a new survey from LinkedIn, a large majority of salespeople rely on social media as an essential tool to boost their sales. The annual report found that 71% of overall sales professionals use social media platforms to increase sales, a figure that jumps to 90% for top-performing salespeople. In addition, millennials are more likely to use a variety of sales tools compared to Gen X and baby boomer counterparts.

“People still buy from people they like, know and trust. Done right, social media is the best way to do this at scale,” said Kirby Hasseman, owner of Hasseman Marketing (asi/221824), an avid presence on social media and the creator of the podcast Delivering Marketing Joy. “Social media and content creation are the best ways to showcase your expertise and connect with people across the country.”

In the report, top salespeople across the board use sales technologies more often than the overall group, including CRM tools, relationship-building tools, email tracking and productivity apps. Use of those tools also decreased with age. Millennials are 33% more likely than Gen Xers to use sales intelligence tools, which generate background and contact information on leads. Nearly 80% of millennials practice social selling (building and nurturing relationships with prospects and customers over social networks) compared to nearly 70% of Gen Xers and over 55% of baby boomers.

The data matches information from the upcoming Counselor State of the Industry report that highlights the growing importance of social media to distributors as sources of new business. A total of 27% this year used social networking to gain new business compared to 19% the previous year.

Steve Flaughers, owner of Proforma 3rd Degree Marketing (asi/490897), recently landed a strong new client through those means. His distributorship does consistent business with a university, and Flaughers is Facebook friends with many of the administrators and office workers at the school. One woman from the university had a friend who desperately needed help because the vendor dropped the ball on a very important project. After a virtual intro through Facebook, Flaughers spoke with the friend over the phone and managed to deliver the product in time for the woman.

“We saved the day, we earned a new client, we’re now socially connected,” Flaughers said. “She’s already verbally stated, ‘Hey, I’m going to share your information with everyone I know because you really saved my hind end.’ … I would never have met that person in my life. She lives in the southern part of another state.”  

The LinkedIn survey found that a third of CRM users spend 3-5 hours a week using those tools, while almost one-quarter of users spend more than 10 hours a week. Nearly 30% of sales professionals spend 3-5 hours a week with social selling, while another 21% spend 5-10 hours per week.