New research by professional network LinkedIn, has revealed that UK salespeople spending up to two hours a day on social media could be more likely to hit their targets compared to their less social colleagues.
In a survey of more than 1,000 UK sales and business development professionals, more than a fifth (21%) of respondents spend 5-10 hours on social media each week. This time investment is clearly paying dividends, with high performing salespeople more likely to be dedicated ‘social sellers’. In fact, 98% of top sellers considered social selling to be ‘extremely critical’ to their ability to close deals.
Kevin Scott, Head of Sales Solutions, LinkedIn EMEA, commented, “The typical business buying process now involves more than five decision makers. Success in today’s social world relies on sales professionals being able to navigate complex social structures within the companies they want to work with. Luckily, social media helps to shed light on the key connections salespeople need to make, and makes it easier to build trusted relationships more quickly.”
Sarah Newberry, Cloud HCM Account Executive, UK&I at SAP, said: “Social media provides me with the platform to extend my reach; from prospects, to customers and thought leaders. I can get my opinion out there and engage with leading practitioners in my space. My aim is to be recognised not as a salesperson who has a transactional role but to be a leading consultant in my customers' professional networks. My time spent on social media ranges from sharing and liking insights that I deem valuable, voicing my opinion through blog posts and connecting with customers and colleagues that share my values.”
Other findings from the research include:
- Two-thirds (69%) rated the ability to quickly build trusted relationships as more important than a prospect’s willingness to buy when it comes to winning new business
- High performing salespeople are more likely to be dedicated ‘social sellers’, with 81% of top performers relying on social selling, compared to 60% overall
- Salespeople in medium-sized businesses are blazing a trail when it comes to social selling, with 58% using sales intelligence tools compared to just 34% of small and 46% of large businesses
- Millennial women are most likely to be social sellers, with just under half (48%) of women aged under 35 agreeing that it enables them to improve their relationships with customers and prospects, vs 41% of men
- Social selling tools are now more widely used than customer relationship management (CRM) tools, favoured by 60% of respondents, compared to 30% for CRM
Top tips for successful social selling
To help businesses succeed in the art of successful social selling, LinkedIn has three top pieces of advice:
1. Relationships matter. Successful social sellers make use of all the connections within their own organisations to build relationships with their customers and prospects, whether through an old contact of the CEO or a family friend of the office intern. LinkedIn’s TeamLink feature within its Sales Navigator product enables salespeople to see who in their organisation might be able to make the key introduction, even if they are not connected with their colleague on LinkedIn.
2. Be relevant. Social media has put more power into the hands of the buyer. Today business decision makers can be up to 60% along their decision-making journey before engaging a vendor. This makes it critical for salespeople and brands to engage their target audience within that initial part of the process. Having a well-established online professional brand and sharing relevant content are two quick and simple ways to grab the attention of the right decision makers.
3. Pick your moment. Good relationships take time. Don’t just jump in cold with a big ask in business without investing in learning more about your prospect first. Social media has made this much easier by enabling you to keep track of the relevant decision makers within companies, take note of the articles and updates they share in a professional context, and look for opportunities to engage them with relevant content of your own.