Why Social Media is The Best Kept Secret in Selling

Patricia Sherlock

“I don’t have time to be on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter. I am making sales calls.” Have you ever heard this comment from your originators? Perhaps you’ve even thought this yourself.

If so, that one statement says it all about your sales organization’s view of social media and represents a failure to grasp just how significantly technology has impacted the sales process and the buying process.

Simply put, social media is the new phone. Social media is both an inbound and outbound way to connect and communicate with prospects. Is it the only way to communicate with everyone? Of course not. But, social media is certainly the preferred method of communication for the younger generation (first-time buyers) and it has the added benefit of allowing the sales person to call on more people in a day than would be possible using the phone.

In my experience, older originators (and many managers) view social media as wasted time or even worse, goofing around. In Tom Martin’s excellent book, “The Invisible Sale,” he says, “It’s every bit as important and impactful as the time you spend cold calling on the phone. You’re still on the phone. It’s just a more modern version. It’s sort of like when you dumped your old rotary phone for a fancy, speedy push-button version. Only this new phone, it’s actually better.”

Why do managers think that phone calls are better for prospecting? Many managers believe this because phone calls are what they used to source business in their own selling careers. But the times have changed and many prospects and referral sources have effectively filtered out all telephone cold calls. The truth is that social media lets the sales person reach more potential prospects than any other sourcing effort and is increasingly the way to start and maintain a relationship.

Why is social media the best kept secret in selling? As Martin contends in his book, social media allows the originator to network in scale by establishing a sense of attachment between the sales person and the prospect.

Ask your originators or marketing executives how many phone calls or emails get returned when prospecting. The reality is stunning. Most research shows a response rate of less than 1%! The heady days of 5% response rates have been over for a while. It is time to recognize that investing in these traditional marketing efforts are costly and do not generate the best bang for the buck.

Originators who fail to use social media in their prospecting efforts will inevitably lose business to sales professionals who embrace these tools and take the initiative to develop relationships before prospects are even ready to buy or do business.

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