Sales Goes Social: Why Social Selling Is Shaking Things Up in The Digital Age

LinkedIn survey finds 70% of sales professionals use social media to close deals.

May 4, 2016

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For salespeople today, the rolodex and the cold call are relics of the past. The rise of software, mobile and social media has given birth to new sales strategies that give sales professionals a leg up in locking in deals.

Today, there’s no limit to what one can learn about a prospect thanks to social media. With all this in play, the game of sales, particularly in B2B, has dramatically changed the buyer-seller relationship, and those who are smart about it are winning big.

LinkedIn surveyed more than 1,000 sales professionals in the United States to understand which tools salespeople can’t live without. We also wanted to uncover the secrets behind top performers -- those that meet their sales quota, consider themselves in the top 25% of their departments, and expect to exceed their target revenue by 25%. What are they doing differently?

Social selling strategies:  An indispensable part of the toolkit

Salespeople are in the business of making connections one handshake at a time, but what’s different now? The digital revolution, coupled with big data, allows sales professionals to bring new scale to one-to-one interactions. This means that salespeople can expand their networks and have personalized interactions simply by being smart about how they use social media.  

This is known as social selling -- the art of appealing to savvy buyers and strategically leveraging social media to build relationships that deliver mutual benefits before, during and after a deal is done. It’s a way to build a positive reputation, unearth hidden insights about prospects and establish key contacts. Tapping into the power of social media is quickly becoming the norm, and here’s what we found:

  • 71% of salespeople use social selling to build and nurture relationships

  • 83% of sales professionals say social selling tools are “important” or “very important” for closing deals

  • 71% say social selling tools are “very impactful” or “impactful” on their ability to grow revenue

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Millennials rely on sales tools the most, reaping the rewards

Sales pros under 35 grew up using social media to connect with their friends, so it’s no surprise that they use these platforms to close deals, too. In fact, millennials use sales technology at higher rates than their peers across the board. Compared to their slightly older peers aged 35-54, millennials are:

  • 33% more likely to use sales intelligence tools like Sales Navigator, InsideView and Zoominfo

  • 19% more likely to use productivity apps like Google Apps, Box, Dropbox and Evernote

  • 13% more likely to use social selling tools like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter

Technology: The top sales performers’ secret weapon

What differentiates people who exceed their quarterly targets and those that don’t?
Technology, it turns out. We found that top salespeople use technology more than the average sales professional to close deals:

  • 90% of top sales reps use social selling tools to close deals, compared with 71% of all respondents.

  • 86% more likely to say that CRM technology is extremely critical to closing deals

  • 87% more likely to say that social selling tools are “extremely critical” to their ability to close deals

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In short, the formula for a fruitful sales career has changed. Social selling and new sales technology are key pillars for closing business and growing revenue among the most successful sales professionals.  

To see the full research on the future of selling, check out the eBook, The State of Sales in 2016.