Time to revisit the ol’ “social media doesn’t impact the bottom line” discussion

Social Media and Sales

At most organizations, people eventually spend less time — and care less about — things that aren’t directly tied to “making money” or “hitting targets.” A major example of this is employee engagement; everyone preaches it as a core issue but, because it’s hard to directly tie it back to the bottom-line, everyone eventually ignores it/doesn’t follow up on it, so it begins to seem like lip service. Another issue is social media. Executives embrace it because they might be on it personally (although they don’t completely understand the difference between “work” and “personal” there) or because their kids are on it or because they see competitors doing it so they figure they have to, but in reality they don’t care about it that much because the ROI is hard to prove.

Or is it?

Check this out, and specifically this:

Social Media and Sales

You’re looking at an infographic about social media and successful salespeople. For those of you who like words, consider this part:

Seventy-four percent of salespeople who beat their 2014 quota by 10% or more say they have an excellent understanding about the use of social media for prospecting, nurturing relationships and closing deals.  They were over 6x as likely to exceed their quota than sales peers with rudimentary or no social media skills.

So … people that exceed their sales quota tend to be better at social media. That makes some sense. There’s also this:

Consider that in 2014, 64% of survey respondents reported closing at least one deal as a direct result of using social media.  That’s a 10% increase over 2012.  Fifty-four percent stated that social media works well or very well for attaining quota. Respondents were clear.

Here’s where this all leads, right? Social media isn’t a real relationship — and more people need to remember that — but it is a good place to do research, learn about leads, and all that. I’d assume most of the people surveyed here, when asked about “social media,” primarily mean LinkedIn — they’re stalking potential buyers and “vendor partners” and all that (a few weeks ago, some guy on Twitter added me to a list called “Potential Vendor Partners,” which is humorous because I have absolutely no authority to buy anything).

There’s a way where social media can have direct ROI — say you make handbags and you have a snazzy Instagram account, and said account drives your sales — but in general, I would think the ROI comes in this way: use it to research, listen, observe, see “pain points,” and come in for the sale off of that. Cold-calling isn’t necessary a “skill” or a “tool” in the sales playbook come 2015, but effectively using social media can be.

And hey, it’s higher quality than most “sales advice.”

Ted Bauer