Is social selling the best thing since slice bread?


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Social Media - Best Thing Since Sliced BreadSocial Selling? Best thing since slide bread or the best waste of time since Tetris? According to Forbes, 78.6% of sales people using social media to sell out performed those who weren’t using social media. Social selling must be good right? Let’s try and take an unbiased look at Social Selling.  Let’s examine the biggest concerns before we look at the benefits.

Concerns and Risks

  1. Non Selling Time: Minimizing non-selling time is a genuine concern that I hear from many clients. What could be worse than the sales teams messing around all day on social media?
  2. Information leakage: can lead to privacy violations, corporate reputation damage, financial infringements, brand damage and loss of competitive advantage. To say the least.


  1. Solving the big issue: I don’t mean the magazine that homeless people sell. The biggest sales issue of our time is the relevance of sales people. Customers can get a less biased view of our products and services from the internet, without the worry of being sold to. That is why customers are only engaging sales people towards the end of their purchasing process. Listening to customers through social media can alert us to when they may need us, allowing us to enter earlier into the purchasing process.
  2. Warming up leads: cold calling may have had its time. Let’s rebrand it, ‘Calling Warmed by Social Selling’. Trips off the tongue. According to Heinz Marketing, Social selling generated 40% more qualified leads and opportunities than cold calling. It’s far more effective when you call someone new with context and value.
  3. Competitor Intelligence: let’s face it, we don’t sell in a vacuum. Or indeed in a Dyson. We sell against the competition. Helping the customer to work their way through the alternative options is a way to influence and add value in the sale. Using social networks is a lot like being able to legally spy on them. So you get great information and get to feel like 007. Here’s an article that builds on this from Duct Tape marketing.

Conclusion: the question in my mind is not should we be social selling, but how do we gain the benefits whilst mitigating the risks? This does not seem an impossible task, but it is back to good old-fashioned processes and management. According to Forbes 93% of sales people have received no training in using social media, and 53% want help in doing so, so after you’ve set up your social media policies, maybe that could be a good place to start?

Alistair McQuade
Alistair McQuade is an engaging and passionate sales trainer and programme designer. His incredible insight is rooted in a long and successful career in sales, in which he has held a number of senior sales positions, including Sales Manager, Sales and Marketing Director and Global Head of Education. His career has taken him across different industries and continents, working with world class companies, including Facebook, Vodafone, Lonza, O2, WPP, Mediacom, LinkedIn, Sabre Travel Network and Intel.


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