Tele Sales versus Social Sales – first performance comparison


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Social media is all OVER – BUT still not IN the sales departments. While there is a lot of noise around social media there were just not enough data points that prove the effectiveness of social media.

The top telesales guys can do 100 call outs – touch base with 10 and get to their goals with three – every day. Compared to chit chat on Twitter – a few nice words on Facebook or some discussions on LinkedIn groups.

But that is changing
As we started to develop a new product we tested an all new social sales process and a new product in an alpha version. Two points of view:
1) Social selling processes
2) Technology
The social sales person was able to reach out to 200+ people a day on a consistent basis, had interactions with 50 and drove results with 15. In other words the social sales organization was twice as efficient and 5 times as effective – or 5 times more successful.

Processes and Technology
New processes to actually engage socially in an efficient way was a big part of this result. Also the underlying technology. A shift in skills is also important to note: Social sales teams need verbal / writing skills versus tele sales teams need oral skills. Implications here are that prepared written quotes can be easier provided and applied than spoken word phrases.

Behavioral Change
A supporting factor for the substantial difference however lays in the behavioral changes in the market:
1) The Likelihood of a customer to take a phone call is simply much lower than responding to any kind of online social interaction
2) The ability to quickly grasp the customers profile, interests and desires and instantly respond to those is much faster than trying to explore the persons personal profile on the phone.
3) The high degree of attractiveness of the new social web furthermore indicates a new sense of social interest to the customer while the call only indicates “I want to sell you something”.

Organizational Implications
A first review indicated that a social sales organization is easier to manage and outsource than a tele sales organization. However tele sales people are widely available versus social sales people are basically an all new job category with a different skill set and a different process flow.

The superior results and the better customer experience however suggest that it is at least worth exploring this new method.

Happy to share more insight.


Axel Schultze
CEO of Society3. Our S3 Buzz technology is empowering business teams to create buzz campaigns and increase mentions and reach. S3 Buzz provides specific solutions for event buzz, products and brand buzz, partner buzz and talent acquisition buzz campaigns. We helped creating campaigns with up to 100 Million in reach. Silicon Valley entrepreneur, published author, frequent speaker, and winner of the 2008 SF Entrepreneur award. Former CEO of BlueRoads, Infinigate, Computer2000.


  1. Axel:

    I like the statistics that you offer. People want (and should expect) information that helps build an ROI for a social media program

  2. Axel,
    Interesting results.

    I have to admit the numbers don’t set my world on fire… The doubling in activity – i.e. 100 attempts jumping to 200 – this seems more like an efficiency drive rather than an effectiveness one. But maybe given its still early days you need to focus on efficiency first.

    There are certain dangers in some of your points that I’d like to discuss.

    The ability to quickly grasp the customers profile, interests and desires and instantly respond to those

    I understand where you’re going with this but at face value it seems a very one dimensional – almost monologue way of approaching social engagement. It almost seems like how recruiters are using LinkedIn at the moment – searching profiles to try and find candidates.

    In reality, the more effective way to engage is to listen to what users are talking about, and then use this activity as a way of reaching out to seek engagement.

    While the call only indicates “I want to sell you something”

    I think you’ve oversimplified the function of sales nurturing/inside sales. Many organisations are using the inside sales team to cultivate sales opportunities – as a mechanism to determine the most appropriate/ economical means to potentially sell something to them. So the purpose of the call is not to sell something, but to determine where they are in the buying cycle and if they are ready to have a sales discussion who they should engage with – i.e. partner, field sales, corporate sales.

    I know some of my points are situation specific – but then again, so are the points you’re making – it’s not clear from your post what the specific situation is.

    Having said all that, I think your conclusion is correct – this is worth exploring. I think organisations need to be ready for a period of significant structural and cultural change though.

    This won’t be easy and it won’t happen overnight.

    Mark Parker
    Smart Selling

  3. Hi Axel: Great post!

    My thoughts (in no particular order):

    1. I wouldn’t write off telesales–not just yet. Annoying as phone solicitations are to me and others, so many companies wouldn’t use telephones for sales communication (including telesales) if it weren’t for one reason: it works.

    2. Social media is changing rapidly and legacy software and sales processes simply haven’t been agile in adopting it. But eventually, it will be rare to find a selling organization that doesn’t embed social media tools into everyday selling processess. Is ‘eventually’ a long time? I’m not sure.

    3. Social media tools don’t fit every selling situation (to echo Mark’s point). While some depend on prospecting efficiency as a critical success factor, others–for example, major account sales–don’t. Others are highly dependent on face-to-face interaction. The list goes on. So I see social media as a tactic that varies in importance according to the environment.

    4. Millions of business decision makers today don’t use Twitter or have a Facebook account. Alas, as they retire, those numbers will diminish (or when their Grandkids show them how to use the tools!). But for now, I can’t think of a single B2B salesperson who would say a non-Twitterer isn’t an important person to reach. It’s a good bet that these social-media Luddites can be reached on a voice-communication device (what used to be called a phone).

  4. Thanks everybody.
    @Mark – you are right, one may read this as “staring” at profiles like linkedin Recruiters. But the actual work is to “read” the contacts activities. Only then you understand what they are all about. Listening is getting to understand what the customers want. Not necessarily on the phone but in their activities.
    I need to show you the process once. “It is all about the relationship not the network”.

    @Andrew – you are right many million will not move fast – like always when new technology or behavioral changes are on the horizon. The above post is not for the ones who just wait and see but for the ones who have been and remain to be leaders.

    Who would have thought that an online shoe dealer gets acquired for $860 Million like Zappos. Who would have thought that Cisco is thriving during a recession while ALL their competitors are close to bankruptcy – who can understand that is successful while the rest of the SaaS companies are maintaining a mediocre role. All have one in common: An extraordinary effort to create a better customer experience. Not by writing a CEM manifesto but by
    1) Refrain from annoying cold calls
    2) Understanding if something will be successful eventually not waiting like a lemming to follow the leaders but be a leader
    3) Not being a slave of social media but leveraging it as appropriate
    4) Don’t care what millions of businesses NOT DO but really care what their customers do 😉


  5. Hi Axel,
    So we’re in agreement on the issue of activity versus profile – I knew we were, but it’s an important point to make.

    I do have to call you out on though – I can’t believe you’ve started drinking their kool-aid? Tell me it ain’t so? has done a great job but inferring that everyone else in that space is mediocre is an insult.

    How are these examples mediocre?

    • RightNow Technologies has pioneered on-demand service and customer experience management – are only now starting to get into this space
    • SugarCRM has been a pioneer in making the cloud open – want to lock you into their proprietary system thereby closing the cloud.


    Mark Parker
    Smart Selling


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