Customer Experience News & Trends

Social media: Ignore it at your peril

Research by renown sales experts Jim Keenan and Barbara Giamanco shows that 72.6% of salespeople using social media exceed quotas 23% more often than their peers.

One big reason why: Prospects are using Google, personal and professional social media networks, communities and blogs to broaden their thinking before meeting with salespeople. They want to take part in collaborative dialogues, not the one-way sales conversations of the past.

Social media is powerful for salespeople because it’s a source of insight into prospects’ problems, opportunities, successes and concerns.

Social media will also help you create a competitive edge that will enable you to produce better results for your prospects. You are 30% more likely to have a quality conversation with a prospect through LinkedIn than simply sending an email, according to new research.


Prospects were more tolerant in the past about educating salespeople about their problems and needs. Now they expect salespeople to know everything possible based on the resources available to them. They have little patience for educating salespeople.

Thanks to the emergence of social media, salespeople must now develop new questioning skills that build on and replace typical discovery questions in sales conversations. Bringing knowledge or ideas to a prospect in response to a need you identified through social media is a wonderful way to open a sales meeting.

Insights are important

Insights play a big role in today’s sales conversations. When you combine an insight with a question, you show you can bring value to your prospects early in the conversation — all while gaining the information you need to move the sale forward.

The meaningful insights you want to develop using social media have eight qualities:

  1. They are relevant. They center on a business challenge or opportunity you believe is a priority for the prospect.
  2. They teach or provide a new perspective. They create awareness of an issue the prospect is not aware of or shape how the prospect looks at an issue already on the agenda.
  3. They play to your strengths. They relate to a problem or missed opportunity you can solve.
  4. They are backed up with data. They include experience and examples to validate the impact of the insight.
  5. They often create contrast. They compare a more advantageous alternative with the current or more common approach.
  6. They are objective. They present the pros and cons in an unbiased manner.
  7. They elicit feedback. They seek the prospect’s perspective or experience.
  8. They are brief. They can be presented in two to three minutes. .

Adapted from: “Changing the Sales Conversation,” by Linda Richardson, founder of a global sales performance company. She also teaches sales and marketing courses at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

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