The battle that I inadvertently started with this post moved here where it took on a life of its own. As of this writing, there were 36 comments, some more pointed than others. Gerhard Gschwandtner added this post to the ongoing discussion. Earlier this week, I wrote this post to address most of the confusion that's out there. Yesterday, this post appeared on the Sales Thought Leaders Blog to add fuel to the fire.
I think it's all quite funny that so many have so much difficulty letting go of their positions and take things so personally.
I'm actually a proponent of social selling, not a detractor. I proactively and consistently use LinkedIn, ToutApp, Hubspot, YouTube, Wistia, Postwire, HootSuite, MeetMe, Eventbrite and more. Both of my companies have Twitter accounts that tweet Blog posts, news and retweet many of the tweets from other sales thought leaders.
Bob Thompson left several comments on the article at the CustomerThink site. In his last comment, he asked what the stats would look like if we only reported on what the best salespeople did with social media. I think that's a terrific idea, Bob, and while it's much more difficult to isolate those statistics, I did the research and report on it here.
One important thing to remember when making these comparisons is that the most successful reps don't make cold calls, so we need to compare their social media successes to the alternative which, for them, is referral/introduction selling.
I looked at 1,921 leads that were assigned to a group of top salespeople.
They closed 69% of the leads that were customer/client referrals/introductions.
On the other hand, they closed only 5% of the leads from social selling. WOW!!
However, I looked more closely and found that we can identify something different altogether.
If we isolate the leads that were either call-ins or emails generated from Blog Posts or videos, the closing rate shot up to 29%. It's not the 69% of referrals, but it sure beats the hell out of cold calls and the rest of the social selling leads. How did the top salespeople fare on those?
They closed only 3% of the "leads" that were from White Paper downloads, Sample Requests, Webinar views, and the like.
In summary, top salespeople closed less than half as many quality social selling leads as they did with all referral/introduction leads. That's not bad. But the 3% suggests that the "leads" from other sources should never go to salespeople. Those leads waste time and should remain with marketing.
One question this leaves me with is who would have been better at following up on the quality social selling leads? The top salespeople (who never cold call and rarely get resistance) or the newer and/or less successful salespeople who regularly deal with such annoyances?
Are these findings more encouraging?
I believe they are. They suggest that with the existance of two variables, social selling can be effective.
We must be able to differentiate between quality and other leads.
We must have a method for getting only the best quality leads directly to the salespeople.
We must funnel those leads to the salespeople who are most capable of closing them. That last statement is different from traditional lead distribution at most companies. Aren't you sick and tired of giving leads to salespeople who don't follow up on a timely basis? Who don't convert them? Who don't close them? I believe that leads should go only to the salespeople who prove they can be effective with them and follow up on a timely basis.