Does social selling matter? The numbers don’t lie

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Kathy Kruse
Social Media Marketing Columnist

Does social media factor in the sales process? If you talk to the many naysayers, the answer is “no.” However, two recently published studies show all points lead to social media as a crucial factor in prospecting and cultivating leads and sales.

EBay Motors published a study showing that nine out of 10 millennials (members of the youngest car-buying demographic) turn to the Internet when shopping for a car. Millennials skip the showroom and ask their social media network for advice. In fact, the majority of buyers now go online to begin the purchase process.

In knowing this, is your business equipped to handle this type of communication with your potential buyers?

With more and more data showing that social strategies really do drive sales, this concept, according to the second report, rings especially true for salespeople.

Jim Keenan, (asalesguy.com) published his company’s Social Media and Sales Quota report showing that salespeople who use social media, outsell their peers.

As many as 79 per cent of salespeople who used social media as a selling tool outperformed those who didn’t, according to the study.

I’ve seen evidence of this in my daily communication with savvy dealership salespeople. Many of them reach out to me saying their boss forbids them to use social media at work and thinks it’s stupid.

The numbers don’t lie, baby. It’s time to embrace social media and take advantage of the value (read: sales) it delivers.

Social sellers were 23 per cent more successful in exceeding their sales quotas by more than 10 per cent compared to their non-social peers – that’s quite an achievement for something that many dealers still show disdain for.

So, if the numbers don’t lie, why aren’t more dealers and salespeople welcoming social media with open arms?

According to Keenan, 22 per cent of salespeople stated that they don’t use social media as part of the selling process. Those respondents were then asked, why not. The answers broke down as follows:

-    45 per cent said they didn’t understand it
-    19 per cent said they don’t see the value in investing sales energy in social media
-    17 per cent said it didn’t work for their business

The study suggests (and I concur) that the lack of investment in formalized training is the root cause of these issues. The more you know about your online options, the more valuable it becomes. The numbers of this study do not surprise me at all. I’ve witnessed and been a part of social media working for many rooftops.

Keenan’s findings bring up a number of challenges to the daily operation of a car dealership, or any business for that matter.

Everyone wonders where social media makes a difference, where is it most effective? Those respondents who do practice social media selling were asked: “What do you use social media for?”

Not surprisingly, networking and prospecting are the two most common uses for salespeople.

Developing a trusted network of friends, family and prospects can become a bone of contention when your employee leaves or is terminated.

With solid training and coaching in place, you must also provide specific guidelines to your employees. Outline how employees should create social profiles for business, what can be said, what happens when something goes wrong and how you want things handled if they should decide to leave.

A solid social media policy will always serve you when these unique and new situations arise.

Social media is not only a factor in the sales process but can be the reason for the sale.

We’ve seen the numbers and they all point up. It’s up to you to hit the launch button.

Kathi Kruse is an automotive social media marketing expert, blogger, speaker, coach, and Founder of Kruse Control Inc. She can be reached at kathi@krusecontrolinc.com or www.krusecontrolinc.com