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March 2, 2015 // 9:00 AM

Only 1 in 4 Salespeople Know How To Use Social Media to Sell [New Research]

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Despite the hype in the sales space about social selling, adoption numbers remain fairly low. A new survey from PeopleLinx reveals that a scant 31% of reps incorporate social media into their sales process.

However, the lack of social selling adoption isn't due to a lack of interest or perceived value. It's just that reps don't know how to do it. Only 26% of respondents felt as if they knew how to use social media to sell

Surprising? Not to Gorka Amian, business intelligence manager at PeopleLinx.

"This makes sense -- at least to me. A lot of the salespeople I meet tell me (usually in hushed, guilty tones) that they don’t understand Twitter, LinkedIn, and sometimes even Facebook," he wrote in a blog post. "They know social technologies are valuable. They feel they should be doing more to cultivate relationships with buyers. But … they’re clueless."

The survey tried to uncover a solution to this problem by examining what impact (if any) training had on social selling adoption rate. I think it's safe to say that the silver bullet has been revealed. Adoption increased to 74% among reps that had been trained on social sellingHowever, only 11% of respondents indicated that their companies provided social selling training.

Another notable finding is the gap in perceived selling value between LinkedIn and Twitter -- the top channels social selling experts recommend salespeople get active on. While 76% of respondents saw the value in using LinkedIn to sell, only 16% saw value in Twitter. Is a lack of education to blame? Or is it that Twitter is truly not a worthwhile channel for social selling? Maybe time (and more research) will tell.

In any case, the takeaway for sales leaders who want to foster social selling initiatives in their teams is clear.

"Companies need to help their employees," Amian wrote. "This is a problem of skill, not of will. When salespeople get encouraged, trained, and measured, their social selling activity shoots up."

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