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Nearly one-half of sales professionals worldwide (49%) say social media is important to their success, and among top-performing salespeople, more than two-thirds (65%) say social media is integral to their success, according to a survey from OgilvyOne.

In the US, social media is playing a smaller role in sales organizations: 38% of top-performing  US salespeople surveyed—those reporting 2010 sales growth of 25% or higher—say social media is important for success in sales.

In contrast, 54% of top-performing sales professionals in the UK say social media is important to their sales efforts, as do seven out of ten sales professionals in the emerging economies of Brazil (70%) and China (71%).

Below, other findings from the study titled Selling in the 21st Century by OgilvyOne, based on a four-country survey of 1,000 salespeople.

Key Social Media Channels

Salespeople in the US are using Facebook (25%) and LinkedIn (20%) most often for selling, followed by Twitter (8%).

Interestingly, only 3% of US salespeople use personal blogs in the selling process, compared with 38% of those in China.

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Salespeople Lack Training

Only 9% of US salespeople say their companies educate or train them on the use of social media for sales, even though 46% say they'd like such training.

Meanwhile, the buying process is changing: 73% of surveyed salespeople say being a salesperson will be radically different in the next five years; 66% of those in the US say the same.

Moreover, 68% of US salespeople say the buying process is changing faster than their organizations are adapting to it, while 48% say their companies are actively discouraging the use of social media.

Asymmetry of Information a Problem

Salespeople say customers have more information than ever, but lack the analysis to help them make better buying decisions:

  • 83% say buyers are more informed about products and services.
  • 61% say customers are obtaining more information about products and services, but not the right kind.

About the data: Findings are based on a survey of 1,000 sales professionals in the US, UK, Brazil, and China, conducted online in October 2010 by OgilvyOne.

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