DALLAS, April 23, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Supporters say a vigorous social media presence is essential for success in today's hyper-competitive direct sales environments. But is social media the go-to method salespeople use to sell more? Researchers asked over 2,200 salespeople. Most said "no."
Trelitha R. Bryant, Senior V.P., Field Testing and Research at Behavioral Sciences Research Press in Dallas, Texas, presented the survey on April 3rd during the 2014 meeting of the Society for Applied Multivariate Research (SAMR) in San Antonio, Texas. Bryant asked 2,215 U.S. salespeople across companies and industries which method of initiating contact with new prospective buyers is most effective for actually generating new sales. Almost 70% (68.5%) said traditional forms of initiating contact with potential buyers (face-to-face=36.2%; phone calls=32.3%) are still the best for generating sales. Only about 16% endorsed technology-driven methods (email=12.6%, social media=3.1% and text messaging=.4%). CDs/DVDs (.3%) and "snail mail" (2.2%) were also included along with two standard catch-all's, "Not Applicable" (5.7%) and "Other" (7.4%).
Bryant expected the results to be age-related, reasoning that younger salespeople may be more comfortable using new technology than older salespeople. No significant age relationship was found, however. "Age is not a factor," Bryant said, "but discomfort contacting potential clients is, and depending on social media to prospect for new business may be how some salespeople cope."
Each participant had also completed the Sales Preferences Questionnaire (SPQ*GOLD) during their organization's standard assessment activities. SPQ*GOLD is an established psychological test used globally to detect specific prospecting avoidance behaviors capable of limiting clientele-building activity. Bryant reported that individuals endorsing the new technology driven methods of customer contact also had higher levels of prospecting discomfort on the SPQ*GOLD. "The outcome is consistent with previous research we presented that was based on a separate sample of 4,768 sales professionals," Bryant noted.
"Indirect methods of making contact with prospective buyers may be helpful for certain kinds of selling," Jeff Tanner, Ph.D., Marketing Professor and Executive Director of the Innovative Business Collaboratory at Baylor University's Hankamer School of Marketing said. "But in high dollar sales settings like financial services and business consulting, offerings are best presented face-to-face. Over-reliance on less direct prospecting methods can easily mask bottlenecks caused by discomfort associated with time-tested, face-to-face, person-to-person approaches to clientele-building."
SOURCE Behavioral Sciences Research Press