Most B2B organizations do not embrace social as a legitimate sales channel. And even less are offering training on social selling to sales professionals.

Those are some of the findings of PeopleLinx's November survey of 254 B2B professionals on how they and their companies view social in the sales cycle. PeopleLinx offers a social selling platform.

Only 22 percent of organizations encourage sales professionals to use social as one of their channels, and only 11 percent of companies offer training on social selling.

"I think that tells the whole story," said Michael Idinopulos, chief marketing officer for Philadelphia-based PeopleLinx. "There is a real opportunity here. A lot of research says that sales reps that use social selling outperform their peers, but companies are not yet leading the charge with their employees."

Social Selling Maturity

Naturally, PeopleLinx wants to sell social selling. That's their platform.

But we wouldn't call their report -- "The Social Selling Maturity Model" (registration required) -- a full-on PeopleLinx marketing blitz. The survey yielded some interesting results, such as what led to its report title:

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PeopleLinx's social selling model is divided into five parts, from the bottom up: Random Acts of Social (60 percent of companies); Policy (25 percent); Training (10 percent); Integration (5 percent); Optimization (15-20 percent).

PeopleLinx officials believe that the farther along you are in the maturity model, the better sales lift you will have from social selling. Companies that embrace training for social selling are higher on the maturity model.

"Company support for social selling makes a big difference," Idinopulos said.

About 31 percent of respondents said social is an actual part of their B2B selling cycle. Of those companies that offer training on social selling, 74 percent of reps use it for selling. 

The message -- companies embrace, so do sales professionals.

Challenge for B2B

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So why is social such a challenge for B2B?

"To use social on B2C, you can just buy a bunch of Facebook ads if that's in your budget," Idinopulos said.

"That's pretty easy to do," he added.

However, in B2B, you've got to get individual reps to act differently and to include a new set of tools into their every-day sales process.

"And that's hard," Idinopulos said, "because it's a behavior change."

Social, he added, is "one more tool in the toolkit, but one that every rep should be using."