Social media selling is the new dinner-and-ballgame schmoozing for sales agents who can engage, understand buyer preferences and even close deals, according to LinkedIn

It’s not shocking LinkedIn would tout social as a great place to sell and to promote social selling as a strong technology. It offers the technology and overall in 2015 made $2.99 billion in revenue, second only behind Facebook for social media platforms ($17.93 billion).

LinkedIn Social Survey Says

Mountain View, Calif.-based LinkedIn turned to 1,000 US sales agents in a survey released today, “State of Sales in 2016,” (PDF) to prove its thesis that social selling rocks. It found that 71 percent use social selling. LinkedIn defines social selling as the art of appealing to savvy buyers and strategically leveraging social media to build relationships that deliver mutual benefits before, during and after a deal is done to build and nurture relationships.

Another 83 percent said social selling tools are “important” or “very important” for closing deals, and 71 percent added social selling tools are “very impactful” or “impactful” on their ability to grow revenue.

“Consumer technology has had a massive impact on how you want to be treated as a buyer,” said Justin Schriber, head of marketing for LinkedIn Sales Solutions. “With Uber, Netflix and Google, they all know who you are and what you want and what you expect when people approach you. It’s the same expectation in the professional world. If a sales professional doesn’t understand you, you’ll immediately shut down on them.”

These LinkedIn numbers would indicate B2B sales agents are gaining faith in social selling, in stark contrast to two years ago. Most B2B organizations do not embrace social as a legitimate sales channel, that 2014 PeopleLinx survey found.

Younger Sales Agents Embrace Tech

LinkedIn also found sales pros under 35 use sales technology at higher rates than their peers across the board. In fact, compared to their slightly older peers aged 35 to 54, the younger sales agents are: 

  • 33 percent more likely to use sales intelligence tools like Sales Navigator, InsideView and Zoominfo
  • 19 percent more likely to use productivity apps like Google Apps, Box, Dropbox and Evernote
  • 13 percent more likely to use social selling tools like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter

Top Salespeople Use More Tech to Close

LinkedIn also through this survey wanted to find out what drives top sales professionals — those that meet their sales quota, consider themselves in the top 25 percent of their departments and expect to exceed their target revenue by 25 percent.

graphic from linkedin's state of sales in 2016 report

It found that top salespeople use technology more than the average sales professional to close deals: 

  • 90 percent of top sales reps use social selling tools to close deals, compared with 71 percent of all respondents
  • 86 percent of them are more likely to say that CRM technology is extremely critical to closing deals
  • 87 percent are more likely to say that social selling tools are “extremely critical” to their ability to close deals

Bottom line, according to LinkedIn’s Schriber?  

“Traditional sales techniques,” he said, “are dialing down while new techniques are dialing up.”